Obama speaks on Brown victory

"Senate certainly shouldn't try to jam anything through until Scott Brown is seated," president says

By Alex Koppelman
Published January 20, 2010 7:38PM (EST)

For now, President Obama appears to be trying to project a casual, unconcerned air about his party having lost a Senate seat and its supermajority on Tuesday.

"Here's my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts, but the mood around the country: the same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office," Obama said in an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos Wednesday. "People are angry and they are frustrated. Not just because of what's happened in the last year or two years, but what's happened over the last eight years."

That's a creative way of trying to spin the loss away; there's certainly an element of truth to it, as the general anti-incumbent feeling right now has a lot to do with the bad economy that began under former President Bush. But with a response like that, Obama does run the risk of seeming almost blasé, given the fact that Democrats just lost what should have been the safest of Senate seats.

Obama also talked with Stephanopoulos about what happens to healthcare reform now that there are only 59 votes in the Senate for the legislation as it stands.

"Here's one thing I know and I just want to make sure that this is off the table. The Senate certainly shouldn't try to jam anything through until Scott Brown is seated. People in Massachusetts spoke. He's got to be part of that process," Obama said. This was a response to a common rallying cry from the right recently, but it's likely essentially meaningless -- the chances that the Senate would have held a vote on healthcare before Brown could be seated anyway were almost nil.

In terms of how to move forward, Obama said:

I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on. We know that we need insurance reform, that the health insurance companies are taking advantage of people. We know that we have to have some form of cost containment because if we don't, then our budgets are going to blow up and we know that small businesses are going to need help so that they can provide health insurance to their families. Those are the core, some of the core elements of, to this bill.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2010 Elections Barack Obama Scott Brown War Room