We might have been spared the spectacle of the Louisiana purchase ($300 million for Mary Landrieu's vote) and the Cornhusker hustle (Ben Nelson got Nebraska exempted from Medicaid increases). Or at least the onus of such spectacles would fall on Republicans as well as Democrats.
But with 60 seats, the Democratic leadership took the partisan path and the Obama White House supinely went along. They ignored the abundant evidence that their government-directed health care bills were increasingly opposed by most voters.
The 60th seat was a temptation, and like Oscar Wilde, the Democrats were able to resist anything except temptation.
Barack Obama has acknowledged that the Democrats' health care legislation is unpopular. He says the public will come to like it when it goes into effect (although some taxes kick in before the supposed benefits). Other Democrats say that once they pass it they can then persuade voters it's a good idea, as if they haven't been trying to do that for most of a year and conspicuously failing.
But their health care bill is not going to be passed if Brown is elected. Some Democrats are talking about delaying his swearing in and passing a bill in the meantime. Doing that in open defiance of the clearly expressed views of (Massachusetts!) voters would touch off a political firestorm unlike any we've seen since Richard Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Democrats up for re-election like Evan Bayh and Blanche Lincoln should understand that and not go along.
Obama was supposed to be a great persuader. It turns out that's only half true. He did persuade most of us that he should be president. But in Year One, he has failed to persuade most of us to support his major proposals. He's even moved us in the other direction. That's clear, whatever happens in Massachusetts.