John, you’re right that this is the hinge in Obama’s presidency. He can choose to plunge ahead, employ the parliamentary grab bag of tricks. and pass a bill the voters of Massachusetts couldn’t stomach — and the results will be swift and sure. Or he can adjust, moderate, and recalibrate his approach to governance. He has a bipartisan majority willing to embrace moderation, fiscal responsibility. and toughness in the war against Islamic fascists.
Now Obama has never faced a rejection of this magnitude — personal or political. Living a charmed life, he lacks both humility and the flexibility to revisit faulty assumptions. He will need both.
But the decision may not be entirely in his hands. The Democrats in Congress will need to absorb the Massachusetts results and consider: will they be next? If Massachusetts votes against the ObamaCare candidate, won’t their constituents vote against them as well in less Blue States? Obama may want to charge up the hill, but he may find the troops behind him thinning and indeed pleading to turn back. This is the moment at which not just the president but each and every elected member of the House and Senate must ask: do I listen to the voters?