Saturday, December 22, 2012

Still worried about Kerry

By Frank Moraes 

Jonathan Bernstein at The Plum Line blog encourages us, "Don't Worry Too Much About John Kerry's Senate Seat." I not exactly worried about this, but I have been opposed to it. Of course, that was when Kerry was going to be moving to the Pentagon. Moving to State seems like a better deal, but I still think it is a questionable idea.

Bernstein argues mostly that Scott Brown isn't that big a threat. First, he says that Brown is not the favorite to win the special election next summer. But as reported yesterday by his own paper, "Scott Brown Would Win Special Election Today." That's just a poll nine months out, of course. But exit polling of the 6 November election showed that the people still liked Brown by a lot; they just liked Warren more. So Brown has at least a decent chance to take Kerry's seat.

Bernstein says not to worry because the seat comes up for re-election in 2014. So the Democrats would have a second chance to defeat Brown. This strikes me as a very weak argument. If Brown wins the special election, he will almost certainly win the off-year election.

There is one issue that Bernstein brings up that I think is strong: Kerry is almost 70. He may not run for re-election in 2014 anyway. That's an excellent point. It is also the case that the Democrats are prepared for a fight in this upcoming election in a way that they were not after Kennedy died. But I'm concerned about this nomination for another reason.

Obama shows an amazing lack of strategic thinking. We see this in the Fiscal Cliff negotiations where he wanted to include a two year extension of the debt ceiling. In this case, he seems to have forgotten that in 2014 there will be 20 Democrats to only 13 Republicans up for re-election in the Senate. Losing Kerry's seat might not be a big deal now, but it could be the difference between a Democratic and Republican majority at the start of 2015.

So I'm still not convinced that Kerry's move is good for the Democrats. But I like the idea of him at State. That would be good for America. But I'm not sure it would be enough to make up for the harm that Scott Brown would do in the Senate.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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