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Scott Brown gives Republicans a reason to say 'Yes!'

Massachusetts voters elected Scott Brown, and Republicans nationwide elected to gloat.
Massachusetts voters elected Scott Brown, and Republicans nationwide elected to gloat. (Charles Krupa/associated Press)

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By Dana Milbank
Thursday, January 21, 2010

If Republicans turn up the volume any more in the gloating over their Senate victory in Massachusetts, Americans are going to need hearing protection.

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At a Wednesday-morning news conference called by House GOP leaders, Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) claimed to speak for the American people when she asked: "Mr. President and the majority, can you hear us now?"

"The American people spoke in Virginia," she continued, imitating the Verizon commercial that has been adopted by conservative "tea party" activists. "Can you hear us now?"

"The American people spoke in New Jersey. Can you hear us now?"

"And they certainly spoke last night in Massachusetts," she concluded. "Can you hear us now?

Of course they can hear you, Congresswoman. A deaf man could hear you.

What the American people don't hear is any offer by the Republicans to compromise with Democrats on health care, climate-change legislation, fiscal matters or much of anything else.

If anything, Scott Brown's surprise victory in Massachusetts on Tuesday seems to have left Republicans with the belief that their "party of no" strategy is working. After the Republican House leaders pronounced all the things they don't want to do -- "end . . . scrap . . . reject . . . has to be stopped . . . no to this . . . no . . . not to embark . . . isn't working" -- they cut off questioning after a couple of minutes and left.

"Is there any specific area of health-care reform where you could cooperate with Democrats?" NBC's Luke Russert called out to House Minority Leader John Boehner (D-Ohio). Boehner muttered something unintelligible and continued walking.

Even if Republicans were inclined to cooperate with Democrats, there's little political incentive for them to do so. Only 24 percent of Americans have a good amount of confidence in congressional Republicans, according to this month's Washington Post-ABC News poll. With that lowly standing -- even worse than the Democrats' -- Republicans' best hope is that Democrats achieve nothing this year and are punished by voters in November as do-nothing legislators.

Yet the Democrats, predictably, are falling into the GOP's trap and trimming their ambitions. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), in a statement calling on his party's leaders to suspend further health-care action before Brown is seated, calling it "vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders." As if that could be accomplished by the November midterm elections.

The Republican reaction to the Massachusetts results could be summarized in four words: nana nana boo boo.


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