On Saturday, the Washington Post published a poll indicating that three-quarters of Massachusetts voters wanted newly-elected Senator Scott Brown to work with Democrats to get Republican ideas into legislation in general. This note was picked up on Face The Nation yesterday, leading to very strong words from host Bob Schieffer:
"My own take is the vote for Brown was not so much a vote for or against policy or party, as it was a vote against the process itself. People don't like the political games, and they've lost confidence in a bumbling bureaucracy that since Katrina can't seem to get out of its own way. Why trust the government with a complicated health care proposal, when it can't catch a terrorist whose own father tried to turn him in? It will take the perseverance of Job and a lot of political courage, but if the two sides could somehow pay less attention to the voices on the fringes of the left and the right, take the Massachusetts voters' advice, and sit down together to see what they could agree on, who knows? They might get something done! They couldn't do worse. They might even like it - and I don't need a poll to tell me the rest of us surely would." [Emphasis added]
Hmmm, Mr. Schieffer has a point. I hope that Congress and others are not so myopic to believe that this message is just about health care. The daily stress event of reading the front page of the paper confirms that vitriol is the new drink of choice for the Obama Administration. The CPSIA saga is another one of those acidic partisan divisions that led to voter revolt. It's time to recognize that the process is a big part of the problem here.
The Brown election can be seen as a direct rebuke to the CPSIA process but the risk remains that the point might be missed by You Know Who, the CPSC Commission and other parties at interest. There is little sign of any contemplation on this point yet. The stridency is still there. For instance, BNA reported that some consumer advocates were jolly satisfied with the secrecy of the process to prepare last week's report to Congress: "Rachel Weintraub, director of product safety and senior counsel at Consumer Federation of America (CFA), told BNA Jan. 7 that a public meeting is not necessary since the recommendations were made public once they were submitted." I guess sunshine doesn't work for consumer advocates all the time, especially if it might weaken their powerful grip on the CPSIA.
If the parties supporting the CPSIA have no room to compromise on anything and will twist into any pretzel-like shape to prop it up, we're not going to get anywhere . . . and the anger of the voters will mount. The message from Massachusetts was loud and clear - to those that aren't deaf.
Now we will see who was listening.