Massachusetts voters surprised U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday and ended his filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate by strongly backing a little-known Republican candidate, Scott Brown, in a special election.
The President now needs the Republican Party to back his health reform legislation unless he wants to risk a filibuster. The current bill now is in jeopardy, and until Tuesday's vote, the president felt assured that it would pass in a form acceptable to him.
A longer term blow for President Obama could involve his Middle East policies, which have starkly contrasted with the Republicans' demand that the Palestinian Authority fulfill its Roadmap obligations before Israel makes yet further concessions.
President Obama last year called Israeli communities in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria “illegitimate,” and later accepted and promoted the Palestinian Authority demand for a total halt in building for Jews in the areas. Leading Republicans have strongly criticized the Obama administration, charging that he is ignoring reality and paving the way for a possible explosion in the Middle East, similar to the Second Intifada that followed the PA’s rejection of an opportunity to establish itself as a state.
The new Republican senator will take the place of Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy, who died last August. Brown’s victory came exactly a year after President Obama’s inauguration, and symbolizes his disintegrating popularity since then. Although personally popular, his rating as a president has sunk following a ballooning government debt, unprecedented aid to failing corporations, the controversial health reform program and setbacks at the hands of Arab and Muslim terrorists in the United States, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.