THE independent voters of Massachusetts ensured that Barack Obama had very little to celebrate on the first anniversary of his inauguration as 44th President of the United States and the first black president to occupy the White House.

In his victory speech Scott Brown, the newly elected Republican Senator of America's most liberal state, emphasised the importance of the independent vote and the Democrats, licking their wounds, acknowledged it also. At his press briefing Robert Gibbs, the President's chief spokesman, said “There's tremendous upset and anger in this country about where we are economically.” This shock result needs deep analysis but a couple of things stand out immediately. The Democrats chose a poor candidate who saw the voting tsunami heading her way too late and was engulfed by it; Martha Coakley assumed that a seat held by the Democrats for more than 50 years would stay that way without too much effort on her part. With this result the Democrats have lost their “super-majority” in the Senate which has protected them from Republican filibustering tactics on the Health Care reform Bill and possibly climate change legislation. If the Health Care Bill is lost or diminished the President will have wasted a year's political energy that many people think should have expended on the economy anyway.

How will the President respond? The annual State of the Union address to Congress has been scheduled for next Wednesday and it has suddenly become the most important speech of his short political career.


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