It's only the Grace of God that this thing got to happen at all. The Democrats had 60 votes, and a manifest willingness to ignore the clear will of the people. Many slipped deadlines (Summer, Thanksgiving, Christmas, SOTU...) notwithstanding, there really wasn't any reason to think they would not get what they wanted before ballot-casting voters had a chance to say anything about it.
'Man proposes, but God disposes', as they say. Exit The Lion Of The Senate™.
Now, blue-state 80+%-Democrat legislatures being what they are, there was still reason to think that the powers that be in Massachusetts would manage to save The Swimmer's seat. They had, after all, swiftly changed the law in 2004 when they thought Jean-Francois Kerry had a chance at a promotion, to make sure then-Gov. and GOP member Mitt Romney would not be able to pick them a new junior Senator. There wasn't even a fillibuster-proof majority to save back then. And sure enough, when the last person Mary Jo Kopechne ever saw finally announced that his reward was at hand, that august body went right to work, er, changing the law back. You see, they now have a Democrat Governor - don't really need to send it to the voters under those circumstances (as little risk as that can be expected to entail, MA voters being what they are.)
But the naked partisan machination proved too much even for them, and the short time available forced them to settle for a delay in the special election, and an interim (Dem, natch) appointee by the governor to fill the seat of the 60th vote.
Even that ought to have been enough -- ObamaCare should have been sewn up long before January 19th of 2010. They wanted it for the SOTU, after all, and Deval Patrick's pick was as reliably for it as Kennedy himself. But while continuing public anger kept the bribe negotiations dragging on into the 11th hour, there was time for a strange and wonderful thing to happen: those polls on ObamaCare that PBO and Horsetrading Harry Reid had been so determined to ignore come hell or high GOP hopes for 11/10, finally came before the voters of that bluest of blue states, Massachusetts.
The lines couldn't have been any clearer, either. Eschewing decades of electoral tradition, there were no weasel words in the ObamaCare debate at this blue state ballot box. Nobody hemmed, nobody hawed. One would vote for it and get it through, the other would finally kill it dead. How often is there as clear and boldly stated choice as that?
The best part is, it still shouldn't have been all that fair of a fight. After all, Massachusetts hasn't sent a Republican to the Senate since Paul Tsongas took Edward Brooke's seat in 1979. And Chappaquiddick Ted's seat has been warmed by a Democrat tush since JFK himself took it from Henry Cabot Lodge in 1953. Regardless of the rumblings going on in the South and Midwest, surely Massachusetts voters would back their President's play on as holy a liberal grail as socialized medicine... Non?
Yeah: well, ...no. There it is, boyez: Suck on those results, and despair. Go ahead and spin if you must. God knows you did when you lost in Virginia and New Jersey not so long ago. But we did try to warn you, and in plenty of time for Harry Reid and Ben Nelson to decide it was a better strategy after all to respect the will of the voters. And we saw what they did instead.
It has, preposterously enough, become a matter of liberal dogma that it would be worse for the Dems to not pass anything than to pass even something as manifestly unpopular as ObamaCare. The thinking, if you can call it that, is apparently that, as bad as it is to be unpopular, it's not as bad as losing. And who knows, maybe that's so. We don't live in a world where you get to try such things both ways in real time. But you do, in the end, kind of have to ask yourself: when something is sufficiently unpopular as to lose the Kennedy seat for the Democrats in as blue a state as there is, could losing really be all that much worse?