Harry Melkonian's letter to the editor:
The election of Republican Scott Brown to fill the US Senate seat formerly occupied by the late Edward Kennedy should not be construed as a referendum on Barack Obama or his plans for healthcare reform ("Senate blow to Obama agenda”, 21/1).
Massachusetts already has a universal healthcare program in place. It was signed into law by former governor Mitt Romney. In fact, the current system in Massachusetts may not be all that different from what is likely to emerge on a national level. The Massachusetts plan makes health insurance mandatory and provides a state-funded subsidy for low-wage earners to buy private insurance.
The election of Brown was a local election decided on local issues. He ran a much more articulate and coherent campaign than the Democratic Party candidate Martha Coakley. Massachusetts has elected only a handful of Democratic senators in its history and John F. Kennedy was only the third Democrat to ever win a Senate seat in that state.
Presumably Obama has now learned what his predecessors also learned by hard experience—presidents only tarnish their own images by getting involved in local elections.