Paul Mirengoff of Power Line meditates on what the number 59 means to embattled Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, who appears headed for defeat in a runoff:

59 is an important number for Mary Landrieu, and not just because she turns that age this week. 59 is the number of votes Obamacare would have received in the Senate if Landrieu hadn’t voted for the legislation. In this scenario, Obamacare would have been defeated and Landrieu probably would have been reelected Senator earlier this month, or be headed for reelection in a runoff.

59 is also the number of Senators who voted for the Keystone pipeline yesterday. Landrieu thus fell one vote short in her quest to save her Senate seat by pushing the pipeline legislation through.

Taken together, the two votes — on Obamacare and on the pipeline — tell a tale.

As Mirengoff tells the tale, in voting to pass ObamaCare, which was unpopular in Louisiana, Mary Landrieu “loyally” took one for the team. This week, when Landrieu needed the team to take one for her by supporting her Keystone Pipeline XL bill, they didn't. I would explain the passage of ObamaCare a little differently–casting a vote for this unpopular, ill-designed, unread bill was indeed taking one for the team for many senators.

But I think something else was in play: the hothouse atmosphere of Capitol Hill. Senators and representatives came to Washington and in the insular world of Capitol Hill party loyalty began to trump the people back home. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid loomed larger than the lowly voter.

The Senate is supposed to cool and refine opinion, and thus a senator is from time to time called by conscience to vote what she  thinks is right over what she knows her constituents prefer. When the senator does this, the vote should be the product of wisdom and prudence. The tale of ObamaCare’s passage, however, is one of hubris and bad smelling deals.

In the name of representative government, we should be darned glad the voters punished their disloyal servants. Otherwise, we’d see more of the same kind of hubris that gave us this unworkable law. (Actually, we are going to see more the same kind of hubris this evening.) 

Mirengoff makes the interesting point that Senator Dick Durbin, who voted for ObamaCare but has been comfortably re-elected, could have saved Landrieu from shame and almost certain defeat in Louisiana by voting for her Keystone pipeline bill. It would have been a freebie for Durbin, as President Obama would have vetoed the bill. But he could have provided the one to make 60.

I have a different view: in the case of Durbin, it was both a conviction vote and what his constituency wanted. But 59 is a meaningful number for Landrieu and others who voted for this monstrosity knwn as ObamaCare. If anyone of them had voted differently, ObamaCare would have failed.

As of this writing 29 of the Senators who voted for ObamaCare are gone—and we’re still counting. The Louisiana runoff is December 6.