A desultory race for a storied seat

Coakley speaks with reporters following her victory rally Tuesday night at the Sheraton Boston. Click on image for more photos.

Coakley speaks with reporters following her victory rally Tuesday night at the Sheraton Boston. Click on image for more photos.

In my latest for the Guardian (whose technical difficulties prevented this from being posted earlier), I write that the only surprising aspect of the U.S. Senate race to succeed the late Ted Kennedy was how little interest the voters demonstrated.

That’s not likely to change with state Attorney General Martha Coakley now slated to face off against state Sen. Scott Brown in the final election.

About these ads

15 thoughts on “A desultory race for a storied seat

  1. Jeff C

    Ack! If there’s one thing that irritates me above all else, it’s this: It is NOT KENNEDY’S SEAT! It belongs to the people, not the guy who managed to sit in it for all those years.

    Please. We fought a war to rid ourselves of monarchy. It isn’t “Kennedy’s seat” any more than that that house on Pennsylvania Avenue belongs to the Obamas.

  2. O-FISH-L

    Has there ever been a less inspiring front-running candidate than Coakley? As the late, great Red Sox broadcaster Ned Martin might say, “Mercy!”

  3. mike_b1

    “Has there ever been a less inspiring front-running candidate than Coakley?”

    The far right complains about Obama for being too inspiring, then complains about Coakley not being inspiring enough.

    It’s like the Itchy and Scratchy song: “We flip, we flop! We flip, we flip, we flop! Flip flip flip, flop flop flop! The GOP and loony right show!”

  4. Joey

    Voters in Massachusetts who turn out for special elections are well-educated and already know what they’re getting. Coakley and Brown are both cut from central casting of their respective parties– we voters know what we want, and don’t need a long shopping season before making our choice. My only surprise is that anyone in this state is shocked at the apathy. Our choices are no-brainers, we might as well have the election tomorrow and swear in Coakley on Saturday.

  5. Harrybosch

    I’m blown away that the travesty of justice that was the Fells Acres case — upon which Coakley built her name and (for what it’s worth) her reputation — has not been front and center in this election cycle.

    Until she acknowledges that travesty, and apologizes to the Amirault family, she is unfit to be dogcatcher, let alone Senator.

    1. Dan Kennedy Post author

      @Harrybosch: (1) Martha Coakley did not prosecute that case, although she did handle some of the aftermath; (2) the fact that none of the Amiraults were ever cleared despite numerous appeals and high-profile supporters suggests that the evidence was rather more persuasive than you seem to think.

      Q: Why is that we don’t believe any charges of serial child molestation except when it involves Catholic priests?

      A: Church officials write it all down.

  6. Harrybosch

    “the fact that none of the Amiraults were ever cleared despite numerous appeals and high-profile supporters suggests that the evidence was rather more persuasive than you seem to think.”

    Hilarious. Did they find the clown and the magic room? The robot with flashing lights who talked like R2D2? The elephant whom one child claimed abused him? The lobsters that another child claimed abused him?

    No witnesses to the boy who claimed to have been tied naked to a tree in the school yard (which faces a busy Malden street) in front of all the other teachers and children while Cheryl cut the leg off a squirrel. No body of a dead dog that same boy claimed Cheryl killed and buried its blood in the sandbox. No robot that threatened to kill him if he told.

    Madness.

    1. Dan Kennedy Post author

      @Harrybosch: You seem like a good guy, willing to pay attention to facts and to think things through. That you would cite such absurdities shows that you do not understand the case, but are merely parroting the most ridiculous, out-of-context aspects that you’ve heard from the Amiraults’ defenders. Unless you are prepared to dig in and do some research, you really ought to hold your fire.

      This report is absolutely key, as it reviews extensively the initial police investigation, quoting from contemporaneous police reports. Unfortunately, I do not think that it’s online anywhere.

  7. Harrybosch

    “Unless you are prepared to dig in and do some research, you really ought to hold your fire.”

    I appreciate the kind, if somewhat condescending, words, Dan. For what it’s worth, I’ve read extensively on the case and lived through the fallout.

    I do find it disconcerting that you say I am parroting “ridiculous, out-of-context” aspects of the case, when in fact I am citing the children’s own testimony.

    I also find it disengenuous for you to claim that “none of the Amiraults were ever cleared” when the fact is, that in one of the darkest days of American jurisprudence, the Massachusetts Supreme Court created something called “finality” in this case, that trumped the truth, evidence, or anything else.

    Curious too that these horrific cases of day-care child molestation appear to be products of the eighties. Surely these satanic rituals still go on, don’t they? Funny that they’re not.

    No, the evidence reveals that only child abuse that occurred in this case was perpetrated by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Malden Police, aided and abetted by fly-by-night, for-profit psychologists and psychiatrists, whose specialty was getting children to say whatever they wanted.

    At any rate, I will continue to keep an open mind on this issue, and when new evidence reveals itself, I will view it with an open mind. I’m certain that you’ll do the same.

    Those who have profited by the case, such as Scott Harshbarger and Martha Coakley, have too much to lose by doing the same.

    1. Dan Kennedy Post author

      @Harrybosch: Oh, it certainly sounds like your mind is wide open. By the way, you are even taking the “finality” bit out of context. Here are some excerpts from Justice Charles Fried’s decision, pertaining to the Amiraults’ claim that they should be granted a new trial because they had not been allowed to confront the child witnesses face-to-face in the courtroom:

      The condemnation and punishments of the criminal justice system are awesome and devastating. That is why their imposition is hedged about with presumptions and procedural safeguards that heavily weight the risk of error in favor of the accused and are designed to assure both the appearance and the reality that the accused had every fair opportunity of defense. But once the process has run its course — through pretrial motions, trial, posttrial motions and one or two levels of appeal — the community’s interest in finality comes to the fore. The regular course of justice may be long, but it must not be endless. When a serious crime has been committed, the victims and survivors, witnesses, and the public have an interest that the guilty not only be punished but that the community express its condemnation with firmness and confidence. Moreover, a decision to reopen a matter long since adjudicated will often in effect resolve the dispute in favor of the accused because witnesses will have died, disappeared, their memories faded, or they may simply be unwilling once again to undergo the ordeal of testimony….

      As we have already observed, all of the child witnesses in the two trials testified in the physical presence of the defendants, testified under oath, were subject to cross-examination, and sat in front of the jury who could observe their demeanor and assess the weight and credibility of their testimonies. Moreover, there were several actual face-to-face encounters with the child witnesses throughout the trial. We conclude that in these circumstances, the defendants have not met their burden of showing there was a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice.

      In any event, since I’m sure you’re not going to change your mind, I hope you would at least concede that this was not Martha Coakley’s case.

  8. Al

    The Republican side of the race wasn’t exactly a barn burner, either, and we ended up with Mitt lite, who promptly signed on to the national party’s no tax pledge and rhetoric. That’s a sure way not to appear independent, as he claims to be. So, there are issues for both candidates. At the end of the day you have to ask whether you want someone spouting the same rhetoric of the party that put us in this hole over the last decade and two presidential terms, or one from a party which replaced them in the majority a couple of years ago and just got a president to work with 11 months ago. Me, I didn’t want Coakley, but now she is my party’s standard bearer in this race, and she will get my vote in January.

  9. Harrybosch

    “Moreover, a decision to reopen a matter long since adjudicated will often in effect resolve the dispute in favor of the accused . . .”

    Yes. It will.

    You read about it every day in the paper.

    “In any event, since I’m sure you’re not going to change your mind, I hope you would at least concede that this was not Martha Coakley’s case.”

    I’m surprised, because in the few interactions we’ve had, I like to think I’ve demonstrated (unless you believe I’m not being truthful) the ability to change my mind.

    But from all I’ve read on this case, it was, like the McMartin case, a product of the child-abuse hysteria of the eighties.

    And though it may not have been “her case,” Martha Coakley was the one responsible for keeping people whom I believe to be innocent in jail all those years.

    However, I do reserve the right to change my mind.

  10. ben

    As it regards your piece in the Guardian, I don’t think of Massachusetts as “overwhelmingly liberal.” Certainly leans left compared to many states but i believe independents outnumber registered dems in the state and the recent history of republican governors would point toward the middle. What characterizes Massachusetts is a Democratic political machine that makes easy work for incumbents, oftentimes far more liberal than the electorate.

Comments are closed.