By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Lessons for Obama and the Democrats

Attorney General Martha Coakley’s deficiencies as a Senate candidate don’t really explain the magnitude of what swept over her and the Democratic Party on Tuesday. Yes, Republican victor Scott Brown ran a vastly superior campaign, but that doesn’t explain it either.

Instead, what we saw was an outpouring of populist anger. And after a year of futile attempts to reach out to Republicans with compromised bills to stimulate the economy and reform health care, President Obama finds himself on the wrong side of that anger. The lesson he and Democrats need to learn is to embrace the anger rather than trying to defuse it. Otherwise, he’ll end up like Bill Clinton in 1994.

Or so I argue in the Guardian.

Photo (cc) by Mark Sardella and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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  1. Interesting observation that Obama and the Dems” need to learn is to embrace the anger rather than trying to defuse it.” You’re right, but this is a tricky business because, for example, it means being willing to become a little more fierce with Congress for dragging its collective feet since last August on health care. To date, his strategy has been genteel persuasion and monetary inducement. Time to pull the anger arrow out of the quiver?

  2. Harrybosch

    “We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

    They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

    Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.

    – Franklin D. Roosevelt

    I think we need a little of that.

  3. Tunder

    If I hear that Obama invites a bunch of Republicans over to watch the Super Bowl in the White House theater I’ll know there is no hope for any kind of FDR backbone.

  4. Ggood

    Interesting analysis of the issues. But the point that screams out to me, maybe because I’m no longer in Massachusetts, is the collapse of the old systems of machine politics in Massachusetts in a race where Coakley should have had the entire Dem apparatus to draw on.

    Along those lines: few surprising results: She didn’t hold on to Middlesex or Lowell. (Is there bad blood between Niki Tsongas and Coakley?) The western part of the state went solidly for Coakley. (When did the Republicans lose all influence there?) Newburyport went Coakley. (In the old days, Scott Brown’s dad and his friends should have carried that for his son). Quincy for Brown? Really?!?

    All I can say is the times are changing, and that anger you reference is potent but unpredictable. Maybe that’s the lesson for Obama. You can’t tap into that anger when you need it and then turn your back on it once you’re elected.

  5. Todd in Haverhill


    I agree that a wave of populist anger was a big factor in Brown’s win, that he ran a great campaign, and she a not very good one. A lot of Brown supporters point to their interest in derailing health care reform. You’re right to point out that the health care bill has become a compromise laden mess. It has.

    But I really think the backdrop to this anger in Massachusetts has been the dismal erosion of credibility of high profile Democrats across the state. Consider:

    Finneran, indicted, convicted and just last week disbarred.

    DiMasi indicted, charges include sweetheart deals to deliver cash to himself and big contracts to connected friends.

    Sen. Wilkerson, indicted, photographed stuffing cash up her bra.

    City Councilor Chuck Turner, indicted, much lesser offense, but related to Wilkerson.

    These latter three were prosecutions all pushed by federal authorities and in each case Martha Coakley, as AG, caught criticism for the inaction of her office.

    Essex County Treasurer Tim Bassett, pension abuse, exposed by Globe. Other pension abuse also highlighted by Globe spotlight team.

    Boston Firefighters union, won’t agree to drug tests…this after the Tai Ho restaurant fire in which two firefighters died, one with alcohol in his system, the other cocaine.

    Another ranking fire officer busted for dealing pot, in uniform in his official car. Yet another out on sick leave pursuing a bodybuilding career. Ongoing disability pension abuse by firefighters through a scheme of filling in for higher ranking officers on sick leave, and subsequently retiring at higher pay grades.

    Menino, a mayor for life. Deval an ineffective Governor.

    State Sen. Galluccio jailed in a high-profile hit-and-run; and Sen. Marzilli, pleading out his sexual assaults.

    This is what has shaped the public perception of the Mass. Democratic establishment. Voters were primed to reject what is perceived as a self-serving status quo. Scott Brown perfectly caught that wave and tapped into the national issues you discuss, to leverage local dissatisfaction and disgust.

  6. Jan

    I read what you wrote, and I remain hopeful that President Obama will do what you say. It’s the only hopeful thing that could come out of this defeat.

    At the moment, though, I’m not thinking about tomorrow: I’m too angry and disappointed to look ahead.

    I don ‘t live in Massachusetts anymore, but I went to school there (BC and then Simmons for an MSW). I still think of it as home and I plan to return to New England at some point in the future.

    At the moment, however, I’m here in Florida — earning a salary that is equivalent to what a Starbucks employee makes up there. As a single mother, I struggle.

    I work currently as a therapist and have health insurance. But the chances of me seeing the benefit of that are negligible. I have a 1,500 deductible — which on my meager salary is enormous.

    I don’t go to the doctor because I can’t afford to.

    I was so hopeful that a public option would pass. When it didn’t, then I was at least grateful for what would. This morning, I realize that even that might be a lost cause.

    So what am I left with? Anger and disappointed with the citizenry of Massachusetts. I know the Senate race was ‘yours’ and you don’t have an obligation to those of us in Florida. We have our own (sorry) Senators whose leadership on this issues is nonexistent. If left to our own devices, and it appears we will be, we’ll never have health care.

    So, I looked to my enlightened ‘second’ home to do the right thing. I’m stunned. I expected more from Massachusetts.

  7. Patricia

    But the thing is, voting for Brown over Coakley did NOTHING TO Menino, Patrick, and the bad apples at the State House. The mayor and the governor still have their jobs (well, till their next elections). The State Legislature cannot vote on items pending before the national Congress. And 47 million Americans still don’t have health insurance.

    Don’t people have any clue about the structure of government anymore??

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Patricia: Here’s a quote from Brown voter Rex Kidd: “He is going to decrease my taxes and get rid of all the wasteful spending that Deval Patrick has done.” So the answer to your question is a resounding no.

      @BillH: To your point, a caller to Dan Rea’s show the other night described himself as a lifelong Democrat who was going to vote for Brown because he had “worked harder” than Coakley. I thought it was just about the most bizarre reason for voting for someone I’d ever heard. If you think the Democrats better represent your interests, why would you support someone who’ll “work harder” against your interests?

  8. BillH

    I agree with Dan about embracing the anger. FDR and LBJ knew how to do it and Obama may learn. Capuano embraces the anger better than anyone on the local scene and I think he would have won the election. I was impressed, nevertheless, with the number of people I saw interviewed on TV or in print who said that they had started out as Coakley supporters but had switched to Brown because he’s “principled” or because he ran a more energetic campaign. Interesting that starkly different ideologies in a critical election would take a back seat to campaign style.

  9. Stella

    You’ve been around long enough to know that the type of whirlwind that occurred Tuesday was chiefly fed by an unsure electorate whose skin crawls with the fear that they skate on thin ice. Hundreds of metaphors apply.

    Some voted for Brown, some voted against Coakley, but most love illusion.

  10. Steve Stein

    Dan (and BillH) – The fact that Brown obviously worked harder was the only reason I liked him. Not all interests are partisan. There are times when you need your representative to help you with some issue you’re having with the government. It’s called “constituent service” and it’s something Ted Kennedy and his staff excelled at, and I bet most of these constituent issues weren’t really partisan.

    Kennedy excelled at this because he worked really hard. The main reason I held my nose while voting for Coakley was that although I agreed with her stand on issues, I didn’t get the sense that if I ever needed to contact her on an issue, I wasn’t sure she (or her staff) would really help.

  11. LFNeilson

    I don’ know nuttin bout nuttin, but I think it was a matter of timing the campaign. Brown’s campaign was on a tremendous power surge in the last two weeks. Coakley’s people apparently didn’t plan their timing that well. I’d refer to it as the physics of politics — it’s hard to stop a snowball rolling downhill, especially after it’s become an avalanche.

  12. Peter Porcupine

    DK – while the margin of the victory was gratifying, the result wasn’t that big a surprise.

    For MONTHS, I have listened to progressives/liberals deride ‘teabaggers’. Stop and think – was inistence on that sniggering name going to win any friends? And please don’t think that it was an ‘inside’ joke, as those days of hidden derision of plebians by elitist Democrats in policy/agenda positions is over. There is the Internet now, and the curtains around back rooms are now cheesecloth.

    It’s all astroturf, trucked in from Texas and Mississippi? I’ve BEEN to Town Hall meetings, Liberty caucus meetings, and Tea Party rallies. I’ve talked to the people there, locals, most of whom had been uninvolved in politics, and were new to political movements. Then, after they held a rally or standout, they see in the paper the next day that 100 people get ignored while 15 progressives against the war get the front page. They read that they are all racist zealots who don’t really live here anyway. And they look at each other, and realize that those ads they’ve seen against Republicans are most likely lies as well, and look differently at Democrats.

    YOU are pragmatic, and would try to embrace anger. Your progressive fellows are already trying to minimize this, and claim that it’s only ‘anti-incumbent’, not ‘anti-Progressive’. Meanwhile, I’ll be at the Tea Party rallies with a sympathetic nod and cups of coffee.

  13. Bob Gardner

    I would throw in as a factor the cynical change in the election laws that allowed the Governor to pick an interim senator and then the governor allowing the Kennedy family to hand pick Paul Kirk. It seems like powerful people can get the law changed in their favor in a few days, but any change that benefits the public seems to get stuck forever.

  14. O-FISH-L

    Lessons for the Democrat party:

    1) Despite the gay priest scandal, it’s not yet OK for “progressives” to insult Catholics. Many Catholics do a terrific job in the Emergency Room, Martha, thank you.

    2) MCFL (Mass. Citizens for Life) still wields tremendous clout.

    3) Republican is not a four letter word. Coakley’s ads: “REPUBLICAN Scott Brown. REPUBLICAN Scott Brown. REPUBLICAN Scott Brown” were a plus. REPUBLICAN Scott Brown is now US Senator.

    4) Delahunt, Tierney, Frank and other extreme liberals…if we can take “Ted Kennedy’s seat” we can take yours. As President Reagan once said, you’ve “gone so far left, you’ve left America.” Time to shift right, or get out.

  15. Harrybosch

    “He is going to decrease my taxes and get rid of all the wasteful spending that Deval Patrick has done.”

    Hilariously reminiscent of that out of context quote from Obama’s election, where a woman said that Obama would pay for her gas and mortgage.

    A quote that was mercilessly mocked by the right-wing, I might add.

  16. admitted skeptic

    Currently the anger of the majority seems to be against the health care bills being considered. People who voted for Brown clearly knew his intention to vote against those bills. I don’t think that even the minority that supports it are really that enthusiastic about the monstrosity it has become.

  17. O-FISH-L

    @Dan and Harrybosch: Apples and pineapples. In addition to sharing African American and Chicago backgrounds, Obama and Patrick tend to share each others cue cards. It’s not really hilarious that the Brown voter would confuse the two, it’s understandable. In fact, Obama commented on it in 2008 when accused by Democrat Hilary Clinton of plagiarism.

    “Deval and I trade ideas all the time. He has occasionally used lines of mine and at the dinner in Wisconsin I used some words of his. On occasion, Senator Clinton has used words of mine as well.” — President Barack Hussein Obama

  18. I think there’s also a clue in the turnout, especially traditional Dem strongholds. Statewide turnout was 54 percent, not unpredictable for a single-race ballot, but markedly down from the 75 percent and above for presidential elections. But it was severely down in places where Obama was strongest two years ago. My simplistc read was the staunchest Dems stayed home content to have a two-year GOP placeholder who can’t do major damage(or so they think) rather than give Coakley the power of incumbency come 2012. I don’t think the machine put a lot of effort into it. I got 15 Coakley calls in my staunchly Republican South Shore home in the last week but folks I know in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, etc., didn’t get a one. Calls to me and my neighbors, at best, would tamp down Brown’s margin of victory. The lack of calls to Coakley’s base was a killer. And they knew it.

  19. Jack Sullivan

    Don’t mean to say I or my home is staunchly Republican (or Democrat for that matter.) My town is staunchly Republican was my intended observation. Good gawd, do I need editors.

  20. Harrybosch

    “In addition to sharing African American and Chicago backgrounds . . .”

    What exactly is an “African American” background? From what I know of them, Obama and Deval’s backgrounds are quite dissimilar.

    Telling that you’d point it out, however.

    “It’s not really hilarious that the Brown voter would confuse the two, it’s understandable.”

    It is amusing that a voter would believe a vote for Brown would have anything to do with Deval raising taxes.

    And you don’t need to defend every yahoo. With respect, it just makes you yourself look silly.

  21. Patricia

    I don’t find it amusing that someone would believe a vote for Brown would have anything to do with Deval raising taxes. I think it’s sad. And outrageous.

    As I may have said here before, I grew up in Massachusetts — in one of the communities in a solidly “red for Brown” region of yesterday’s electoral map — and I knew the difference between the State House and Congress before I was old enough to vote. I learned this from my teachers — two of whom eventually became state representatives themselves, one D and one R — and from my congressman, who visited my high school on a regular basis, even though we were at the far end of his district. Why is this learning no longer happening (besides the fact that these three former public servants are all dead now)?

  22. O-FISH-L

    @Harrybosch: FYI, an African American background is growing up black, in America. Clarence Thomas, Condi Rice, Deval Patrick and even Barack Obama have it, although at least one critic, African American Stan Crouch, penned a great column, “What Barack Obama Isn’t. Black Like Me.” Indeed it’s telling that I point it out. I like to be truthful, however painful it may be to you and some others.

    You’re right on one thing and I apologize. Brown’s election has nothing to do with Deval raising taxes. Brown’s election means Deval won’t be in office very long, so Deval won’t have the opportunity to raise taxes again. It will be the next governor forced to consider new taxes if the Louisiana Purchase, Nebraska payoff and SEIU carve-out remain in Obamacare, if passed.

    As for your comment that I look silly. Point taken. It’s that type of condescension that caused our groundswell. Shaking hands, in the cold, at Fenway Park was considered silly too. Keep it up.

  23. Ben

    Dan, you could be right, that the solution to all of Obama’s problems can be found in becoming a full-throated progressive. But that certainly isn’t what people voted for last night.

    On the Health Care bill, I think the Dems need to listen to Barney Frank here and not try to “ram through” (Frank’s words) reform before Brown is seated. Doing so would produce a predictable outcome – the program would lack legitimacy in the public eye and Republicans would have their ideal campaign issue for November.

  24. Harrybosch

    “FYI, an African American background is growing up black, in America.”

    I understand many of Obama’s formative years were spent out of this country. Not sure how that jibes with Deval’s background.

    “at least one critic, African American Stan Crouch, penned a great column, “What Barack Obama Isn’t. Black Like Me.”

    See my previous comment.

    “I like to be truthful, however painful it may be to you and some others.”

    Aside from essentially saying “they’re both black,” you have yet to support your claim that they “share an African American background.”

    If your point is they’re both black (though what that has to do with anything, I’m not sure) then point conceded.

    I’d also point out that Obama arrived in Chicago in his twenties, so I’m not sure whether your claim that they share a “Chicago background” can be supported as well.

    Unless you mean they both once lived there, then (though what that has to do with anything, I don’t know) point conceded.

    “As for your comment that I look silly. Point taken.”

    No problem. You’re welcome.

    “It’s that type of condescension that caused our groundswell.”

    No, my comment was directed specifically at you and no one else.

  25. Harrybosch

    “I like to be truthful, however painful it may be to you and some others.”

    When you retract your bizarre claim that MLK was a Republican (supported solely by a claim made by an estranged member of his family) then I’ll believe you like to be truthful.

  26. Bob Gardner

    Are they really going to seat this guy with only 53% of the vote? I thought they had to run the election over and over until someone gets 60%.

  27. Dunque

    MSNBC calls itself “The Place for Politics.” Media Nation might consider calling itself “The Place for Alternative History.”

    Dan, 1994 Bill Clinton won re-election in 1996 by taking the learnings from the congressional elections of 1994 and applying them.

    Your suggestion is for President Obama to thumb his nose at what appear to be very similar learnings.

    I suspect that many of his party in both houses of Congress may not be so eager to follow that particular lead.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Dunque: Clinton’s post-1994 presidency was inconsequential. His major accomplishments were stopping the worst excesses of the right and managing not to be removed from office. I think Obama would like to avoid such a fate.

  28. Great piece, Dan. One of your best. I agree.

  29. Al

    If Republican is not a four letter word, to paraphrase a post upstream, why was it largely hidden from Brown’s campaign pronouncements in lieu of “I’m an independent…”? The answer is that Republican does have a negative connotation to many voters, and laying claim to the independent moniker, was the claim to the largest bloc of votes the Commonwealth has, the unenrolled independent voters. It worked. Congratulations to him. My condolences to the rest of us.

  30. Steve Stein

    I think Obama should take a lesson from Ronald Reagan. Reagan faced a dismal economy that lasted well into his first term, and at this point had job approval ratings the same or lower than Obama’s. Reagan stayed true to his rhetoric and campaign promises, ran up unheard-of budget deficits and by 1984 the economy had recovered. Reagan kept his base together by keeping his campaign promises.

    Obama should do the same – ignore the polls, remember his campaign promises to his base, and let 2012 take care of itself.

  31. mike_b1

    @Dan: Do you think maybe those “callers” were pulling a fast one? I hear those guys, or read the letters to the editor, and I see the fingerprints of a stealth campaign all over them.

  32. mike_b1

    @Steve: Correct. And whatever he does, he should not tell the world his daughter is available to date.

  33. Dan Kennedy

    @mike_b1: You might be right about the caller. Just as likely is that the guy is in fact a registered Democrat but hasn’t actually voted for a Democrat in a couple of decades. We’ve got quite a few of those in Massachusetts.

  34. Dunque

    Clinton’s 2nd term was inconsequential, Dan. He never would have got there if he hadn’t paid attention to the message of the electorate in the wake of the 1994 congressional elections.

    President Obama risks a one-term Presidency should he not heed a similar message.

  35. Steve Stein

    @mike_b1 and Dan: Maybe you’re right about those callers. But maybe not. There are probably a number of 60-somethings that were very frightened about their Medicare from listening to Brown (even if they didn’t buy into all the other Tea Party Death Panel rhetoric).

    The HCR advocates in general, and Coakley in particular, have done a very bad sales job. This is one thing they’ve left hanging out there unanswered.

  36. mike_b1

    Only the craziest among us would try to turn an 18-member deficit in the US Senate into a sign that the majority party is screwed.

  37. Dan Storms

    Republicans will crow that Brown’s victory shows the triumph of conservative cultural values (which in practice so many of them never show); fiscal responsibility (of which they’ve had precious little since Reagan was elected, at least when it comes to their friends in big business and the military); and populist rage against a Democratic establishment drunk on socialist home brew (ignoring the fact that Obama, Reid, and Pelosi are all happy capitalist millionaires and are about as socialist as my Aunt Fanny). Democrats, gun shy and gutless for most of my adult life, will decide that their only hope of remaining in a position of supplication at the feeding trough of lobbyist money is to veer even further to the right, jettisoning the last tattered shreds of a social safety net as they ready their deficit-reduction special commission cum blatherfest, at which everyone will take aim at Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and AFDC or whatever they call it these days and no one will mention the obscenely obese military budget, swollen ever further by misbegotten attempts to create a permanent war on terror by manufacturing more terrorists with every bit of collateral damage in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and soon Somalia and Iran. After all, better to live on your knees than die on your feet, as long as you get some scraps from the table. The red-headed stepchild of health care reform, already beaten beyond recognition by private deals with Big Pharma and compromises to the unicorn of bipartisanship, is being abandoned, and down soon will go CO2 reduction, EFCA, Gitmo closure, consumer protection, and the rest of the progressive agenda that poll after poll shows the American public supports. Bankers will get to play once again with our money with no rules they need follow. Workers will continue to see what pitifully few jobs created shipped overseas as soon as feasible. After all, the Republicans have 41 seats in the Senate, how can any progressive Democrat possibly fight against such a mandate? As the philosopher said, “Think the time is right for a palace revolution/’Cause where I live the game they play is compromise solution.” A pox on all of them.

  38. Steve Stein

    This is pretty interesting.

    The areas of the state that were strong for Hillary in the 2008 primary correlate highly with Brown support. Those areas that went for Obama also went strong for Coakley.

    Why should this be so? Is this evidence of some latent resentment of Hillary supporters? Or is there something else at work? Or is it just coincidence?

  39. Rick in Duxbury

    @Fish: One of my Coakley robocalls stated “Scott Brown has voted to raise taxes numerous times, Martha never has”. And they accuse OTHERS of being disingenuous? Perhaps elsewhere one can still get elected by organizing a smug, pedantic a-hole caucus but, at least for now, it appears that dog will no longer hunt in MA.

  40. O-FISH-L

    @Dan Kennedy: “@BillH: To your point, a caller to Dan Rea’s show the other night described himself as a lifelong Democrat who was going to vote for Brown because he had “worked harder” than Coakley. I thought it was just about the most bizarre reason for voting for someone I’d ever heard. If you think the Democrats better represent your interests, why would you support someone who’ll “work harder” against your interests?”

    Dan, you make the same mistake Coakley did. The days of strict party loyalty are over and the successful candidate in any competitive race will work hard, doing things like door knocking, sign holdings, coffee hours, talk show appearances, even shaking hands in the cold, outside, at Fenway Park. Brown did them all.

    The personal connection is even more important for a legislative candidate, where voters perceive the winner won’t be able to do much harm or good as one among many. I heard of many unenrolled who “agonized” over their choice yesterday. I think it’s no coincidence that they came down on the side of the candidate who worked harder. As Tip once said, “all politics is local.” All politics is personal, too.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Fish: If the caller was an actual Democrat who believes in what the party stands for, then he is about to learn he’s the one who made a mistake. My suspicion, though, is that he was being disingenuous.

  41. Who is to Blame for the defeat of Democrat Martha Coakley?

    Now the aftermath of the Coakley campaign is the question who or what to blame?

    The pundits and next day quarterbacks who to blame and what is the proper analysis?

    Who are those at fault? Coakley, Campaign managers, Local, State or National Democratic Parties, Democratic Senatorial Committee, John Kerry, Congressional Delegations, Labor Bosses, Emily List, Abortion, Gay Rights Groups?

    Or high unemployment, costs of home heating fuel, food, gasoline, health insurance, mortgages, tuition, housing costs, employment, and job uncertainty caused the outcome?

    Were either Brown Coakley ready to run for US Senate? Are there those wondering Republicans or Democrats thinking today they could have won?

  42. O-FISH-L

    @Dan, I hear what you’re saying, but what does party mean anymore when candidates are all over the board on individual issues? Are we talking convention planks, that 99% of the electorate aren’t familar with?

    I mean, Steve Lynch a fairly high ranking Democrat in this state, was booed off the stage, and essentially out of the Senate race, for being skeptical about Obamacare. He would have beaten Brown, handily. Longtime State Sen. Richard Tisei (R-Wakefield) is openly gay (along with many of Weld’s cabinet secretaries) while the Democrat party is the one we think of for gay rights, gays in the military, etc.

    Party is no longer a boilerplate of where one stands on the issues, so I can see where a guy or gal who works harder would get the vote. The “party” is over, literally.

  43. Harrybosch

    “I want a chastity belt on [Brown]. I want his every move watched in Washington. I don’t trust this guy. . . This one could end with a dead intern. I’m just saying. It could end with a dead intern.”

    – Glenn Beck

    Welcome to national politices circa 2010, Senator-elect Brown.

  44. Dot

    I love the conservatives here who feel they’ve been disrespected, which is like a child crying that a parent is being “mean” for pointing out a lie the child has told. Liberals aren’t the ones droning about a socialist foreign born crypto-Muslim occupying the White House. They’re not the ones who scream “socialist” at a centrist President. They’re not the ones using Nazi imagery to defeat a health care bill. So really, when those conservatives start acting like adults and stop telling cynical lies, I will take them seriously on the merits of their arguments. I’m highly amused that Peter Porcupine, who I regard as one of the more thoughtful adults in the room, feels such sympathy for the tea party folks, who brought the unfortunate teabagger name upon themselves. Or is it any vote in a storm, PP?

    It’s beyond me what Small Time Scott Brown thinks he will actually accomplish after the campaign he ran. He was a willing blank slate at the right time–a man with no discernible legislative accomplishments, a truck, a willingness to pander to both sides of the culture wars, and a commitment to cutting taxes which is a promise he will never have a chance to deliver on. Did Coakley run a lousy campaign? Sure. Should she have gone out and shaken hands with people? Of course. Should she have figured out what years of exit polling has confirmed, that being perceived as a “nice guy” and pledging to do something about the finances of individuals is the way to win votes? Certainly. But Brown’s job was made a hell of a lot easier by a solid year of screams of “socialism” from the irresponsible. There’s not much you can do against irrational fear–fear of socialism, fear of terrorists, fear of losing one’s job, fear of those damn undeserving minorities getting health care or welfare benefits they don’t deserve–in short, the GOP has nothing to run on but fear itself. The road to 2012 should be a lot of fun, given the short memory of the American electorate.

  45. amusedbutinformedobserver

    Bottom line: The Democrats have no bench. Right now, the governor is a liability. In the past, someone would knock him off and relieve the party of that liability. This time, the best way to get rid of his drag on the ticket is for him to snare some presidential appointment.

    To borrow old racetrack analogies, pace makes the race and there are horses for courses. The dems have little, no up and coming stars in the legislature, a decidedly lackluster Congressional delegation, and an incredible lack of vision in the constitutional offices.

    Are Steve Lynch and Marty Meehan the best options for beating Brown or saving the Corner Office? It’s becoming frighteningly apparent the answer is yes.

  46. BillH

    Fish says, “Party is no longer a boilerplate of where one stands on the issues, so I can see where a guy or gal who works harder would get the vote. The “party” is over, literally.”
    Maybe so, but the positions enunciated by Coakley and Brown on critical issues were starkly different and in most cases irrenconcilable. If I’m pro-choice, how does Brown’s campaign style make me suddenly anti-choice? If I’m against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, how does the fact that Brown drives a pick-up truck make me support current military policy? If I want Guantanamo closed, can Brown’s admittedly energetic style make me change my mind? What I’m asking, Fish, is this: Can a flashy six-week campaign cause a lifelong liberal to switch positions on such critical issues? Leave out the word “party” and substitute “liberals” and “conservatives.”

  47. Dunque

    Amused – Steve Lynch’s own party activists didn’t want him for U.S. Senator. Despite his Presidency of the Ironworkers Local. Both parties tend to be full of litmus test types.

    Meehan is an interesting case. Sitting on a bundle of cash. Probably kicking himself now for not going for the Senate seat. But too much time on the sidelines is going to render him “Didn’t you used to be…” material perhaps.

  48. Nial Liszt

    Nobody is sitting on a bigger bundle of cash than Brown. The money was pouring in at the end- probably still is- even after there was no TV time left to be bought. Probably has a couple of mil head start on 2012.

  49. O-FISH-L

    @BillH: Just as an example, I detest Bill Delahunt’s politics but I like the guy. One of his daughters is a good friend, despite my politics. When I’m on the South Shore or the Cape and bump into Bill, it’s on a first name basis and then he asks about my family, by name. That means something. On the rare occasion that I call Washington, he responds, even if we disagree. I have held my nose and voted for my friend over inferior Republican candidates in the past.

    Now, Bob Hedlund and Joe Malone consider a run against Delahunt. Both are far more aligned with my politics, but do I vote against the guy who knows my name? Delahunt has worked hard to make me feel that I have a voice down there, even though I can’t remember the last time he voted the way I want on a major issue.

  50. Al

    Fish: You vote for who would be the best representative of your views, regardless of friendship, or in your case, acquaintance. Several of my close friends, and close acquaintances, I can only characterize as right wingers for their political views. They seem to be nice, caring people, but their political views escape me. I would vote against them in a flash. That includes a refusal to donate to their campaigns, unlike Steve Pagliuca who donated to Mitt Romney during his campaigns.

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