Massachusetts, the proud commonwealth that voted for George McGovern, has voted for the first Tea Party senator. I’ve been too busy (and depressed) to write about it, but I’m slowly becoming philosophical about it all. As Brian McGrory wrote in the Boston Globe the day after
I’m going to need some Advil and a cold compress, please. I’m the Massachusetts Electorate, and I have what is bar none the absolute worst hangover of my entire voting life.
Seriously, I was so drunk on power, so caught up in the moment, so free of any of my usual inhibitions, I can’t remember what’s gone on these last two weeks. Think, Electorate, think. What did I do?
McGrory goes on to describe the Massachusetts electorate’s seduction by Scott Brown.
And now I’m vaguely recalling that stranger across the room, the one in the barn jacket who kept smiling at me and seemed to know my name. Martha vanished for a while, and – is it bad that I’m saying this? — I didn’t really care.
Suddenly, that tall, handsome man was standing at my side doing something that Martha rarely did – offering to pay for drinks, chatting me up, curious what was on my mind.
Every time I ever tried telling Martha about my day, my hopes, my dreams, she shushed me up and said she was preparing a legal brief or watching Law & Order. And now there’s a stranger telling me he could change my entire world.
I had been hoping that Coakley might pull out the race – even if it were by a few votes – until she spoke at the Martin Luther King Day breakfast. Speaking before a friendly audience which loves it’s politicians, Martha did not get a standing ovation or a “you go, girl” shouted from the audience. Martin Luther King, III was more eloquent on her behalf than she was and he lives in Atlanta. That was when I began the process of resigning myself to the inevitable.
There were lots of reasons she lost. She ran a very poor campaign and Martha has always seemed uncomfortable campaigning, pressing the flesh. She always talks like a prosecutor. I represented the Somerville Women’s Commission on her Violence Against Women Task Force and I know she believes all the right things. She would have made a good, hard-working Senator but she never made the case. Maybe she thought until the polls started to turn that she didn’t have to work hard for the seat. Democrats appeared to have voted for her. She lost the swing independents.
Where were her Emily’s List supporters that helped her defeat Mike Capuano in the Democratic Primary? Why didn’t she have the money to advertise more? (probably too many people like me who wanted to vote for her, but didn’t feel moved to give her money.) She never, that I recall, ran an ad that defined who she was as a person. One that showed her with her dogs and husband walking on the Charles River or something. We all learned about Brown’s truck. Unions and other supporters didn’t seem do much. Was it because they thought she was a shoe-in or because she didn’t find a role for them in her campaign? (there are rumors to that effect) Instead of reaching out to the independents and Republicans, I’m sure we were like every Democratic household in the Commonwealth: We got robocalls from everyone about her. President Obama, Bill Clinton, and Angela Menino, the Mayor’s wife. (We have to find a better way to get the word out and get people out to vote than all these endless calls. I stopped answering the phone.) But with all the calls, she never fired up her base. She’s running for re-election for Attorney General now and maybe that will go better. People may feel more comfortable with her as their lawyer and than with her as senator.
Meanwhile we have to face the reality that Scott Brown is our Senator for the next 3 years. He once pointed out that it was 3 years, like a test drive, and we could vote him out if we didn’t like what he did.
I like Congressman Capuano’s take during an interview with one of the local public radio stations
Political watchers have already begun talk of Capuano mounting a challenge for Brown’s Senate seat in 2012, but Capuano laughed off that idea.
“I have never in my life had the luxury of planning my political career three years in advance. I think we need to let Mr. Brown have an opportunity to prove himself, to prove whether he is the independent he claims to be or whether he’s a lockstep Republican or something in between. I hope he’s a great senator for Massachusetts.”
I don’t know if Mike would have been able to beat Brown, but he would have gone down with a fight, not a whimper.