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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

While Coakley Slept

Was it really just three weeks ago that local Republicans were furious that the Republican National Committee was allowing Scott Brown to twist slowly, slowly in the wind?

But here we are, polls all over the place and with Barack Obama scheduled to make a campaign stop for Martha Coakley (following on the footsteps of a Bill Clinton visit and robo calls). And with the national media asking whether Massachusetts will be the president's "Waterloo."

What the heck happened? My guess is a combination of factors.

I'm firmly with Joan Vennochi in believing this is more about Sal DiMasi and Deval Patrick than it is about Obama and health care. To most Massachusetts voters, the image is that of Beacon Hill fiddling while the Bay State burns. Rising taxes and fall services cast against a background of penny ante corruption.

Nor did lawmakers help themselves by engaging in machinations over who will fill Coakley's seat as attorney general when she moves on to Washington.

Pundits will also endlessly dissect Coakley's strategy to lay low, take the holidays off and insist on only debating Brown in the presence of independent Joseph L. Kennedy. Bad move with everything else swirling around.

Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum, and the Romney-seasoned Brown team pounced. Many point to the Brown ad where the candidate morphs onto the screen from and old black and white campaign commercial of John F. Kennedy as the starting point.

Brown parrots JFK's call for an across-the-board tax cut, a common GOP rallying cry and one the public will always listen to, no matter that GOP tax cuts are a big part of the reason for huge deficits we have today.

But a more apt JFK analogy is to his senior thesis at Harvard, examining the British failure to adequately prepare for the Nazi buildup, with the Coakley "braintrust" serving as the British government.

It was that somnolence, which also missed the small but virulent influx of the Tea Party movement, that turned the yawner into a nail-biter. And forced Obama to appear to be wagering his presidency on the punditocracy's "conventional wisdom" they helped to create from a 30,000-foot view.

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Anonymous MarkB said...

Let's start at the beginning and start with the candidate. She started with the advantage of state-wide name recognition and nothing else. She's never held a proper political office - AG is a professional job - so she had no record of success in legislation or governance. On top of that, her signal accomplishment in office is not indicting any Democrats. Martha slept, all right - she slept through her time as AG.

After that, everything else you say is correct. She wants to be senator so much that she tries to avoid facing the cameras during a debate and telling the voters WHY she should be senator. Cognitive dissonance? A long-time incumbent like Mumbles can avoid debates - he gets votes by inertia. Queen Martha does not get the "in spite of" vote - she needed to earn it. And apparently, the last thing she wants to do is earn it. And every time they pull Vicky out of the box, the old folks wonder "What ever happened to Ted's REAL wife?

January 17, 2010 11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like a lot of liberal Democrats have been asleep since the Primary expecting that Coakley would just be able to win without their help. Was good to see Capuano and his fellow congressional friends FINALLY re-emerge to help, albeit late. Ted Kennedy beat Romney by just 17 %...Ted Kennedy, male, incumbent, from most famous political family in the country, with unlimited funds to spend and 100% name recognition. Only a fool would have said a female (in a state that doesn't elect females much) with limited funds, no political family, just a solid record of service would be able to coast in with a double digit victory. But, all the gurus in DNC and DSC acted like that was the case...Coakley had the audacity to take Cristmas eve and Christmas day off...the rest of the Democratic party has been off since the Primary...

January 17, 2010 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Doug Rubin said...

I have to say, I disagree with your characterization of Governor Patrick, and your lumping him in with the other problems on Beacon Hill. Just to name a few things:

He has successfully managed a $9B budget gap, delivering responsible, balanced budgets on time that all three rating agencies recently reviewed and affirmed our AA rating, citing the Governor's pro-active and responsible management as a reason for their stable outlook.

He has maintained historic funding levels for our public schools throughout this economic downturn, managing to preserve Chapter 70 funding to keep our schools strong, and worked closely with the Legislature to pass a sweeping education reform bill that will directly address the achievement gap and improve under-performing schools all across MA.

He has reversed a decades-long trend of ignoring our infrastructure, pouring billions into our roads, rails and bridges to make them safer and help support economic development, and was able, after much talk by previous Republican Governor's, to reform the state's transportation bureaucracy, abolish the Turnpike Authority, and already save $250M.

Gov. Patrick has successfully implemented health care reform, so that over 97% of the state has coverage, and a recent poll showed overwhelming support in MA for our health care reform - at a time when the same poll showed disapproval with the national health care bill.

MA is becoming a national leader on clean energy, increasing our wind-power 10-fold by 2011 and increasing our solar power 15-fold (including thousands of solar projects in the state, 4 times the number of solar installation companies, and double the number of jobs in the solar industry).

Through the Governor's and the Legislature's efforts, loving couples are free to marry whomever they choose in our Commonwealth.

He has taken on entrenched interests on both sides of the aisle to bring about reform - bringing competition to the insurance industry to lower costs and bring more companies into MA, joining 49 other states by using civilian flaggers, reforming the Quinn bill (saving MA millions on both), and working with the Senate President and Speaker to end egregious pension abuses like "23 and out" and others through pension reform legislation.

The Governor confronted the ethical scandals on Beacon Hill head on - bringing together a bipartisan committee (that included Charlie
Baker) to propose tough new ethics laws, and working with the Legislature to pass the most sweeping ethics reform in decades.

He also worked to lower business taxes this year (the business confidence index has risen 10 out of the last 11 months), closed corporate loopholes, made investments in life science and biotech industries of the future, maintained our commitment to local aid through this crisis, and gave cities and towns better tools to manage their budgets.

My point is that it is not accurate to lump the Gov in with the other problems on Beacon Hill, without at the very least including the many things he has done in the past three years that have helped working families across MA.

January 18, 2010 3:37 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Thanks Doug. Stop by and make your case anytime.

But I probably take a lot less convincing than the millions of folks out there who have issues with the Governor.

It's no accident that one Brown ad has a picture of Coakley with the Deval and Sal. And while he may be doing quite a bit behind the scenes, I'm sure no one clamored for him to take an active role in her campaign.

January 18, 2010 4:14 PM  
Anonymous Doug Rubin said...

Thanks for the forum - I appreciate it. And just because the Brown campaign chose to put that picture in an ad doesn't mean it was effective.

The Governor has been campaigning hard and very publicly for Martha Coakley because he understands that we need to stand up for our values. In times like these, when people are nervous and frustrated, it is even more important to let them know we are on their side and have real results, results that make a difference in their lives and reflect our shared values.

January 18, 2010 6:23 PM  

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