Don’t put the loss all on Coakley

Now that some time has gone by it might be a good thing to examine the stunning defeat of Martha Coakley by Scott Brown for the U.S. Senate seat once held by both the Lion of the Senate, Teddy Kennedy and his brother, John F. Kennedy.

In fact, the unthinkable happened. It has often been said that polls are nothing more than snapshot in time, but if you think about it, that’s exactly what happened in this election. It occurred at a given moment. If it had been earlier or later, Coakley might have won, making her the first woman to hold a Senate seat from liberal, blue state, Massachusetts. That in itself would have been historic and would have assured that a lot of people would have voted to make it happen.

Coakley is a popular attorney general, she had name recognition, and she did the people’s work. (Andrew Cuomo, take note.) She was no ball of fire as a campaigner but it is unseemly and condescending that the White House and some other Democratic big shots have been blaming the loss on Coakley. That was unfortunate. That is not the gentleman that we know Barack Obama to be.

Nope, something else seems to be at work here. The Republican noise machine has been hard at work. They own the commercial airwaves and have set loose such virtue-deprived individuals as Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and the other bought-and-paid-for conservatives to scream the case for their conservative masters. The big lie was at work.

Things are tough here in the United States. The eight years of the Bush administration seem to have been forgotten. The people who brought us like lemmings to the precipice seem to have gotten off scot free.

In fact, the people who have the most to gain from progressive reform of the system seem to be the first to swallow the lies of the noise-makers. In other words, the less educated we are, the more likely we are to grab onto outrageous political lies by the right-wing zealots.

Why aren’t those in the Obama camp out there telling people that these are the tax evaders and corporate bosses who brought us to the ruinous situation we now find ourselves in? It was not Martha Coakley who lost this election to the buttoned-down-and-obscure Scott Brown. Who mattered in this election, I fear to say, was the Obama White House, who have not remembered to dance with the ones that brought them. Obama should take a tip from George Bush and, if he means it, play to his base.

He should have come out swinging for something like Medicare for all. He should have held the bankers out to dry and shown them for the greedy, unprincipled lot they are. In his latest foray, he should have said that no more nuclear plants should be built until we know where to put the spent uranium and how to stop the troubles that have plagued the last generation of nuclear plants. His base would have killed for him.

You had better believe that Obama’s approach has been to seduce the Republicans by adopting much of their program, be it international or domestic. Unfortunately for him, it hasn’t worked. Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans stick together like glue. They are in it to defeat Obama.

Good public policy is the last thing on their minds. Even in cases where they propose ideas identical to Obama’s, the moment that Obama proposes what they support, they change their minds.

People sense that gridlock. They elected Obama to get things done. Too many are out of work. Too many don’t have health care. They will now kick this bunch out just like they kicked the last bunch out.

To put it mildly they are ticked off. Recent elections have shown it. Evan Bayh deciding to quit the Senate is proof. There is a lot of speculation why he decided but I have concluded he thought he would lose and that he’d never be president.

It wasn’t Coakley. It has been happening in New York State and across the country. If Obama doesn’t get it right he’ll lose his base. This all adds up to why Coakley lost. If Obama doesn’t see the light and lead he’ll be a casualty in a few years.

Originally Published in the Berkshire Eagle, 1/20/10

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One Comment on “Don’t put the loss all on Coakley”

  1. Tim Says:

    I think this dovetails with what you were saying during Vox Pop today, and I commented on this also. I was a protester at the 2004 RNC convention with a group called Billionaires for Bush. I did GOTV in 2004 and 2008 in Pennsylvania; I’m not doing it again. The reason is, there are things that are politically difficult like health care that involve the entire nation; I can understand partially some of the problems there, though I think it was managed badly. But there are also things which are only mildly politically difficult, which energize both Obama’s base and the new Republican teabagger base, but most people don’t care about. These have little long term political cost – FISA, Gitmo, Don’t ask don’t tell, etc. His team has had very little political courage in ripping off these bandaids and suffering a small amount of short term political pain from Fox News to energize his base. W was great at this… in fact it was all he did. Obama, for some reason, doesn’t seem to get that the cost of being the total bipartisan in this era might be that he has no one who really likes him in the next election.


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