Coakley vs. Brown: No Really, How DID We Get Here?

BlogHer Original Post

I spent the better part of the afternoon preparing a post on Scott Brown as a response to Morra before I suddenly realized that, for the most part, my post wasn't so much about how great Scott Brown is and was, but more how great not having universal health care was going to be. Now, to be honest, this wasn't really my fault. It was merely a reaction to the arguments I was hearing in favor of Marcia...pardon me, Martha Coakley, which boiled down to, essentially, this:

1. Scott Brown will not vote in favor of the Senate health care bill.

2. Scott Brown doesn't like abortion.

3. Bush did it.

4. Its Massachusetts. Democrats are supposed to win in Massachusetts.

None of these are particularly convincing, not to me, and apparently not to Martha Coakley, who flubbed at least the fourth one by misspelling Massachusetts in one of her campaign ads (via the Washington Times) and then insisting that legendary Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling roots for the Yankees. And her faults don't end there. In a move that Reason called remarkably "Palinesque," Coakley lists visits to her sister in England as foreign policy experience. I'm not saying that this speaks metaphorically for the rest of her campaign, but...it speaks metaphorically for the rest of her campaign.

Its almost as though there's been a failure on the part of the DNC to recognize that a terrible candidate who is running on policies that aren't polling well might not be able to carry the weight of her campaign. What Obama was able to hide or explain away with sleek campaign tactics and widespread personal appeal, Martha Coakley has barely been able to conceal under her veneer of amateurism. And the people of Massachusetts, based on recent poll numbers that put Brown anywhere from 5-9 points ahead of Coakley in the solidly Blue state, aren't buying it.

But of course, as I said, you can't blame it strictly on Martha's Keystone Cops campaign (or, for that matter on the lingering curse of the Bush years, as Sister Toldjah points out many Coakley supporters seem to be doing). As the Boston Globe notes today in its story on the race, Massachusetts residents are overwhelmingly opposed to the policies the Democrats believe Martha Coakley is necessary to save.

Yet even in the bluest state, it appears Kennedy’s quest for universal health care has fallen out of favor, with 51 percent of voters saying they oppose the “national near-universal health-care package” and 61 percent saying they believe the government cannot afford to pay for it.

Sort of kills the argument that people across the country should unite in support of Coakley in order to make darn sure that the will of the people - the passage of the Senate health care bill - is, indeed, preserved. Also killing the argument: while, yes, there is overwhelming support from Republicans for Brown, Republicans are a rare breed in the Kennedy fifedom. Scott Brown is gathering the support of independents and those who haven't declared a strict party affiliation. He's building not a "right-wing" but a center-right coalition.

As for the fear regarding women's health, that seems to come from a strange interpretation of Scott Brown's own record. While I hate to agree with David Frum, Scott Brown is not the epitome of the "talk radio conservative" - he's no twin for the caricature that liberal news anchors and talking heads have created over the duration of the Tea Party movement. Brown is pro-choice, though he chooses not to run on the subject, and champions what he feels to believe - and what I suspect many Americans feel are - common-sense restrictions on abortion services. As for his belief that Catholic hospitals and health care workers shouldn't be forced to dispense treatments that they deem contrary to their religious beliefs, the First Amendment's Free Exercise clause backs him up on the subject. To think that concientous objection is anything other than protected by the Bill of Rights may lead you into a long and arduous legal battle.

In the end, the people are breaking for Brown for the same reason I like him (not because he drives a truck or because he's hairier naked than Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds combined), the reason that Michelle Malkin articulates:

Brown has run on the core Tea Party issues of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and a strong national defense, while appealing to a broader swath of voters by emphasizing integrity, independence, and willingness to stand up to machine politics. After a year’s worth of Obama’s phony fruits and congressional foxes guarding the henhouse, voters have had enough of the enablers and water-carriers...Brown has struck common ground with his insurgent center-right-indie coalition.

We're not so hard to get along with. Well, unless you're in government. In which case, we're probably not interested in making sure you keep your job. And that is, in the end, what this is all about.

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