Perhaps Democrat Martha Coakley should have played “The World Turned Upside Down” at the “concession” party.
Only a few weeks ago, not many people outside of Scott Brown saw much opportunity for a Republican victory for the senate seat that had been occupied by Ted Kennedy beginning in November 1962 until his death last year.
But on the 364th day of Barack Obama’s presidency, the voters of Massachusetts made history and dealt a stunning blow to the White House by electing a Republican to the US Senate in the biggest political upset in decades.
What drove the electorate of a state that had gone to Obama by a margin of 62% to 36% to embrace a Republican who made no secret of his determination to stand athwart of the Obama agenda as Senator 41?
Let’s start with the candidates: Brown was as exceptional of Republican nominee as Coakley was an inept candidate.
While Brown came off as anything but a typical Republican stuffed shirt, the Democratic attorney general did not hide for disdain for retail campaigning.
Coakley undoubtedly lost a number of hockey fans and came off as a snob for mocking her opponent’s pressing the flesh outside of the Winter Classic, the NHL’s traveling annual outdoor hockey match that has become a major hit with the sports fans and just so happened to be held this year in Boston.
“As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?”, remarked Coakley when asked whether she was working hard enough while referencing her Republican opponent’s willingness to engage in such pedestrian politicking.
Then there was incident where a Coakley supporter right in front of the candidate shoved a conservative reporter down to the ground.
There were plenty other gaffes made by Coakley and her campaign that the Obama political team will not so discreetly put out on the street to distance their folks from the historic defeat.
But even if Obama operatives were not guilty of running a poor campaign, the policy cornerstone of his presidency proved to be a millstone around Coakley’s neck as the voters of Massachusetts rejected ObamaCare in policy and process.
How can I say this? Because the Democrats tried to make the election a referendum on health care.
The health care plan’s devilish details and the manner by which it had been bulldozed through Congress while the president and his allies disingenuously proclaimed that the process has been transparent was insulting to the public.
Voters in Massachusetts aren’t conservative in their voting tendencies, but they’re not fools and even a silver tongued orator can’t persuade most people that 2+2=5.
This was also a rejection by blue state voters of the blatant nine-figure “incentives” dangled in front of US Senators from “purple states” in order for the Democrats in the US Senate to corral the votes needed to pass ObamaCare.
Finally, this was a rejection of the machine politics that led to the manipulation of Massachusetts election law to conform the conveniences of the national Democratic Party.
Back in 2004, the Democrats in the state legislature changed the rules on senatorial succession when there was concern that Republican Governor Mitt Romney could be in position to appoint a fellow Republican to replace “president-elect” John Kerry in Congress’ upper chamber.
After Ted Kennedy’s death, the Democratic-controlled state legislature once again changed the rules, this time to accomodate the passage of President Barack Obama’s agenda.
Ironically and justly, the law of unintended consequences kicked in and those who custom-built laws to based upon party and not governing principle got precisely what they deserved: plenty of egg on their face and a Republican US Senator.
Adding additional fuel to the fire were the words of Democrats so blinded with self-righteousness and partisan obsession, that one had to think they were ranting in a vacuum.
MSNBC personality Ed Schultz proclaimed on his radio show that if he lived in Massachusetts he’d vote ten times and would cheat “to keep the bastards out”.
Then there was talk of Massachusetts officials making a point of dragging out Brown’s certification as the winner, thus providing gubernatorial appointee Paul Kirk more time in office to rubber-stamp Democratic legislation.
Democrats elected to Congress have been seated expeditiously before all of their paperwork was in order as recently in the upstate New York congressional race where the Democratic victor had a far narrower margin than Brown and any delay in swearing in Brown could further taint an Obama agenda that has already been setting off Geiger counters with its political radioactivity.
And then there was the line that defined what the race was really about: whose Senate seat was it? Did it belong to the public or was it an heirloom of a state political icon to be willed down to any given Democrat?
On Tuesday night, the people reclaimed their property.
The significance of this election regarding the Obama agenda cannot be overstated for this reason: if a Democratic US Senate candidate isn’t safe in Massachusetts, then where exactly are they safe?
With her campaign for US Senator ended, Ms. Coakley will probably sleep well tonight. California US Senator Barbara Boxer probably won’t have as restful of a slumber.