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Democratic Silver Linings (Gail Collins, 01/21/10)

January 21, 2010

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Democratic Silver Linings

New York Times | January 21, 2010

Gail –Your analogy to virginal sacrifice is amusing, but far from apt. Martha Coakley is nothing even close to an exemplar of chastity, nor has she ever been a potential bearer of something that might be of value to the tribe. Rather, she’s a full-blooded member of that class of entitled hacks that thrives so heartily in the entrenched machines of elderly institutions of all kinds, and in all cultures.

It’s more than a little frustrating that you and your fellow scribblers have glommed on to this election as fodder for your insatiable op-ed holes. All politics ARE local, and the true story here is that Martha was a product of a sclerotic machine, and sclerotic machines don’t function well in changed environments. Or, in a little less abstract mode, Martha has never been terribly well-liked by people in The Commonwealth – she has a long history showing up at train wrecks long after the last survivors have been pulled from the wreckage and proceeding to stand on whatever soapbox the press has set up for her broadcasting whatever safe message might put her firmly on the side of safety and self-righteousness. Her behavior in the Fells Acres day care case is emblematic: long after it became obvious that the Amiraults had been railroaded – even after the MA Parole Board voted 5-0 to release Gerald Amirault – she continued to cover the butts of her political cronies by blocking the process, thus continuing the travesty for several years past its sell-by date. This is a woman who’s never demonstrated an ounce of true leadership, has always lined up on the side of the powers-that-be, and is clearly the kind of bureaucratic functionary who stands to get creamed in any contest with a charismatic outsider.

You and your fellows have it 180 degrees wrong: Scott Brown didn’t WIN the race because the Massachusetts electorate suddenly turning on our deeply-held values. Martha Coakley LOST it because only those of us who were willing to look beyond our visceral loathing of her to the broader national implications were motivated to stand in the rain, noses well-pinched between thumb and forefinger, and vote for her. Unsurprisingly, people like us were outnumbered by an angry mob with blood on its mind.

I guarantee you, if you put two well-matched candidates up, the progressive would have won hands down. And even Martha, a festering emblem of all that’s wrong with American politics, would have won if she’d gotten off her butt and run an actual campaign rather than playing queen for a day and expecting the world to come to her.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. LSFoster permalink
    April 16, 2010 4:10 pm

    You refer to “an angry mob with blood on it mind” as the group that defeated Martha Coakley. Where do you suppose this anger came from? DId it arise from the notion that Martha was not a great candidate? I think not. It came from anger at Washington. Anger at Democratic leadership that seems hellbent on doing things their way. The election of Scott Brown should have served notice that the electorate is paying attention and is not happy. In most years, Martha would have been elected in a landslide.

    • April 16, 2010 4:28 pm

      Lawrie — I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. Yes people are angry, but there are always angry people at the ballot box. My point is that if she’d gotten off her lazy ass and worked the tremendous assets that were at her disposal as the Democratic candidate, she would have won. Maybe not in a landslide, but handily.

      The more interesting question to ponder is the source of that rage. Surely you you can’t believe that the Democratic leadership is somehow MORE hellbent on doing things its way than the Bushies were? Even if you buy the current Republican party line about things being “shoved down people’s throats” (which is BS, but that’s a topic for another time), I think we both know history a little better than to think that it even comes close to how the Republicans managed congress from 00–06. Or the wholesale hijacking of The Constitution engineered by Cheney? Or the crony capitalism related to the Iraqi war, or the deconstruction of the regulatory system that led to the financial crash…?

      In fact, as I’m sure you know, many of us on this side of the spectrum have been deeply disappointed that the Democrats haven’t been anywhere near as assertive at progressive policy goals as the Republicans were in pushing their agenda for 8 long, painful years.

      My point is that whatever the anger, it’s wholly unrelated to anything exceptional done by Obama, or Pelosi or Reid. My sense is that it’s a tantrum that’s been thrown in reaction to the wholly unfamiliar feeling of being beaten for a change…a matter of being able to dish it out but not take it. A bitter pill, I know, and one that doesn’t go down easy. But trust me — you guys will get used to it. As they say in cellblock D — the first time’s the most painful. :-).

      But hey — I appreciate the comment (truly!), and I hope you keep pushing back where you feel it’s warranted. We don’t have to agree, but I still love hearing what you have to say!

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