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How The Democrats Lost Massachusetts [Morning News]

By brettsinger |

250px-scott_p_brownEveryone is talking about how the Democrats lost Massachusetts. Well, I’m going to tell you.

Democrats have not, in my lifetime, been very good at campaigning or politics. Whether it’s an inability to collectively hold the line on an issue the way Republicans can, or making incredibly stupid mistakes during the course of a campaign, there have been a lot of missed opportunities. How is it possible that Republican candidates can now say, with a straight face, that they are all about change and reform, that they are the party of the people? Look at this clip:

It’s the people’s seat.” In reality, this is a meaningless statement. The moderator, David Gergen, is asking a question and referred to “Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat”, something that countless news outlets have been doing. Scott Brown, the now newly-elected Senator from Massachusetts, jumped on that and made a YouTube moment out of it. That’s smart debating. Another example is the non-story about President Barack Obama’s comment regarding an ad that showed Scott Brown in a pickup truck. While the GOP Conservative Hive Mind tried to spin the comments as “anti-truck” which equals “anti-Regular Americans”, even the Wall Street Journal pointed out that “Obama wasn’t making fun of Brown for driving a truck. He was quite specifically suggesting that Brown is a Pickup Poser.” (That explanation was buried at the end of the article, of course, but it was there.) Here is what happened, according to WSJ.com:

“Forget the truck,” Obama said during a Sunday rally for Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley in Boston. “Everybody can buy a truck.” Brown, the president said, has “decided to park his truck on Wall Street.”

Brown’s campaign jabbed back in a statement on Monday. “Mr. President, unfortunately in this economy, not everybody can buy a truck.”

You see what they did? They made it look like Scott Brown is a man of the people. Because that’s really what politicians are. The good ones, anyway. Just Regular Americans trying to help other Regular Americans lead Regular American Lives. Which is complete nonsense. But it sounds good, and sometimes that’s all that matters.

Hendrik Hertzberg had a great essay in The New Yorker recently called Obama and The Left. The subtitle, “Um, Pathetic” referred to the concept of the Pathetic Fallacy, a term coined by John Ruskin in the 1800′s. As I understand it, the term describes the idea of giving human emotions to inanimate objects. (In this case, “pathetic” doesn’t mean “lame” or “weenie-like”; it means “capable of feeling.”) You know, kind of like, “Health care reform will ruin this country.” From a campaign standpoint, Republicans generally do a much better job of making use of platitudes and/or pathetic fallacies than Democrats. There is no network of Liberal Talk Radio, and most cable pundits are conservative. (They are part of what I like to call the GOP Conservative Hive Mind.) Does that matter? It does when you want to get out the vote. One recent exception is the John McCain presidential campaign, which appears to have been run by idiots. I’m not sure a Republican could have won the last election, and I think Barack Obama was a better choice, but the fact is that the Democrats ran a great campaign and the Republicans ran a crappy one. This particular election in Massachusetts, which has received national attention because of the implications for health care reform, it was the other way around. The notion that this election was a referendum on President Obama is nonsense, and another example of a pathetic fallacy. This is one election. Yes, Massachusetts is a state that has traditionally elected a Democrat to that spot. But what if Ted Kennedy’s widow had run instead of Coakley? Would the result have been the same? We’ll never know.

In other news…

Amazon is offering authors a larger royalty on e-books if they keep the price low. Good idea. I’ve been trying to train myself to read books on my iPod Touch; the experience isn’t terrible but I’d like a bigger screen. (WSJ)

Bigger screen, you say? What about an Apple Tablet? That might arrive next week on January 27th, which is when Apple has scheduled a press conference/media event/fanboi feeding frenzy — “Come See Our Latest Creation,” Apple says. (Pretentious much?) The speculation is that the fruit company will unveil a tablet computer of some kind. Now now that we’ve seen a lot of other e-readers at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, my interest is less than it was before; fanboi interest, however, is unabated. (Note: “fanboi” appears to be just another way to say fanboy, which generally refers to one who is a breathless fan of something. When the alternate spelling is used, however, it fanboi is usually derogatory. At the moment, The Hive — my term for the various comments, tweets and other user-generated chatter that pops up on the Interwebs — is using fanboi to deride those who feel the need to make ultra-positive comments about Apple on every message board and news article that mentions the company. Technically the term is Apple Fanboi, but I’ve seen just “fanboi” used and everyone seems to know they mean People Who Love Anything Apple Makes. Personally I prefer the term iHole, which I first thought I invented but then realized I didn’t. Sort of like people who think Apple invented the idea of a handheld device that makes use of add-on programs when in fact they did not. But I digress.)

Going back to politics for a moment, a new poll finds that “fewer Americans think Obama has advanced race relations.” (Washington Post) Because that’s his job, right? But wait, I thought that the Massachusetts election showed us that everyone felt President Obama was too focused on health care, and that’s why a Republican won Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat… sorry, I mean The People’s Senate Seat. Now people think he should be thinking about advancing race relations? Maybe this poll talked to different people. Or maybe it’s all meaningless.

Let’s end with something funny. This is a cartoon version of the Late Night Wars from a Taiwanese newspaper called Apple Daily. I’ll post two videos. The first is not in English, and I think it’s better. Not only because “it’s harder to focus on the awesome visuals when you can actually understand the narration,” as Gawker put it, but because said narration isn’t all that interesting and doesn’t always refer to the action. Or, to put it another way, the original is funnier.

And in English.

Scott Brown Image from Wikipedia

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10 thoughts on “How The Democrats Lost Massachusetts [Morning News]

  1. [...] You want to talk about how he did it and what it might mean for Massachusetts, the nation, and health care reform?  Go check out Brett’s Morning News. [...]

  2. Amanda B. says:

    If Democrats want to ignore this election as some kind of freak accident, that’s fine. They can continue trying to pass a government overhaul of healthcare, cap and trade, and another ridiculous “stimulus” package – that will just make it even easier for the GOP to take more seats from them in November.

  3. [...] own Brett Singer has done a great job looking at why it happened in today’s Morning News. Political statistician Nate Silver is playing the blame game over at 538. The New York Times has a [...]

  4. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    Pretty insightful commentary, Brett. The only thing I think you missed was what an abysmal candidate Coakley was. She expected this thing to be handed to her and made it clear that she didn’t care to work for it.

  5. Eric says:

    I don’t think the Dems are nearly as bad at politicing as you make them out to be. They get to beat on the Republicans as the ‘party of no’ just about all the time. Dems are like the parent who wants to give their kids everything, while the the other parent has to be the bad guy and say “we can’t afford that” or “that will make them dependent on us.” The drumbeat of “its for the children” (or whatever the group du jour is today) has sunk plenty of Republicans campaigns in the last 20 years. I think that this IS a referendum on what’s going on in Washington (not necessarily Barack but the whole deal). I think people would like an improved health care system, but are becoming increasingly convinced that whatever comes out of Washington isn’t going to be that. I really can’t say that I observed the candidates too closely, but I have to agree with Scorpio that Coakley certainly seemed to be a bad candidate. The couple of times I heard her talk it was like listening to paint dry. Maybe it was Red Sox Nation pissed off she didn’t know who Curt Schilling is? I’m just throwing that out there.

  6. Lisa says:

    Or it could simply be that America thinks this health care bill is going to make health care worse, that Obama doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing and that Congress needs to be reined in.

  7. [...] own Brett Singer has done a great job looking at why it happened in today’s Morning News. Political statistician Nate Silver is playing the blame game over at 538. The New York Times has a [...]

  8. [...] aren’t the only party with rich candidates. Farouk Shami is a Democrat who is running for Governor of Texas. He owns Farouk Systems, described [...]

  9. [...] says that “the last few weeks in American politics particularly unnerving.” Not because Scott Brown was elected, but because that seems to be more important to politicians on both sides of the aisle than the [...]

  10. [...] Scott Brown won the election in Massachusetts (or after the Democrats lost Massachusetts, depending on your point of view), there has been a lot of chatter about what “the [...]

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