“First we take Massachusetts…”

That’s the celebratory refrain echoing throughout an intoxicated Lower Wingnuttia tonight following the apocalyptic win of the Naked Teabagger over his Democratic opponent in today’s special election in Massachusetts.  A Democrat who, until recently, everyone assumed would glide in on a magic carpet of spun sugar and fairy dust, carried by unicorns and dropped gently and effortlessly into Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat.

But you know what you do when you ASSUME!  And that’s pretty much what happened to the Dems in Massachusetts today.

Republican Scott Brown won a major upset victory in Tuesday’s special election for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy.

With 89 percent of the results counted, Brown had 52 percent of the vote to 47 percent for Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate, according to the the National Election Pool, a consortium of media organizations including CNN. Independent candidate Joseph Kennedy, a libertarian who is not related to the Kennedy political family of Massachusetts, had 1 percent.

Ted Kennedy‘s seat — how badly do the Democrats have to fuck up to lose Ted Kennedy’s seat?    Well, here’s three ways:

1. Democratic candidate Coakley ran a terrible campaign, expecting more of a coronation than an election.  She didn’t want to pound the pavement, and the teabagger did.

2. People are confused about the healthcare bill, and their mood towards it has been increasingly ugly.  And the more Congress fucked around with it, the less they understood or liked it.  Massachusetts already has their own healthcare system, so people thought they’d be going out of pocket for something they wouldn’t even be using, and the Democrats didn’t do much to disabuse them of that notion.

3. A lot of Progressives sat on their hands because they’re unhappy with the healthcare bill.  Somehow they think one less Senate seat will make it easier to get a more progressive bill passed… go figure.  In fact, this horrific dropkick-to-the-happysack of a high-profile electoral loss will probably move the Democrats closer to the center, not further away from it.

Expect much ugliness in the days to come, as Democrats gouge each others’ eyeballs out and chew off one anothers’ legs, and Republicans drunk with newfound power celebrate an electoral upset of epic proportions and bellow about even more carnage to come.  But when the hangover wears off, the teabaggers’ social conservative wing might be in for a surprise in their new Senator-Elect:

Once again, fetus fetishists get the SHAFT.  I knew there was an upside to this!

25 Responses to ““First we take Massachusetts…””

  1. 1 Bleatmop Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 5:01 am

    Only the democrats could lose this election. For all the talk about Palin’s handlers, at least she had some. Where were Coakley’s handlers for such an important seat? I guess there is one lesson in this, act like you don’t want a seat in the USA and the electorate won’t give it to you. I mean honestly, not even willing to pound the pavement?

    Also, a potential #4? 4. Never underestimate the power of name recognition in the ballot box. No Ted, no vote.

  2. 2 Cornelius T.Zen Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Good morrow, all!
    How did that jellyfish Coakley get the nomination in the first place? Brown earned those votes, and that seat, by working his butt-naked tail off. This should be a bucket-of-ice-water-and-raw-sewage-in-the-face wake up call for the Democrats.
    But, somehow, I kinda doubt they’re listening – CTZen

  3. 3 Cornelius T.Zen Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Maybe Coakley should have had Al Franken campaigning for her.

  4. 4 JJ Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Bleatmop – It’s funny you mention name recognition, because there was a third candidate whose name is Kennedy (no relation to Ted), and that might have made matters even more confusing for people.

    The lesson is, never take votes for granted. People like to think their vote means something… why go out in the cold weather and stand in line to vote if it’s a foregone conclusion? Voters don’t like that.

  5. 5 Rob F Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 10:42 am

    If Brown does not moderate, he’ll be toast in 2012, when people are motivated to vote. And I agree that Coakley was a horrible candidate, so if there is any plus Massachusetts would have been spared a terrible Senator.

  6. 6 JJ Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 10:46 am

    CTZen – It’s funny, she won the nomination by a landslide in the primary. The voters obviously liked her, going in. But then she wasn’t around, and while she was preparing to just slide into the seat, the teabagger was out pounding the pavement and talking to people. So people felt like they knew him better than the Democrat.

    Also this is a dangerous time for any election — the mood of the electorate is ugly, to say the least. With the economy, unemployment etc., a candidate really needs to work for those votes and sell their ideas to voters.

    If a seat as safe as Ted Kennedy’s could be lost, this should be a real reality check for other Democrats to get out there and sell sell sell.

  7. 7 JJ Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Rob F – Brown will absolutely be toast in 2012, there’s no question about that. Once people start finding out what he’s really about, he won’t stand a chance.

    One of the reasons he won was that people just knew he was a friendly guy going door to door shaking their hands, but they didn’t really know anything about his policy positions — there were all kinds of ways the Dems could have attacked him (ie. he supports torture) which would have made people recoil from him a bit, but they didn’t do it 😯

    They really deserved to lose. It’s just too bad it had to be Ted Kennedy’s old seat. That seat had so much symbolic value, the GOP will be unbearable after winning it.

  8. 8 burpster Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I think Glenn Beck summed it all up: This Brown guy will most likely end up with a dead intern in his office.

  9. 9 Peter Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    C’mon, JJ, take your lumps like a …err…never mind.

    The most soldly Dem Senate seat in the most solidly Dem state, which also happens the be one of the most sophisticated, educated and prosperous states, goes against all predictions to a little-known Republican at a time when a national debate on two wars, an economic meltdown and the most massive piece of social legislation in modern history rages nightly, and your explanation is that it’s all because he came across as such a nice guy that he magically charmed votes out of the electorate without their feeling any curiosity about what he stood for?

    You might get away with that kind of stereotyping about Alabama, but surely not Mass?

  10. 10 Bina Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    People are susceptible to charm (or lack thereof) wherever they’re from, unfortunately.

  11. 11 JJ Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Peter – Obviously the mood of the electorate was a major factor in this outcome, but that’s what I meant when I said “the mood is ugly” — not just over the healthcare bill, but over everything. Unemployment, the economy, the Democrats’ dithering in Congress over the HC bill, misconceptions over the healthcare bill — etc.

    It’s not a stereotype to say Brown won it by campaigning better — connecting with the voters is extremely important, especially when (a)they’re going from voting in a known quantity (Kennedy) year in and year out to voting for an unknown, and (b)they have concerns and questions about what’s going on. Brown recognized that and Coakley didn’t. Brown busted his ass for those votes, Coakley didn’t. Brown stood outside in the cold and shook hands, Coakley didn’t. I bet today she wishes she had — it could have made all the difference.

    Also, even though he was running for the GOP, Brown campaigned as a moderate independent, not a teabagger… he distanced himself from the teabaggers and kept GOP branding to a minimum in his campaign. Coakley’s campaign could have played this and other issues up a little more.

    As for policy positions, Brown basically campaigned on one thing: to kill healthcare. Which doesn’t mean that Americans hate the healthcare bill (although it’s getting more & more that way) — Mass. already has their own healthcare, and they were led to believe they’d be paying for something they wouldn’t be using, so the message resonated.

    But basically, that goes back to campaigning again– Brown ran a way better campaign, no doubt about it.

  12. 12 JJ Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    burpster – 😆 What? What did he mean by that??

  13. 13 JJ Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Bina – It’s not just charm, it’s accessibility. One candidate was accessible, took time to ask people for their vote etc., and the other one didn’t. People like that. Brown recognized that after years of voting in a known entity, the voters were looking at choosing between 2 unknowns, and he tapped into that, made himself the more known entity.

    It was smart campaigning, no doubt about it. He deserved to win.

  14. 14 fern hill Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I just love it that he is a pro-choice (albeit with restrictions) Catlick. Just like Pelosi. Ya think his archbishoppy-thingy will be denying him the cracker?

  15. 15 Peter Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 4:19 am


    I agree with you that people vote for a lot of different reasons, including the personalities of the candidates, but this meme from the left that it’s all because Obama and the Dems are waffling (“We’re just too nice!”) is simplistic in the extreme. If that were an common problem, candidates would naturally gravitate to pure ideological positions rather than seek compromise to woo the middle. There are exceptions that prove the rule (Kucinich, Goldwater, etc.), but they are exceptions.

    The middle/independants do seem to be in an angry mood these days, which is one reason the teabaggers are popular. What the ideologically committed right and left both seem to be missing is that, while the right hates government and the left hates big business, independants in the States have become very suspicious and distrusting of both. They didn’t like Bush and they don’t like Obama much, if any, more. Americans do indeed want affordable healthcare, but that doesn’t mean they will cheer a top-down, trillion dollar, brokered-in-secret bill to be implemented nationally from Washington and rushed through Congress as if the country were facing invasion. There were a lot of other options out there, starting with the feds facilitating a system implemented and even co-designed by the states, which, after all, is something like what we have. Those who are reacting to this by saying Congress should hold their noses and just ram it through in a panic are in la-la land, as I’m sure all those Reps facing re-election in November understand. Don’t forget this comes on the heels of big upsets for the GOP in NJ and VA.

    The other explanation nobody seems to be mooting is that this was a reaction against the Kennedys and their machine. It isn’t at all uncommon for long-sitting politicians to slowly alienate the electorate who, for some mysterious reason, keeps supporting them and saves their wrath for their successors. Think Trudeau/Turner, Mulroney/Campbell, Chretien/Martin and many, many others.

    If you want Obama to forget about trying to unite the country, return to his “roots” and fight populism with populism, then you are going to openly pit white/Asian, small city/town/rural/suburban self-employed/jobholder/intact family vs. black/Hispanic/inner city/intellectual/upper middle class/professional, with everybody addicted to angry rhetoric and in a beggar-thy-neighbour mood. Not nice, and I’d bet Obama would lose, but it’s been brewing for a while.

  16. 16 brebis noire Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 6:12 am

    JJ: here is a link, I’d love see see what you make of it.


    I watched the vid – beyond cringey. I’d hate to be that guy’s daughter.

  17. 17 J. A. Baker Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 10:03 am

    I just love it that he is a pro-choice (albeit with restrictions) Catlick. Just like Pelosi. Ya think his archbishoppy-thingy will be denying him the cracker?

    Of course not, fern! He has an R after his name! Do you REALLY think that the Catholic church and its enforcers leadership are the least bit interested in consistency?

  18. 18 JJ Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 10:55 am

    fern hill

    I just love it that he is a pro-choice (albeit with restrictions) Catlick. Just like Pelosi.

    And even the restrictions he favours are about in line with the average Democrat.

    I call him the Naked Teabagger, but in some ways, Brown seems like a fairly moderate Republican — think Mitt Romney. He ran as a moderate independent, backed away from the teabaggers (or at least attempted to), eschewed identification with the GOP brand. I can definitely see why Mass. voted for him. He’s more progressive than some of the Blue Dogs 😯

    I wonder how much of this moderateness was just campaigning (because that’s what conservatives have to do to get elected in Mass.) or if it’s real — there were plenty of teabaggers at his victory party. OTOH, Glenn Beck doesn’t like him 😆

  19. 19 JJ Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 11:01 am

    brebis – Although it was a bit tacky for him to say, IMO it was just a Dad teasing his daughters. I don’t think he meant “they’re available” as in “come and get them you horndogs”, he was talking to any prospective grooms who might be interested in dating/marrying them. It was a tacky joke, but I think progressives made too much of it. But that’s just me.

    What Beck said about the dead intern was a lot worse IMO. But if Beck doesn’t like him, that’s probably a good sign.

  20. 20 JJ Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 11:10 am

    JAB – I’ve read so many conflicting reports about this guy that I’m not sure what to think about him.

    I can see how the voters chose him, though.

  21. 21 JJ Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Peter – First, thanks for such a long and thoughtful comment. You gave me a lot to think about. Onward…

    This was an interesting race because the Dems were facing opposition from all sides — the right (as usual), the center/independents, and even progressives. Polls showed that something like 18% of registered Democrats who voted for Obama in 2008, voted for Brown 😯 and their reason was that they didn’t like the health care bill (because it didn’t have a public option) and wanted it killed, which was Brown’s primary campaign promise.

    I don’t know if those votes would have put Coakley over the top, but when your base is that upset, there’s trouble.

    this meme from the left that it’s all because Obama and the Dems are waffling (“We’re just too nice!”) is simplistic in the extreme.

    It would be oversimplification to claim that Democratic dithering is the only reason for the loss, but I think when you add it to the other reasons, it’s a factor. People elected these guys to get some things done, and so far it doesn’t look like they’ve done much. This is the Dems’ own fault for not tooting their horn more about the stuff they have gotten done, but it’s also true that they’ve been way too malleable. When Joe Lieberman kills a health care bill that he said he’d support just months before, and he gets to keep all his perks and committee chairs, people go WTF??

    But that’s minor. If other things were going well, people wouldn’t care if the Dems were spineless wimps, as long as they could see stuff was getting done.

    The mood of the electorate is ugly & uncertain, never a good thing for incumbents. It basically boils down to:
    (1) I’ve been out of work since last Spring
    (2) I’m having trouble paying my bills, meeting my mortgage
    (3) I’m struggling, yet the guys who caused all this trouble (Wall St., banks) are getting rewarded but there’s nothing for me
    (4) Somebody listen to me!!!

    This is the kind of electorate a candidate really needs to get out and talk to, just let them voice their concerns and reassure them. When they see all these banksters giving themselves bonuses and deals being made with pharmaceutical companies etc., it looks like the people they elected aren’t working for them. The very reason they threw the last guys out.

    This is what Brown did an exemplary job of, and Coakley dropped the ball. She should have been out there explaining how the Obama administration’s policies were going to benefit THEM. Instead Brown was out there being a sympathetic shoulder and Coakley was MIA.

    As far as healthcare goes, I’m starting to think the US isn’t psychologically ready for it. Unless it’s an expansion of Medicare, which is what they should have done to start with. Just put everyone on Medicare, bang. Done. Once it gets rolling and people see how it works, they’d be fine with it. Especially if they have a hybrid public/private system (IMO superior to what we’ve got), then people would end up loving it. Paying for it is something else, but they can’t afford to pay for the way things currently are, either. As you say, there are a lot of different options and there’s no need to ram through a bill that nobody likes.

    The other explanation nobody seems to be mooting is that this was a reaction against the Kennedys and their machine.

    Interesting point — I know that was true with Trudeau. Everyone voted for him over and over, and then spent the rest of his term bitching about him. I loved him, but when he stepped down I tore the front page out of the Vancouver Province (big headline: “IT’S ABOUT TIME!”) and pinned it up on my office wall 😆 So sure, there could have been a Kennedy-fatigue factor.

    If you want Obama to forget about trying to unite the country, return to his “roots” and fight populism with populism

    No, that’s not really what I want to see at all. But when the people who are supposed to be trying to work with you make it clear that all they want to do is destroy you, it’s time to stop kissing ass and start kicking it.

    Some people want Obama to go more to the right, and some want him to go more to the left. I think he should stay where he is, but just do what people elected him to do. Get something done, something tangible. First on the list, even before healthcare, should be jobs. Get people working again and they won’t have the time or the inclination to brood over all this other stuff.

  22. 22 JJ Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Peter – Something I forgot to address, that really bears mentioning because IMO it’s THE big story about this election:

    What the ideologically committed right and left both seem to be missing is that, while the right hates government and the left hates big business, independants in the States have become very suspicious and distrusting of both.

    Although Mass. is thought of as a blue state, it has a lot of independents — more than the national average — they’re Dem-leaning but they’re still independents.

    They deserted the Dems in droves on Tuesday, probably for the reason you point out — they don’t trust government or business, and right now, the Dems look like both government and buddies of big business.

    This is the trend that should worry the Dems, if indeed it does turn out to be a trend — that they could lose the independent vote nationally. To keep these voters they need to get on the stick with the bread and butter issues like jobs (and cracking down on WallSt wouldn’t hurt either).

  23. 24 JJ Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    JAB -That’s a real bummer… the biggest reason you guys have problems is because of campaign financing.

    Also, the Senate Bill was just rejected? I only read the headline, I need to go back and read further.

  24. 25 J. A. Baker Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    BTW, JJ, be sure to check out my comment on the “Don’t Piss Him Off” post…

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