Return of the Bambino's Curse

You know it’s bad for Democrats in Massachusetts when — 24 hours before an election — the bookies are paying off on the Republican candidate.  For that to be happening in a special election for the Senate seat held since 1952 by Kennedy brothers Jack and Ted, in the most liberal state in the Union, is about as likely as my seeing a unicorn among the deer grazing on my farm.

But yesterday an online betting outfit named Paddy Power announced it was paying off for Brown as the winner saying, “Enough is enough. It seems that [State] Senator [Scott] Brown just has to get out of bed tomorrow to win convincingly. As far as we’re concerned this race is well and truly over.” Now, I’m not used to dealing with online bookies, and the ones I knew of long ago in the Bronx all had names ending in vowels.  They tended to be all business and — from what I heard, of course — always paid off promptly. But not before something actually happened.

Paddy Power’s payoff cannot to be ignored.  

Republican Scott Brown is so likely to win today that bipartisanship has finally reared its head in Washington. President Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) seem to agree that the election is a referendum on Obamacare.

In a televised debate a week ago, moderator David Gergen asked Brown if he’d be content to “sit in Teddy Kennedy’s seat and [say] I’m going to be the person who’s going to block it [liberal health care policy] for another 15 years.”

To which Brown famously answered, “Well, with all due respect, it’s not the Kennedys’ seat, and it’s not the Democrats’ seat, it’s the people’s seat.”

Two days later, Brown repeated his opposition to Obamacare telling Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that because Massachusetts already has mandatory healthcare insurance (a.k.a. “Romneycare”) Brown said, “Why are we subsidizing, why would we pay more, for something we already have? It makes no sense.”

Brown is fortunate to be running against Democratic State Attorney General Martha Coakley who, to be kind, is a very cold liberal fish.  After Brown stood outside the Bay State Cathedral — Fenway Park — shaking hands with Sox fans, Coakley was criticized for being too inactive.  She replied, “As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?’’

Coakley may — with that one remark — have revived the famous Curse of the Bambino and transferred it from the Red Sox to herself.

For 86 years, the Boston Red Sox failed to win a World Series.  The string began in 1918 when Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth — the biggest hitting, best player of his age (and perhaps any age) — to their nemesis, the New York Yankees.  The Sox had won four World Series in eight years with Ruth, and then — under the Curse of the Bambino — couldn’t win another for almost nine decades.

Coakley disrespects the Sox and their fans, but Brown embraces them and they apparently return the favor.  One Curtis Montague Schilling, a Sox pitcher of some repute (the only pitcher who has won World Series games in his 20s, 30s and 40s) endorsed Brown in the Senate race.

In his written statement, Curt Schilling said of Brown, “He’s for smaller government, stopping the concentration of power in one political party, a strong military and vigorous homeland defense, as well as — and probably most appropriate and meaningful right now — giving all Americans health care, but not by creating a new government insurance program.” He added, “This state can literally change the nation in one day…Think about that, and then go vote for Scott Brown and make it happen.”

President Obama came to Massachusetts on the campaign’s final weekend to stump for Coakley.  In one appearance, he told the audience “Understand what’s at stake here, Massachusetts. It’s whether we’re going forward or going backwards.” He added, “If you were fired up in the last election, I need you more fired up in this election.”(They are, but not in the way Obama will find comforting.)

Obama’s charm offensive was more offensive than charming.  Of Brown, he said, “Bankers don’t need another vote in the United States Senate. They’ve got plenty.”    

Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-1 in Massachusetts, so independent voters will decide the race.  And a poll released Sunday — the day of Obama’s visit — shows where they may be going.

The tally by Public Policy Polling — a Democrat-oriented firm — found that Brown leads Coakley among independents by 64%-32%, a 2-1 ratio.  PPP found that 64% of likely voters say Coakley is a liberal, 58% label Brown as a conservative.  Overall, PPP found Brown ahead by five points, 51%-46%.

One of PPP’s base findings showed Obama’s approval rating at 44% to 43% disapproval.  And, we need to remind ourselves, this is in Massachusetts.

President Obama campaigned in 2008 on two themes: that George Bush and everything he did was bad, and that Americans should be convinced again that government is good for them.  But he has so badly overplayed his hand that American independents are more distrustful of government than any time since Jimmy Carter proclaimed malaise in the land. And that distrust — if Scott Brown wins today — is the main thought Massachusetts voters will have had in mind when they enter the voting booth.

In 2008, Obama campaigned as the “post-partisan” candidate, promising transparency and bipartisanship.  But there is none of either in his governance.  For an entire year, liberalism has run amok in Washington.

In a series of year-end polls, Rasmussen Reports found that 68% of Americans believed that government doesn’t represent them, 52% believed government will do too much, 58% were opposed to Obamacare and 78% believed Obamacare will cost more than advertised.

Democrats were able to explain Republicans’ Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial wins last year as localized events.  They won’t be able to do that if Scott Brown wins today.  It may be that the Curse of the Bambino returned.  And it may not be just the end of Obamacare.  A Brown win may be a portent of change we can believe in come November.

Cartoon by Brett Noel.


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