By early afternoon on Tuesday, several hours before the polls closed on the special Senate election in Massachusetts, the Democrats had already thrown in the towel and started throwing punches. At each other. There was more finger-pointing among Bay State and Beltway Democrats than in a “Three Stooges” marathon. More backstabbing than all of the “Real Housewives” combined.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs confessed that President Obama was “frustrated” and “not pleased” by the closeness of the race after his salvation mission to Boston over the weekend. Operatives lashed out at Democratic candidate Martha Coakley’s listless, gaffetastic campaign. Capitol Hill buzzed with rumors that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was blaming the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and liberal pollster Celinda Lake for ignoring electoral alarm bells.
In response, Coakley’s team leaked a memo blasting national Democratic brethren for failing to aid them “until too late.” Another Democratic Party official counter-jabbed to Politico that Coakley had “been involved in the worst case of political malpractice in memory.”
On the sidelines, Democratic Rep. Barney Frank took to the airwaves to call for sabotaging Senate rules and ending the filibuster in anticipation of losing the magic 60th vote for the government health care takeover plan. Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer trotted out the old blame-the-GOP card — incoherently arguing that GOP candidate Scott Brown’s surge among conservatives, independents and once-reliable rank-and-file Democratic voters in the deep-blue state of Massachusetts was a backlash against Republican obstructionism.
“I think what the public is angry about is they see, first of all, an opposition for opposition’s sake,” Hoyer told reporters in D.C. If Democrats continue to cling to that outer-space nonsense, the shock they will suffer in the November 2010 elections will make January 19 look like a spa day.
As I write, the polls are still open. But win, lose or draw, Brown’s surge is an unmistakable victory for Tea Party activism. Online fundraising over the past few weeks buoyed the campaign and put Brown in the national spotlight. Buzz over a possible “Massachusetts Miracle” persuaded national Republican organizations to belatedly transfer funds for phone and mail get-out-the-vote operations targeted at independent voters.
There was nothing particularly “clever” about Brown’s election strategy, as White House senior adviser David Axelrod put it, or “radical,” as hysterical Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry put it. Brown ran a simple mainstream Republican campaign aided by nationwide grassroots support. The Tea Party movement once derided as “tiny” and “fringe” reportedly filled Brown’s coffers with small donations totaling $1 million a day for the last week, according to TheDailyCaller.com. He didn’t have to solicit their support. He earned it by reflecting the mood of Massachusetts voters who have turned against the Demcare scheme and its backroom deals.
An Army National Guardsman, Brown also drew sharp contrasts between his support for a robust, proactive national security stance and Coakley’s law enforcement approach endorsing civilian trials on American soil for jihadi suspects. Her cluelessness about the presence of the Taliban in Afghanistan didn’t help her soft-on-terrorism image.
In short, Brown ran on core issues of fiscal responsibility, limited government and a strong national defense, while appealing to a broader swath of voters by emphasizing integrity, independence and a willingness to stand up to machine politics. After a year’s worth of Democratic stimulus giveaways to cronies, reneging on transparency pledges, and Cash for (fill-in-the-blank) bailouts, voters have had enough of the enablers and water-carriers.
Brown channeled the energies of taxpayers of all stripes who are disgusted and angry — yes, ANGRY! — with the culture of corruption in Washington. That is how Brown has struck common ground with his insurgent center-right-indie coalition: by stepping up to oppose the Dems’ plans to rig the game and undermine representative government, instead of sneering at “Teabaggers.”
While a self-satisfied and entitled Coakley vacationed or partied with D.C. lobbyists, Brown drove around in his GM truck, shaking hands in the cold outside Fenway Park — earning the scorn of Coakley and Obama, who mocked Brown’s truck six times at the Boston rally this weekend to the delight of blue-nosed Democrats.
Rep. Frank griped at the Coakley-Obama rally that Coakley “let it become a personality contest and that was a mistake.” The supreme irony in hearing Beltway Democrats snipe at Coakley over her effete, out-of-touch attitude is that their commander-in-chief at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. suffers the same fatal flaws. Exactly one year after Obama was inaugurated, the Massachusetts meltdown mirrors the White House meltdown. For the sake of their political survival, Democrats need to stop promising change and start promising self-correction.