Who is Scott Brown, the man who could realistically replace Sen. Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts, and launch a Republican resurgence that points to the end of Barack Obama's presidency? He got off one of the great lines of recent campaigns when he was asked in a debate about taking Kennedy's seat and said, "With all due respect, it's not the Kennedy's seat, it's not the Democrats' seat, it's the people's seat." He's right, and Democrats including Brown's opponent Martha Coakley have been moronic to act like he's wrong.
Brown is also a cipher who's backed by right-wing Tea Partiers and Birthers while trying to dodge the association. He's shrugged off connections with the Tea Partiers while attending a fundraiser they held for him; check out their Facebook page organizing against Obama's visit Sunday. Brown poses as a reasonable Republican, but told a reporter during the Republican National Convention that he wasn't sure President Obama was born within wedlock. In the interview he looks like the same smarmy dude who's now backed by the right wing but posed for a Cosmopolitan centerfold. You can watch the exchange here:
Now Obama himself is forced to come to the Bay State to campaign for Coakley, in a race that shouldn't be close. Smart political observers say Obama only decided to show because he knows Coakley can and should win. But even if she does win, this race shouldn't have been close. What should this tight race tell us?
First and foremost, it tells us that the overconfident, undercharismatic Coakley has botched the race since she won the primary. Every political reporter I've talked to has stories about how she and her campaign thought they were just going to walk into Kennedy's office. This was Massachussetts, after all, and some of their confidence was understandable. But a certain kind of hubris wasn't. Asked by the Boston Globe why she was running such a disengaged campaign, she joked, “As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?’’
If Coakley loses, that will go down as one of the worst political lines in history. And if she does fall, party leaders will be blaming it only on the candidate. They'll be wrong: DNC chair Tim Kaine as well as the DSCC should have to answer for the party's terrible overconfidence in Massachusetts, too.
If she wins, though, Democrats can't take for granted that their message was validated. This party is in trouble: Nobody understands its complicated health care reform plan; the economy is still pinching many people, and too many voters don't know if Obama and the Dems are on the side of the overdogs or the underdogs. Like most Americans, and most Democrats, I have better things to do this weekend than pay attention to a race that shouldn't be one. Let's hope this is a wakeup call to the party that just a year ago was celebrating what seemed like a glorious realignment.