Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Boston delivers a message to DC!!!

The city of tea-party, the state that was the crucible of America's birth today redrew the contours of American politics. Massachusetts (MA) today elected a republican as its senator. In more than 50 years no republican has been elected as senator from MA. The election was for the seat held by Ted Kennedy for 46 years. Registered democrats outnumber republicans by 3-1 margin. MA is considered the bluest of the blue states. Often pejoratively referred as an adjunct of left wing Canada. Bumper stickers saying "Don't blame me, I am from MA" are common. Barack Obama carried the state by more than 25 points. Its here that strident left wing populism has at last met its match. Its MA that sent a loud signal to the cohorts of Obama and Obama himself "thus far and no further".

This is an election filled with ironies. At the height of Obama Vs Hillary's heated primaries the Kennedy's came out swinging against Hillary. Many in their clan, with no compunction or sense of irony, called out Hillary on dynasty politics. The greatest irony was Ted Kennedy calling on Hillary to get behind Obama and not scuttle his chances against McCain. This same Ted Kennedy campaigned to the bitter end against Carter, a sitting president. When Teddy was diagnosed with brain cancer and the diagnosis was grim everyone buried their grievances and waited for the lion of the senate to go into the sunset. There is no argument that Ted Kennedy's stellar role in the senate had resulted in a raft of legislation that touched every living American. Sensing that his days were numbered and that he may not be around to deliver the crucial vote needed by Obama for the "health care reform" Teddy in a parting shot recommended to the Gov of MA and the state senate that they amend the rules such that the democratic Gov. could appoint a democrat in his place when he died instead of, as mandated by MA constitution, hold an election. Now MA constitution had earlier been amended to hold a special election to fill a vacancy instead of appointing someone by the Gov. That was done when John Kerry ran for presidency. In order to prevent a then republican Guv appointing a republican in case Kerry won the presidency and had to vacate the senate seat, at Teddy's prodding, MA democrats altered the constitution to hold a special election. That was 2004. In 2009 there were not sure so they decide to reverse themselves. After all, this is politics.

Anyway finally an election was due in April 2010. Martha Coakley, state attorney general of MA was the democratic contestant. Her tenure as AG itself had its share of controversies. Scott Brown, now the most searched Scott in google, state senator of MA, one time nude model for Cosmo, was the republican contender. Martha, leading by 30 points, as recently as Nov 2009, thought she could coast to victory in "Teddy's seat". Along came Scott in a pickup truck who criss-crossed the state and reminded people that it was nobody's seat but the 'people's seat'. While Martha vacationed, Scott and his truck did the rounds. Nobody gave him a chance. After all were not republicans damaged beyond repair thanks to GWB? Republican party was in disarray just a few months ago. What changed in Nov. '09?

In Nov '09 NJ and VA went to the polls for a gubernatorial election. Obama made history by carrying VA, no democrat had achieved that in 40 years. NJ was a democratic leaning state, it was a toss-up in '04 Presidential election when Bush tried to wrest it and failed. In both states the democratic candidates lost decisively despite active campaigning by Barack Obama. It is to be noted that in both states no republican big wig campaigned. Especially in NJ. In both states democrats tried the scarecrow tactics of "Bush-Cheney" to no avail. In NJ incumbent governor Jon Corzine released despicable ads tying his contender with George Bush. Both states resoundingly slapped such tactics with an unambiguous verdict.

By now the tectonic plates in DC were starting to move. In a hurry to pass healthcare reform democrats started acting like Tammany Hall bosses of yore. Deal after deal after deal was struck with individuals in closed door sessions, bills were padded, unions were humored, threats of taxing the super rich to no end were freely flaunted. Obama got his comeuppance. Obama's magic in winning the election was portraying himself as a new age messianic-politician above the dirty rumble tumble of political skulduggery (forget it that was forged in Chicago politics). Now the independents and youth who worshipped him were dumbstruck.

The final straw was delivered a week back when the boss of AFL-CIO threatened the democrats with severe backlash if their super-generous, employer paid, health plans were taxed. He suggested instead to, well what else but tax the rich. He and the democrats were banking on the residual anger in the populace against the rich for the economic crises. But somewhere the American public decided the stench of such deals was repulsive enough and decided to stop "socialism run amuck" in its tracks. Along came Scott Brown in his pickup truck. He just did hard boots on the ground campaign, promised to derail socialism, did not bring any republican big wig but just locals to campaign. The mood of the country and MA voters turned in Dec.

Obama and his cohorts were still in la-la land. Dana Milbank, Washington Post correspondent, wrote a prescient article in today's edition that merits a lengthy quote:

"One salutary result the Senate election in Massachusetts could have for Democrats is it could wipe the grin off Robert Gibbs's face.

The Democrats' panicked struggle to hold onto Ted Kennedy's seat in the liberal state had, whatever the outcome, showed how badly the party's brand had been damaged over the past year. But as the White House press corps challenged President Obama's press secretary on Tuesday afternoon, Gibbs answered with his usual mix of wisecracks and insults.

"Broadly speaking, can you talk about the difference between 59 and 60 votes in the Senate and what that means for the president's agenda this year?"

"Broadly, it's one," Gibbs answered.

Will Obama hold a news conference Wednesday to discuss the results?

"Be here around 10 a.m. If we're not here, start without us."

Whether it was Gibbs, the White House spokesman or Martha or Obama himself, complacency and arrogance compounded each other until this past week. Finally Martha woke up.

The democratic party sent its stars one after other capping it with Bill Clinton and Obama himself. As Milbank trenchantly observed, "This is the most visible manifestation of a larger problem the Obama White House has. Many Obama loyalists from the 2008 race still seem, after a year on the job, to have trouble exiting campaign mode. They sometimes appear to be running a taxpayer-funded rapid-response operation".

I am very thankful for the voters of MA for having sent this message to DC. If the voters of MA could be swung thus one can only imagine the seething rage in the rest of the country.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Aint gonna get your second term Mr. President!