Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I have long held three beliefs:

1). Nobody likes a crying rich man. (We all know the type: a person with high income who complains about taxes and spending for the poor, and then freezes his or her workers' wages or sends their jobs overseas once he gets his or her tax cut; i.e. a free market or free trade conservative Republican).
2. Nobody likes an aloof, arrogant, out-of-touch, elitist, limousine liberal. (We all know this type, too: one who believes in big government and programs for the poor [but would never be caught dead actually associating with workers or the poor], has plenty of money his or herself, and isn't the least bit hesitant about spending your tax dollars even as he or she takes advantage of a number of loopholes you don't have).
3. That candidate who most often and most enthusiastically works the crowds will be the winning candidate in an election. (Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, and now Scott Brown fit this mold. Thomas Dewey, Walter Mondale, John McCain, and now Martha Coakley did not).

Tonight, far right, free trader, teabagger conservative Republican Scott Brown achieved the unthinkable: he soundly defeated his Democratic challenger Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate special election to fill Teddy Kennedy's old Senate seat. The national repercussions of this (which I will get into momentarily) are huge. But three important reasons for Brown's success stand above all others. One, Coakley was a very lazy, ineffective, distant, and lackadaisical campaigner. There was little fire, desire, passion, or inspiration in her campaign speeches. She appeared comatose, and comastose drips don't win elections. Two, she simply did not get out to press the flesh as she should have. In contrast, Brown campaigned actively and was in all the right places at all the right times. Three, Coakley was ill-prepared and made serious gaffes on gut-level local topics. In an interview, she referred to former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, a Boston icon, as "a Yankee fan." THE Curt Schilling, who in 2004 helped the Sox defeat their hated Yankee rivals in the American League Championship Series, and then guided them to their first World Series championship in 86 years, pitching selflessly and courageously on a very injured, torn, bleeding ankle. Instead of door-knocking over the holidays, Coakley went on vacation. Now, if you're serious about an important political race, you save your vacation time until AFTER the election, not during the campaign. This she did not do. Perceived as aloof and out-of-touch by many voters, they vented their displeasure with her by voting against her. She and she alone BLEW it!

This has already caused unnecessary and unwise disputes and finger-pointing among Democrats. The White House is blaming Coakley and the Democratic Party for this defeat. The Party is blaming the White House and Coakley. But this blame game is pointless and counterproductive. For there is plenty of blame to go around. Coakley obviously ran a very poor campaign and thought she could coast into office in this normally heavily and reliably Democratic state. But the national Party also coasted and took this race for granted, too, not putting enough strategic and tactical expertise behind their candidate. And the White House also played it too safe, with the popular President not even bothering to go to bat for Coakley until the last moment.

Aside from Coakley's below-average campaign performance, both she and the Party failed to properly define her and her opponent. In recent years, Democratic strategists have failed miserably in this regard, whereas Republicans have excelled, even to the point of telling bald-faced, outright lies about themselves and their opponents. This campaign was no exception. While successfully painting Coakley as an aloof and out of touch candidate much like those in Washington, they successfully sold the lie of Brown as a populist, man-of-the-people type. This, of course, is blatant baloney, as Brown opposes much-needed government regulation of Wall Street and health care reform providing universal coverage, two things the vast majority of average, everyday working Americans would benefit from greatly (and wealthy special interests vehemently oppose).

It will now be extremely difficult for Democrats or the President to pass health care legislation the conventional way. Brown's election will now further embolden the wacko teabaggers and congressional Republicans, who will try to spin his election to mean a thorough repudiation of the President's agenda and a national rejection of the Democrats' "socialist" initiatives. Both of these assertions will undoubtedly be jumped on and advanced by Rush Limbaugh, Fox "News", and the Republican Party. They will also both be lies, but that won't stop them. For they have all institutionalized the lie as a political and campaign tool countless times over the past 16 years. If you thought the Republicans were obstructionist and uncooperative this past year, they'll REALLY be that way now! The net result of all this will not only be a stalling of the President's agenda, but it will also bring about a softening of his party's positions on issues. For the Democrats have never mastered Muhammad Ali's "rope-a-dope" strategy whereby one allows his opponent to dish out all kinds of blows but then finally comes roaring back with a savage and effectively victorious counterattack. No, the Democrats get pummeled and then they go cower in the corner until the next election bell sounds, when they find they are defeated by the judge's (electorate's) tally. If they're lucky, they end up with a split decision and hang onto numerical advantage. If they're unlucky, they are knocked out of office. But running campaigns like this current one will never allow them the pleasure of a knockout victory!

I painted a fearsome look at a possible near-future in my January 12, 2010 post "A Warning: How Did This Horror Story Happen?" Now I ask you: IS THIS THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME? The Republicans have successfully lied and convinced the voters that maybe Obama and the Democrats are spending too much money and are allowing too much government control to intrude into their lives and business in general. The TRUE story, of course, is that the President and Congress want to provide good and necessary change for the country, limiting the control banks, corporations, and plutocrats are exerting over us all, using the government to achieve these goals for the benefit of the overwhelming majority of the country who AREN'T wealthy or well-connected. But as long as we, the progressives, the liberals, and the true Democrats sit on our asses and don't loudly and forcefully stand up to these plutocratic conservative Republican and teabagger lies, we will see more defeats like tonight in Massachusetts. We will see a return to government totally for the rich and a Bush/Cheney style militaristic and aggressive foreign policy. But if we actively campaign for progressive candidates this fall, and, along the way, flood our newspapers and magazines with letters to the editor, and our social networking, with facts and info debunking and disproving Republican lies, this November's midterm election will not be a disaster like tonight's Massachusetts one was. And we must also hold our Democrats' feet under the fire and convince them to work on our behalf rather than soft pedalling and going Republican Lite.Our success or failure depends totally on US, so get with the program, people. Dig in your heels and FIGHT THESE REPUBLICAN LIES!



TRUTH 101 said...

This is Coakley's fault.

I have personal experience trying to work with people like Martha Coakley Jack. She is not up to the rigors of the campaign and in a way, it's a blessing she lost. If she is too dense, lazy or just plain scared to do the work it takes to win an election, what kind of senator will she be.

As a longtime political hack, politics aside, I appreciate and respect those that bust their asses to win an election. many times trying to win elections they don't stand a chance to win. Brown's a clown but respect the hell out of work during the campaign.

Jack Jodell said...

I catch your drift, Truth101. I think the national party was complacent, too, and here is one more case where the nomination of a corporate Democrat caused an unnecessary and disastrous defeat. The Democratic Party needs to quit putting forth these Republican Lite corporatists and return to being the strongly pro-worker, progressive party it was from 1930-1975, when it truly represented average citizens and didn't constantly defer to conservative corporatists. That's the only way they will regain the overwhelming support they once had but lost once Reagan and Gingrich pushed the political spectrum so far to the right. For nowadays, nearly every time the Dems go Republican Lite, they lose. And so does the nation.

Stimpson said...

I too respect those who "bust their asses to win an election." And I appreciate politicians who recognize the realities of class in their country and community. Coakley fails on both counts. Of course, so does Brown.

Lisa G. said...

Jack, I can't disagree with a word that you have said and strongly agree that we need to put forward more progressive candidates. But, I think there are other reasons to add to this: the economy and Obama. If the Dems do not get their heads out of there asses (which will be a feat it and of itself), pass this healthcare bill and DO something productive towards getting this economy back on track, then we are doomed in the fall. Also, some of this lies on Obama's head - he did not push hard enough on healthcare, Rahm sold us down the river, and Obama has not been forceful enough on the economy.

Here's what I think needs to be done:
- Lieberman: Strip him of his committee head, period. Baucus too.
- Harry needs to step down and a real progressive take his place.
- Obama needs to get a jobs program together, fast. Say we're using the repaid TARP money.
- Extend the unemployment benefits.
- Come down on those banks that are not re-financing mortgages. Fine them, penalize them, tax them. I don't care - make them pay. They are getting incentives to do it and they STILL are not following the rules. Sic the SEC, GAO and the banking regulators on them until they comply. Have Obama come out and say they have a "moral obligation" to do it.
- Remove the other provisions of TARP with the $14T of guarantees. TBTF should fail.
- Create a leverage tax so that these firms can't leverage themselves so heavily against their assets. This will ensure that they play by the rules, it will reduce their income and bonus pools, and eventually force them to break themselves up.
- Renact Glass Stegall.
- Cut off the blue dogs financing unless they tow the line. In other words, start acting like the Republicans.
- Get this BS fillibuster shite out of there. The Repubs passed horrendous legislation with 51 votes all the time. There is no reason why we should not do that too.

I'm sure there is more, but that's all I have for now.

Stimpson said...

Oh definitely, Lisa G, Lieberman should be removed from that committee chair. There was never any good reason to let him keep it. The main reason given was to have that magical "super majority" in the Senate, but the Dems never really had the super majority, did they? If it wasn't Lieberman, it was Nelson or Conrad or some other "moderate" standing in the way of 60 votes.

TomCat said...

Jack, this a well written and thoughtful post. As I said in my own editorial, we risk goose stepping into the future at gum point unless we abandon bipartisanship and business as usual and start delivering on change we can believe in.

Jack Jodell said...

You are oh so right. That's those damn corporate Democrats and conservative Republicans---both are clueless as to the realities of class.
Lisa G,
Thanks for stopping by. You are amazing, and are absolutely right on all counts! I love your butt-kickin; attitude and suggestions regarding the banks! If we had a Congress dominated wholly by people just like you, this would be a FAR better and more egalitarian country! I hope you write your Congressperson and Senators---they NEED your kind of advice! And again, I encourage you to start your own blog, if you haven't already!
Right on! These so-called "moderates" impede the progressive cause, and should definitely not be chairing important economic committees!

Jack Jodell said...

As is so often the case, I'm with you 100% on this, and thank you for the nice compliment. And I'll say it again: that was a helluva great editorial you ran today! Hope you're feeling better, my friend!

Jolly Roger said...

Honestly, I wonder just how much the President or the Congressional dem "leadership" really wants to change things. They have allowed every opportunity for great change to be watered down by their "blue dick" contingent, and they've spent enormous amounts of wasted time on "bipartisanship" with the most corrupt and unintelligent Rushpubliscum caucus this country has ever seen.

Coakley deserved to lose, which is not to say Brown deserved to win. I now wonder how many more of them deserve to lose.

Lisa G. said...

Well, they are not all mine, the husband ("Otis" on TC's blog) gets credit for one, but that's all!

I'm a no bullshit auditor (CPA) by trade and I hate people getting away with stupid shite like this.

Again, thanks for the compliment!

Lisa G. said...

I liked your blog so much that I kept on reading and posted a few more comments. Read them if you like.

Jack Jodell said...

Jolly Roger,
Thanks for stopping by, and I think you have a valid question. Let's face it: the conservative Dems of today are the liberal to moderate Repoublicans of yesteryear. Just like the Repubs of the 1960s and 1970s, they're sticks in the mud who really don't want much change because it would offend their big business contributors. So this awesome "Democratic majority" is a paper tiger made up of meaningless numbers. It's a weak and unruly coalition, and that isn't good. They need a strongman or Margaret Thatcher-type in both houses to herd them along, and neither Harry Reid nor Nancy Pelosi are it. Sigh!
Lisa G,
It would seem that you and Otis are my kinda people. I'll look for those other comments and comment on them too. I'm glad you liked what you've seen, and feel free to comment even if you see something you don't like!

Max's Dad said...

Are those the Democrats lying over in the corner sucking their thumbs? Unfortunately, I have the feeling it is them. Everytime they blow one, which is often, they somehow think they must get more conservative. Yet they keep blowing it. HELLO? The definition of insanity, we all know, is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Somebody needs to take the party by the grapes and drag them back into the ring. Howard Dean? I'm more frustrated than a teabagger at a Mensa convention.

Jolly Roger said...


Your dad is a wise man.

Beach Bum said...

As far a Democratic "rope-a-dope" strategy is concerned I heard Mike Barnicle say something this morning that needs to be thought about.

While Joe Scarborough was smugly sitting across his table talking trash, some rightly so, Mike said that the Democrats need to drop the current bill and bring one up that only eliminates preexisting conditions and makes health insurance portable. Then defy the Republicans to vote against it.

Yes, it wouldn't have a public option but after this election disaster I don't believe the current bill will pass. And using the senate nuclear option will, in my opinion, only blow up in the Democrats face.

Back to Barnicle's suggestion, I would also add a segment removing the anti-trust protection from the health insurance companies.

After years of Bush/Cheney my head hurts thinking that the country would even consider anything remotely similar to their failed ideology but we liberals have pissed away our advantage like a drunk sailor drinks away his paycheck with him wondering where in went the next morning. While on our drunken and stupid whining path to self-defeat the Republicans have ju-jitsu our butts and we will only continue to lose until we can put them into a position that will force them to show where their loyalties really lay, the people or big corporations.

Jack Jodell said...

Max's Dad,
Your point is right on the money. Every time the Democrats git hit with a GOP broadside, they end up going conservative, and it always DOES hurt them! Meanwhile, the plutocrats' cause is advanced and all the rest of the country, the majority by far, gets screwed again. Pathetically insane.
Jolly Roger,
You are oh so right!
Beach Bum,
You and Mr. Barnacle raise a very good point on the Democrats' woeful lack of effective political maneuvering over much of the past 30 years. They have constantly been outflanked by the GOP's lies and success in skillfully framing every issue. This would have never happened in LBJ's time. While he was a despicable liar and S.O.B. himself, he and his crew knew how to correctly portray the Republicans for the small-minded lot they are, and we could use a great deal of that skill today!

Infidel753 said...

Massachusetts is a useful lesson to the Democrats for November. Don't get complacent. Don't nominate crummy candidates. Fight every election as if it were a real fight, otherwise it may turn into one.

And above all, don't overreact!. People are talking like the sky is falling. This is one loss, by five percentage points, in one state.

There are nine months to go until November. Lots of things we can't anticipate now will happen in that time. The decisive issue will be jobs.