Sunday, January 17, 2010

Talk about the issues, Coakley

"How did it end up this close?" will be a question studied by academics and "pundits" for ages. There is no earthly reason that the typically measured electorate of Massachusetts would even be considering Scott Brown as Senatorial material, yet he's tied, perhaps leading, in the polls for Tuesday's election. So what's happening?

My answer is that the electorate of Massachusetts isn't considering Scott Brown as Senatorial material. They're not thinking of Coakley and Brown as possible Senators, but as celebrities.

Brown has masterfully guided this raise from any semblance of the issues, with a narrative-hungry media playing accomplice. When I call voters, they're not talking about health care, torture, or foreign policy. They're talking about the "negative tone" of the campaign and "it's the people's seat". This is a conversation where Brown has a shot, especially with his excellence at playing victim, and sending out his daughters to do the same. He's moved the question from who do you want doing the work of a Senator to who do you want to be Senator. It's a fine difference, but it allows him to move the conversation from the issues (where he loses) to random crap (where he does well). It may seem crazy, but George W Bush turned this strategy into two electoral victories.

The media, of course, has joined in, shelling Coakley with questions about the "negativity" of her campaign -- heaven forbid anyone point out what a nut Brown is -- and focusing on process stories. Unfortunately, bringing in Clinton and Obama makes it look that Coakley is playing down to Brown's level, hoping to borrow some charisma against his. Answering these silly questions rather that insisting that we talk about foreign policy or health care is a disastrous move. The race starting getting wobbly when the issues took a back-seat. The fact that Brown is too cheap and cruel to pitch in on his own employees' health care isn't as important as the fact that Coakley supports a regime where those employees don't have to rely on the goodwill of their bosses for affordable health-care. The fact that Brown breaks military policy by posing in his uniform for campaign materials isn't as important as the fact that Coakley supports a policy where the military isn't risking soldiers' lives by carrying out a dead-end mission in Afghanistan.

I personally find that the most effective thing in talking to voters is to stick to the issues. The message you send with your vote will be received that day. The consequences of your vote last two years. What consequences do you want?

Placing any limits on US government use of tortureYesNo
Women's medical needs override personal beliefs of doctorsYesNo
Returning tax rates of the rich to Reagan/JFK-era levelsYesNo
Expanding health care coverage of AmericansYesNo
Respecting entirety of Roe v WadeYesNo
Preserving equality in marriageYesNo

The values of Attorney General Coakley are the values of the people of Massachusetts. This is the reality that Brown is trying to drown out with noise about his pickup truck and tender feelings. This is the reality that must be hammered home over the next 48 hours, top to bottom.

PS: Future studies of "what happened" would also do well to examine the decision to keep the Mass. Legislature in session over this period to discuss attempts to throttle labor rights in connection with Deval's education bill. Had all these folks been organizing, instead of defending the idea that contracts should be enforceable by law, how would things have gone differently?


Anonymous said...

When reflecting on "how it happened" you might consider Coakley's dismal record; prosecuting innocent people, refusing to prosecute child rapists because they're "connected", being so removed from the average Bostonian that she sneered at campaigning "outside Fenway Park?", "in the cold?", and "shaking hands?" and saying that Schilling, one of the best Red Sox pitchers ever, was a Yankees fan ! But, if you insist on the candidates talking about issues like foreign policy, we've already got Coakley's take on Afghanistan . . . the Taliban is gone from there !! There's just no way anyone could vote for a dope like that.

Quriltai said...

ZOMG!!!!!! She doesn't know which team Curt Schilling played for a few years ago!

Quick, elect the guy who drives a truck!!!!!1!

PS: Coakley was referring to al-Qaeda's vanishing act in Afghanistan, not the Taliban.

You reactionaries crack me up.

James Patrick Conway said...

Gotta agree with you sabutai. This was the reason we were both Capuano supporters because he had a keen grasp of the issues and actually campaigned on how progressive and in touch with MA his stances were. Coakley vaguely ran on a record of helping out old people at the AG and the importance of being a woman. She is basically running the same risky campaign that Shannon O'Brien ran. Elect me because I am a woman, Romney/Brown are anti-choice, and that's why you should vote for me. I think the strategy is flawed, and bringing in these big guns from the Kennedys to Obama and Clinton might actually hurt her. Their is no rationale for why she would be a sensible, progressive, and independent Senator and until there is we will continue to see the indys break for Brown. Many of them Obama supporters, many of them ignorant of what Brown really stands for.

Lastly, to his credit, Brown is not anti-Roe v Wade. Again to beat Brown we must not peddle falsehoods, but he supports Roe V Wade in its entirety, Roe v Wade allows for a state or even a federal regulation of abortion after the first trimester (read the decision) and Casey v PA Gonzales v Carhart upheld that right. But certainly on the other issues those distinctions are accurate and again make Senator Brown a very troubling prospect for our state.

Quriltai said...

Well, Brown has a...nuanced view of Roe v Wade. He won't outlaw all abortions, but has taken up positions that are inimical to some provisions of abortion access. He's not against all abortions, but he does seek to throw up obstacles to abortion for people seeking them.

Anonymous said...

You have some rather confusing views.

David Whelan

PS..Reville should be fired.