Monday, January 18, 2010

Who's To Blame?

I am mostly living far from Massachusetts these days, but I've marinated in its politics for 25 years, and seen my share of reactionaries voted into office. The idea that the state's undecideds are breaking for Brown because of some generalized economic anger that Obama failed to tap is ridiculous. Think Sean Hannity, not Sacco and Vanzetti.

The "undecideds" in South Boston and working class suburbs like Lynn don't like Cambridge and Back Bay, but they respect its winners, when they act like winners. They watch hockey for the fights. Like most of us, they have a certain humility and expect famous people and experts to tell them what to think. But they haven't heard of Uwe Reinhardt; and they smell insincerity a mile away. I wish I had a bluefish dinner for every time Coakley referred to the health package as "not perfect." It all came out so forced and fake.

The real question Democrats have to ask themselves is: how come the greatest piece of social legislation since Medicare is something a progressive Democratic candidate for Ted Kennedy's seat has to speak so defensively about?

And we can look no further than Howard Dean, and MSNBC, and Arianna Huffington, and, yes, some columnists at the Times and bloggers at TPM--you know, real progressives--who have lambasted Obama again and again since last March over arguable need-to-haves like the "public option," as if nobody else was listening. They've been thinking: "Oh, if only we ran things, how much more subtle would the legislation be," as if 41 senators add up to subtle. Meanwhile the undecideds are thinking: "Hell, if his own people think he's a sell-out and jerk, why should we support this?"