THE SPINE DECEMBER 7, 2010
Scott Brown, whose election this past January to the the U.S. Senate seat of Ted Kennedy, began the Democratic tsunami in American politics. It continued during the November balloting in local and congressional elections and in gubernatorial and legislative races. Sorry to say, everything bode ill for the Democrats. Which is is say that the news for the Republicans was all good...except for the fact that Democrats won big and Republicans lost big in both California and New York.
Actually, even in Senator Brown's state of Massachusetts, the Republicans lost everything in the November election, including the kitchen sink. Deval Patrick, the the Democrat incumbent governor running despairingly for a while for re-election, won quite handsomely. Every congressional seat went Democratic (including the 10th congressional district on Cape Cod, which plausibly was going the other way for a while.) For a few days, there was even some shock and awe that Barney Frank, the smartest and funniest person in the Congress, might lose. And, mirabili dictu, Martha Oakley, a real bore and a real hack, won re-election as state attorney-general by a staggering 27% although she lost ignominiously to Brown in the senatorial bi-election.
So what was thought to be the dawn of the Tea Party revolution in the state that fathered both versions of it over two centuries simply petered out. And the truth is that Scott Brown is no reactionary. Moreover, he has more wit and much more charm than his dreary opponent.
I knew from the beginning that the Democrats who'd begun to imagine Brown as some neanderthal were repeating the same mistake they made when they launched a hysterical campaign against George H.W. Bush's nomination of David Souter to the Supreme Court. I suppose you might say to me "Q.E.D.," and you'd be roughly right. But Brown does know what state he hopes to represent ad infinitum or until his party's national convention designates him as its vice presidential nominee.
He's no dummy, as I've written a few times. And he is not for "Don't ask, don't tell." You can't win if you are. But in the end he may have gotten a twofer. He (and his Republican colleagues) got from the president the administration's commitment to leave the reactionary and oh, so latitudinarian revenue tables--that is, very low tax rates on very high incomes--as they were when George II was president. Some "progressives" are threatening a revolt against Obama's renomination as a consequence of his betrayal. (I suggest Newark mayor Cory A. Booker as his opponent.)
Anyway, Brown has won his wager on low, low taxes And he will now be able to vote against John McCain, his party's last presidential nominee, who now reveals his true self as a homophobe...along with a smattering of the top brass in the military.
Now, it's true that Obama hasn't been at all brave on this issue either, leaving the hard political work in the Congress to Robert Gates, the secretary of defense, and Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Brown is far ahead of the president on this one.