You Read it Here First: "Surprise Anxiety for Favored Democrats" in Massachusetts

by Martin Peretz | January 8, 2010

Right in a prominent location in yesterday's New York Times, there's a big story by Abby Goodnough, spread out over two pages, telling us that the Democratic candidate to succeed Ted Kennedy may lose. A big and really desperate photo, too, of the late senator's widow, Victoria, and Robert Kennedy's smiling (but probably still irascible) son Joseph, who used to be my congressman, and Teddy's successor-for-four-months Paul Kirk endorsing Martha Coakley, now attorney general of the Bay State.

Don't get me wrong: I intend to vote for her on January 19. I do not want the Republicans to gain any seats, the more so as that party stands for (almost) nothing in which I believe. So call me a party loyalist, even though my loyalties are very much strained. But, then, I care most about foreign policy ... and my party does not give a damn.

But the grim facts are that Coakley is a lackluster nominee, and she has not made much of anything with her years in state office.

Mrs. Kennedy gave her endorsement at a center for the elderly in Medford. I can just imagine the pathetic scene. But the Democrats do know where the loyal voters are. Coakley will get none of the fashionable Dems in the university precincts and also none of the suburban independents: She is just too Irish for them. And, if it snows on Election Day, the senior citizens just won't go to the polls.

I can't think of a reason to be for Scott P. Brown. But the Times has adduced as some of his advantages the fact that he serves in the Army National Guard and that he is very much against the health-care omnibus overhaul.

After noting that she hadn't been campaigning much at all throughout December, the article quoted Coakley saying that "she had been busy preparing for debates..." This brought to mind the first real campaign in which I was involved. This was 1968, and I was working for Eugene McCarthy. We could never get him to prepare for debates. "I've been in politics for a quarter-century. Do you think that I don't know the issues?" Actually, he won all the debates in Oregon and California. Gene won Oregon, and Bobby won California by just about a hair. But Kennedy was assassinated that night by almost the first Palestinian terrorist working abroad. That brought a whole era to an end. Richard Nixon became president. The rest is history.

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