What Karl Rove’s temper tantrum on Fox News last night was to national politics, Howie Carr’s column in today’s Boston Herald is to Massachusetts politics: the petulant rantings of a spoiled brat:
“Scott Brown never had a chance.
It’s amazing. This guy is probably the best retail politician in the state. He worked his way up the greasy pole, from assessor to selectman to state rep to state senator to U.S. senator.
“He’s for us,” his yard signs said. They might as well have said, “He’s one of us.”
But all of it counted for nothing. He couldn’t beat “the machine.””
Senator Brown may have slept well last night, but if so it’s more likely because he was exhausted than because he knew he’d run the best campaign possible. Because he didn’t.
The recipe for Republicans winning statewide in Massachusetts is simple: be fiscally conservative, socially liberal and tempermentally moderate. Be a “nice guy”. If you came from money, wear it easily (e.g., Bill Weld). If you didn’t, show that you’re still a “regular guy”.
Scott Brown had all that…and then he threw it away by spending months talking about nothing but Elizabeth Warren’s ancestry. What’s worse, he did so in an ungentlemanly way—derisively dismissing her claims and mockingly referring to her as “professor”. (Not a good call in a state that has more PhDs., BAs, colleges and universities per capita than just about anyplace else on earth.)
When that didn’t work, his campaign spent millions attacking Warren’s work for asbestos victims—twisting the truth so far that he ended up dismissing her counter-ads as being filled with “professional actors”. (In fact, they were filled with survivors of actual asbestosis victims.)
Brown ended the campaign on a relative high note—extolling his own bipartisan record and urging voters to “vote the person, not the party”. The politics of personal destruction in which Karl Rove and his disciples excel (American Crossroads GPS spent heavily on mailings and robocalls on Brown’s behalf) trashed Brown’s “nice guy” reputation and left suburban swing voters open to Warren’s reminder of the consequences of Republican control of the Senate.
The other key swing constituency in Massachusetts’ elections is its cities. Boston Mayor Tom Menino may have been in the hospital for the past two weeks, but his organization delivered for Warren. Bostonians cast more ballots than they did in 2008.
Howie Carr can (and will) continue getting wildly overpaid for his tired schtick about the Democratic “machine”. But the truth of this election is that if Scott Brown hadn’t acted like Howie Carr, he’d probably have won re-election.
Crossposted at: http://masscommons.wordpress.com/