Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What Can Brown Do For You?

Last night’s election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts could be one of the most significant elections in American history. Not only will Brown become the first Republican senator from Massachusetts in 30 years, but his election may signal the fall of the American left. . . before they even have their rise. :-)

So what lessons can we take from last night?

Lesson 1: The Republican Electorate Is Getting It

In three elections now, New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts, independent-minded Republicans (read: conservatives) have pushed aside “safe” establishment candidates in primaries, finding instead candidates with perfect pitch. What’s interesting, is that their perfection comes not from being perfect but from being common.

Like Christy in New Jersey and Bob McDonnell in Virginia, Brown comes across as his own man. He doesn’t sound like he’s part of the machine and he doesn’t sound like he owes anyone anything. He doesn’t get his views from talking points memos or consultants. But he also isn’t taking on the role of faked-outsider like some others. Indeed, like Christy and McDonnell before him, he doesn’t seem to be playing any role at all.

Moreover, Brown can do something that has eluded Republicans for so long now -- he speaks in common sense terms. He doesn’t talk about procedures or minutiae, he doesn’t speak in bombastic tones, and he doesn’t fill his sentence with words he thinks you want to hear. Indeed, unlike so many recent candidates, Brown, Christy and McDonnell actually seem to understand the things they believe and can articulate those without the aid of speech writers or scripted appearances.

The lesson for Republicans is clear: forget the professional politicians who stink of K Street and the fake outsiders and phony mavericks, and start supporting common sense, no-nonsense conservatives. Look for the candidates for whom conservatism is second nature.

These elections also have shown the key to running a resonant campaign. Internal Democratic polls showed that the most effective attacks Brown made were to describe ObamaCare and Cap and Trade as tax hikes. The same was true in New Jersey and Virginia. Deviate from this at your own peril.

The party establishment is catching on too. Last night, GOP Chairman Michael Steele very astutely noted that Brown’s “message of lower taxes, smaller government and fiscal responsibility clearly resonated with independent-minded voters.” Note the focus on independent-minded voters and the unmistakable message of small government conservatism. This bodes well.

Lesson 2: The Republicans May Have Found A Front Runner For 2012

It’s far too early to say that Scott Brown could or should run for President (not coincidentally, his term will end in 2012). Indeed, we don’t know yet how he will act in the Senate. Everything about him could be an illusion at this point. But in a Republican field that remains as lightweight as it was in 2008, Brown has the potential to become an instant front runner because he has something all the other candidates lack: genuine charisma. He also seems to be quite a formidable campaigner and gives off all the indications of being rather intelligent. But it is too early to tell. At this point, let us leave it that he has shown a potential that is lacking in the rest of the contenders.

Lesson 3: Democratic Dirty Tricks No Longer Work

Christy was fat. McDonnell was a crazed religious lunatic. Brown was a right-wing tea bagger who wanted to force hospital emergency rooms to turn away rape victims. None of those attacks worked. Going negative only served to show us the moment the Democrats knew their races were lost.

Blaming Bush didn’t work either, though the Democrats are too insane to change. Rep. Chris van Hollen (D-Md) notes that Democrats plan to blame Bush for their problems despite this not working for Coakley. They will claim:

“President George W. Bush and House Republicans drove our economy into a ditch and tried to run away from the accident. President Obama and congressional Democrats have been focused on repairing the damage to our economy.”

Lesson 4: The Democrats Don’t Understand What They Are Doing Wrong

The most important outcome of this election may be that it will save our health care system. You all know that ObamaCare is a disaster waiting to happen, and you know that the voters intend to punish anyone who supports it -- just ask Sen. Ben Nelson who got booed trying to eat at a restaurant. But the Democratic leadership doesn’t want to hear this.

Rather than recognize the error of their ways, Team Obama tried to shift the blame to Coakley, with an off-the-record smear campaign that hit high gear eight hours before the polls even closed. They accused her of running a campaign that equated to political “malpractice.” Pelosi echoed this and even went further, implying that Coakley hid her failures: “In the House, we don’t have surprises when it comes to elections. We are fully prepared and have been for a long time.” Let’s see about that in November.

Sen. Robert Menendez, head of the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee, claims to have heard the voters: “I have no interest in sugarcoating what happened in Massachusetts. There is a lot of anxiety in the country right now.” But then he completely misidentifies the message sent: “Americans are understandably impatient.” Right, because it’s the lack of speed that’s bothering us, not the fact the Democrats have aimed the ship at an iceberg.

Of all people, leftist television hack Gloria Borger probably put the finest point on the message delivered on Tuesday night: “In 2008, people said they wanted change. Tonight they said this isn’t the change they wanted.”

Yet, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md) didn’t get that message. He seems intent on passing the Senate bill: “the Senate bill is better than nothing.” Not according to voters. Hoyer’s assertion even comes in the face of the realization by several rank-and-file Democrats of the disaster of continuing this course. For example, Rep. Jim Costas (D-Cal.), one of the last Democrats to vote “yes” on PelosiCare now says that he’d like to go a different path: “I’ve maintained for months now that incremental reform in the health care package would make much more sense.” He then notes that he’d like the formerly-perfect Obama to tell voters that “we may have been overreaching” and then pursue a much more limited reform. Fat chance.

Even Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), one of the leading advocates of PelosiCare, now concedes: “I don’t think it would be the worst thing to take a step back.” He warns, “If there isn’t any recognition that we got the message and we are trying to recalibrate and do things differently, we are not only going to risk looking ignorant but arrogant.”

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) extended these concerns to the entire Democratic agenda. Said Bayh: “It’s why moderates and independents even in a state as Democratic as Massachusetts just aren’t buying our message. They just don’t believe the answers we are currently proposing are solving their problems. That’s something that has to be corrected.”

So we have the set up for a bloody civil war. On the one hand are the leaders, who refuse to acknowledge the message. On the other are individual members who suddenly see their own political mortality. We can expect this to result in increasing numbers of Democrats bolting from the collective and triangulating against their own party to save their own political careers. That will doom virtually the entire agenda Obama has put forth.

Lesson 5: Obama Has No Coat-Tails

Finally, speaking of Obama, this election revealed just how far Obama has fallen. Obama is zero for three now in the last three significant elections. What’s more, two of these losses (NJ and Mass) occurred in states where Republicans simply don’t win. That means he no longer has the ability to motivate the electorate. That’s disastrous for Obama’s ability to push his agenda.

What a great day for America!


Tam said...

I feel like echoing Michelle Obama. It is the first time in a long time (roughly a year) that I feel proud to be an American!

Mike K. said...

" a Republican field that remains as lightweight as it was in 2008, Brown has the potential to become an instant front runner because he has something all the other candidates lack: genuine charisma. He also seems to be quite a formidable campaigner and gives off all the indications of being rather intelligent."

In 2012, Brown will be a former state senator with only two years of experience in the US Senate. No one with that paltry amount of experience would ever have the audacity to run for President of the United States, even if he's charismatic and gives off the appearance of being intelligent.

StanH said...

Barry is an ideologue, a hard left America hating student of ‘60s radicalism. I look for him to double down on stupid, in his mind - - feeble though it may be- - now is the moment that they’ve struggled for, forty years. In some things this could be described as character, or noble, in politics, this is suicide. Barry will be twisting in the wind, unless he can moderate, or triangulate ala Clinton/Morris, doubtful. With the election of Scott Brown in MA, anything is possible. These Lords and Ladies in Washington sitting on top of their political fiefdoms throughout America must be worried, no one is safe, what fun.

Writer X said...

The Dems have become like alcoholics who won't admit they have a problem. Personally, I hope they stay delusional.

Brown has that special something you don't see very often in politicians. You feel like you can trust him. And most importantly, he doesn't come across as bigger than his job.

I wish I could clone Scott Brown for Arizona. Interestingly, all of our "moderate" Dems (Gifford, Mitchell, Kirkpatrick) are all running scared and Republican challengers are stepping up in droves.

Game Master Rob Adams said...


LL said...

To me it the signal is profound, but different than what other commenters suggested.

The election of Scott Brown to the "Kennedy Chair" in the US Senate in a state that boasts 3.5 to 1 registered Democratic voters tells me something about the PARTY and its ability to influence voters to follow the Party line at all costs.

The lesson can be transmitted across to the Republicans too (still incipid) who are hoping people will vote Republican even if their candidates are Republican In Name Only (RINO).

Even though the mainstream media doesn't acknowledge it, there is a sweeping grass roots movement in America, currently without a leader, party or budget. It's made up of people who work, pay taxes and don't have a lot of time on their hands to protest. --but it seems they're willing to vote.

They have different interests but it seems that the common thread that runs through the grassroots movement is one of: LESS government interference in the lives of people, MORE responsiveness to the voters by their "representatives" (who don't consider themselves that), and genuine Constitutional values rather than the revisionist crap that current Congress and Administration is trying to pull.

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, Well said! I have to admit that last night felt really, really good and I made me very proud of America!

AndrewPrice said...

Mike, I never like to judge based on one race or one speech, and I'm leery of candidates with little political experience -- look at Obama as an example.

But Brown showed a tremendous amount of potential last night. If he can live up to that over the next two years, then he could very easily become a contender.

Tennessee Jed said...

Lesson 1 - yes the Republican electorate is getting saavy, but we are being helped immeasurably by discontented independents and centrit Democrats. The plain speak issue is real, for sure. I think it helps to explain Palin's appeal

Lesson 2 - The Republicans have long searched for a charismatic candidate. Palin has charisma, but plenty of baggage as well. You are correct that Brown brings excitement, but time will tell.

Lesson 3 - Democrat tricks don't work could be subtitled "Rise of the alternative Media." Without Fox, talk radio and the internet, the right leaning electorate would not be so well informed. Still, I expect Obama to try and back door as much of his agenda as he possibly can. These guys are masters at cheating.

Lesson 4) It is hard to believe they don't actually know. These people are arrogant, but not completely stupid. They know that what they want is not what the people want. They have to be Deceptacons about it. The appliance is on spin cycle right at the moment. They will go hard after the banks as the next villains as well as insurors.

Lesson 5) Obama has no coat tails at the moment, but we are hardly in a position to be cocky. As we have often discussed at Commenterama, the Republican Party can be very adept at shooting itself in the foot.

With all that said, I am feeling the best about things that I have felt in a long time. Good post!

BevfromNYC said...

Add Barney Frank to your list of Democrats that see the handwriting. Frank's at least a good enough politician to see:

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I have no doubt that Obama will push harder -- he's been making that point and his supporters have been demanding it. But the problem this election, for Obama, is not that the voters took away his supermajority, but that they sent a shockwave through every Democrat who is not in a super safe district.

The harder he pushes, the more the Dems will now push back.

BevfromNYC said...

Oh and might I add that Scott Brown looks good nekkid too...;-) He was a '80's Cosmo centerfold! Who knew!

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, Your state should experience a seismic shift from this. It will be interesting to watch.

I agree entirely about Brown. As I watched his acceptance speech, I just kept thinking -- wow, I like this guy. And the thought that kept coming to me was that he does not have a big head -- like so many others. Now I don't know if that's real or if it's a manufactured image, but it feels real. I guess time will tell. It what he showed last night was real, then he will be an incredibly formidable challenger for any race he chooses.

AndrewPrice said...

ACG -- My thoughts exactly! LOL! I was so happy about this that I even had to write this article late, late, late last night.

AndrewPrice said...

LL, I think you're right. The message is clearly smaller government, less interference and STOP doing what you've been doing for the past 9-10 years.

I also agree that the message was meant for both parties, given the number of Democrats who voted for a Republican for the first times in their lives. But the Democrats flat out don't want to hear it -- they ridicule the message and claim any other lesson except the one sent.

But the Republicans are finally hearing it. You see this in the change of rhetoric, in the way they've stuck together, and the way they've begun changing the way they hand out money. And where the leadership has failed, the primary voters have shown them the error of their ways -- next up Rubio.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, All good points.

Lesson 1 - the combination of the utter failure of the Republicans and the anger and fear put into regular people by Obama's power-grabbing, drunken-spending policies has brought a lot of people into the process who don't think like wonks, and that's what's driven this wave. It's a good wave -- these are the very people Democracy was meant for.

Lesson 2 -- I think there is a significant difference between Brown and Palin, aside from the tremendous baggage. Palin rose to prominence on the basis of one speech, after being picked to ride as a second in a campaign. Brown just ran his own campaign in hostile territory (and against both party's establishments). But, like I've said, we need to remain cautious in calling Brown anything more than a flash in the pan until we see more from him. (Nor do I know enough about his views to say that I would support him.)

Lesson 3 - The alternative media has been absolutely critical. Without it, people would only hear about the great health care bill those mean old Republicans are stalling and they wouldn't know anything about it.

But I'd like to emphasize that I think one of the lessons here is that when we run "normal" people for office (not career politicians), the negative attacks just don't work.

Lesson 4 -- I do need to disagree here. I've known enough leftists in my life who genuinely believe that the vast majority of the public thinks like they do and would jump up to support their policies, if only... that's where they fill in all kind of things, Republican dirty tricks, an establishment media, voter fraud, etc. They really just don't understand that the electorate doesn't buy what they are selling. I suspect Pelosi is like that, though I don't know her personally.

Lesson 5 -- Never get cocky.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, That's the most important qualification for office!! LOL!

Despite my dislike for Frank, I must admit that he is a smart and saavy politician who does understand his voters.

Tennessee Jed said...

no doubt you are right about some of the leftist ideologues. I am reminded of the Manhattenite women who couldn't believe Nixon had won and claimed "how could he win, I don't know ANYBODY who voted for him."

As far as Palin, I don't disagree she is much different from Brown. But, I do think her a good bit of her massive popularity stems from her view as a populist who speaks a language that appeals to many and casts her as a political outsider.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That was an incredibly telling quote, and is probably the first crack in the wall exposing that the "elite" are out of touch. In fact, that quote coincides with the moment that journalism began to lose the people.

On Palin, absolutely. Her speech patterns and her populism are the basis for her popularity. And to be a populist, you, by definition, need to define yourself as an outsider, because populism is about "us versus them" -- that's why it can be so dangerous.

Brown uses a much milder form of populism -- one that I would argue is much more acceptable to the middle class, because it's less confrontational.

patti said...

last night, after the results were in, as i heard the talk of pushing the healthcare bill thru, i thought that would be one of the last nails in their already sealed coffin. and then i realized that we HAD shifted, that i WASN'T hoping anymore, i KNEW. BOOM!

oh happy day!

AndrewPrice said...

Agreed Patti, the political landscape has changed dramatically. Let's hope it keeps on changing!

Mike K. said...

Andrew, I was trying to draw the parallel between Brown's experience and Obama's. I'm not so good at subtlety, I guess.

AndrewPrice said...

Mike, I got you.

StanH said...

According to her book, when Palin ran for Governor of Alaska, she ran outside of the system, and built her victory from hard work, person by person, very much like Brown. She took out Frank Murkowski Republican, paddling him and the other candidates in several debates, well worth watching. My point I’m excited about some of the up and comers Palin included. Also if you speak the truth, and from the heart you don’t have to remember what you said, makes you a good debater, and a good candidate.

Unknown said...

Andrew: Well done. I agree that Brown is a phenomenon with charisma x 3. I had despaired of the Republican Party finding anyone who didn't drone us to death during a public appearance. But only time will tell how much substance there is behind the promise. I suspect we'll find that the substance is there in abundance.

That said, I will admit that I had actually never seen Brown in a public appearance before. I got all my info second-hand from the TV and blog commentators. Then I saw the speech. I have not been drawn in to the pride and enthusiasm of a speech that much since I was a sixteen-year old sitting on the dais at the East Los Angeles rally for John Kennedy the day before the 1960 election. Wow!

Mike's ironic comment was well-taken. If Brown rises to the job as Republican candidate, the Democrats will find themselves mercilessly parodied if they try to bring up experience.

Months back, many of our readers and commenters believed that Obama was merely an empty-suit pol from Chicago. I kept hammering that he may be inept, but he is a left wing ideologue trying to socialize America. I still believe that, and it's why I think that the hasty optimism among the Democrat talking-heads and power-brokers that this will be a repeat of 1994 is just plain wrong. Clinton was a liberal, but hardly an ideologue. He was able to get his immense ego out of the way, and tack to the center, cleverly taking credit for the reforms actually instituted by the Republicans in Congress. Obama is morally and psychologically incapable of making such a move. Obama despises America, and will continue on his course of trying to "fundamentally change" the nation to the bitter end.

Brown is one of those moderate-conservatives I can get behind. Though he is "pro-choice," he recognizes that the vast majority of Americans want serious restrictions on abortion, and he is opposed to any kind of government funding for abortion. Let's see if he's willing to compromise with the Democrats on that. I suspect he won't, but it will be a good test of his convictions for the future.

Brown understands bipartisanship and non-partisanship very well. His first "call-out" was to the independents. He thanked the people broadly for his election, not just conservatives or Republicans. He emphasized that he knows whom he works for, and it's not a party. It's his state and his nation. A man who can do that, running as a Republican in a heavily-Democratic/independent state has exceptional qualifications as a national candidate. If his deeds match his words over the next two years, I know who I'll be supporting.

BTW: The person who made the remark about "not knowing anyone who voted for Nixon" is attributed to my old Berkeley friendly enemy Pauline Kael, later a New York-based movie critic.

Totally irrelevant but funny note: When Fox News Channel was showing the history of the two Massachusetts candidates just before the polls closed, they had the Cosmo picture of the nude Brown, unedited (though close to the bottom of the screen). In all future showings, the, um, package was tastefully covered by the ubiquitous opaque circle. I suspect he picked up the votes of many San Franciscans who saw the first telecast, in a very bipartisan way, of course. LOL

BevfromNYC said...

LawHawk, he also paid Ted Kennedy a huge compliment and acknowledged the service he did for the state and country. Very classy. Though Brown did try to pimp out his daughters! I have a feeling that that was an inside joke in their family because his daughters didn't seem too upset, just shocked in a good-natured kind of way.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, So you don't have much to add huh? You're feeling kind of indifferent on that? ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I thought that was hilarious. It struck me as a very "parent" thing to do -- having seen many a parent mention that their own kids are single. . .

Stan, She definitely generates excitement.

Unknown said...

Andrew: Sorry, I'd been saving that up all night during my dreams of the future.

Bev: That was hilarious. It sounded just like the kind of thing I'd do to rib my daughters (and I'd have to find a way to torment my son, too). It was obviously all good-natured family fun, and I'd love to know the inside family joke that prompted it. I suspect he's spent much of his life hearing the "oh, Dad, stop it" that I heard, complete with giggles and eyeball-rolling.

CrispyRice said...

We're thrilled over here, too! Mwahahahahahaaaaaaaa!!

Rudy Guiliani was on Hannity yesterday and H was trying to get G to run, but G isn't interested right now. H said that we need strong, well-known candidates. G pointed out - had you ever heard of Scott Brown 8 weeks ago?

It gives me lots and lots of hope for the future of the party. I think we probably do have lots of "no-names" hiding in the wings who will come out.

AndrewPrice said...

CrispyRice, You're right -- you never know how good a candidate will be until they get into the fray, and, at some point, everyone comes from nowhere.

CrisD said...

I can't believe I moved to this insane state and just like *that* they recognize the horror of Martha vs. the vavavooooom of Scott Brown! hahaha!
What a great victory for the American way! May Brown follow through with his promise to serve the people!

AndrewPrice said...

CrisD, I was thinking of you the other day -- during the election!

You should take credit for their moment of sanity!

BevfromNYC said...

Okay, Bahney Fwank took a U-turn. Where on Tuesday night, he issued a statement that the healthcare bill should rethought, now, well, not so much.

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