Monday, November 09, 2009

I Liked Mike:

I was pro-Capuano for Senate before he threw his hat in the ring. Mike's a really good guy and he's always voted the way I wanted my rep to vote--without my even calling him. He's way more progressive than we thought when he first got in and I've really been proud to have him as my Congressman. But he is getting horrible advice from someone on how to run this campaign. Today's response to the Stupak amendment and to Coakley's grandstanding statement that she "would have voted against the bill" once the Stupak Amendment was part of it is a sign of just how bad his ear is.

Open Left reports it this way:

Coakley's main opponent, Representative Mike Capuano, is attacking Coakley over this:

Capuano, giddy over a discernible difference with the presumptive front-runner, called Coakley's comment "manna from heaven."

"I find it interesting and amazing and she would have stood alone among all the pro-choice members of Congress, all the members of the Massachusetts delegation," Capuano said in an interview. "She claims she wants to honor Ted Kennedy's legacy on health care. It's pretty clear that a major portion of this was his bill."

"If she's not going to vote for any bill that's not perfect, she wouldn't vote for any bill in history," Capuano added. "She would have voted against Medicare, the civil rights bill. Every advancement this country has made has been based on bills that had flaws in them ... Realism is something you have to deal with in Washington."

Capuano should have stopped after his first paragraph. Extrapolating from Coakley's statement that she would have voted against Medicare or the Civil Rights Act is ridiculous...

Returning to the Massachusetts Senate race for a moment, Mike Capuano appears tone deaf to this gender divide. 58% of the Massachusetts primary electorate is female, and it is highly unlikely they are going to turn against Martha Coakley for a statement like this. He is way down in the polls, and needs to seize on something in order to become competitive before the December 8th primary. However, this is unlikely to do the trick, especially given the post-Stupak environment among progressive activists. While Capuano argues for "realism," Coakley is tapping into the anger.

That is absolutely right--Coakley is going for the anger vote. Capuano has insisted from the beginning--against my telepathic commands--that he is running a local, populist, each one teach one kind of campaign. Because I want him to win--he's really way better and more progressive than she is (probably) and he has a good track record--I am keeping my fingers crossed. But Capuano's advisors are doing him a huge disservice in insisting that he run this low level, everyman shtick.

First of all Mike looks terrible. He's a little guy who looks like everyone's idea of a corrupt local politician. The more you see him in a suit, the worse. But he has a wonderful, thoughtful, way of speaking. Very calm, open, and honest. They should do nothing but radio spots for him. Or, if they need to do TV advertising, they should always show him in shirt sleeves, sitting down at his desk, late at night. That way the permanent bags under his eyes and his pallor (think reverse of Boehner's fake tan, more like the undead) will telegraph "working overtime for you..."

Mike is a typical, traditional, small town politician and he has those virtues--but he assumes that his voters have those vices. He thinks that what the voters want is someone "they know" who "doesn't forget his friends." Fuck that noise--wish I'd had the nerve to say that directly to him at the little first kick off meeting and pep talk he gave to his supporters (and his mother) at the start of this quickie campaign. I want someone who will do what is right for the entire country--someone who will be a strong and progressive voice on national and international issues. Teddy Kennedy's old seat shouldn't go to some wheeling dealing pol but to a visionary. But that's the campaign he's running: His TV adds have all been about bringing home the bacon for MA financially. Sure, great, whatever.

Coakley has run only one TV ad so far and its a doozy. I can't find a link to it but its basically a kind of Rorschach blot. It focuses on a woman who says she had trouble getting her breast cancer treatments covered by her insurance company. Martha stepped in and got her treatments covered and "shut down the insurance company" and stopped the fraud. It winds up "I don't know what Martha will do in Washington but I know that she will [fight for us/do great things]" something like that. In other words: Coakley is tapping in to the fear and the yearning that women feel (and I'd argue plenty of men, too) to see that seat filled by a fighter. They don't want to know the details--they don't need to know the details--they just want to know that someone out there is going to fight for them.

Mike and Coakley are running for a historic seat--a seat that was held by a towering figure. Mike's campaign insists on reminding us of that fact every few seconds, while demonstrating that Mike himself is too small physically and imaginatively to fill that seat. This attack on Coakley is all of a piece. I'm one of Mike's supporters and I was happy that he voted against Stupak, and happy that he voted for the bill if this was as good as it was going to get. But I was on the verge of calling his office and asking him to sign on to the letter the progressives are circulating demanding Stupak be stripped out in conference. Instead of bitching about Coakley he should have come forward and offered to keep fighting for women's rights to the bitter end. Someone told him he needs to attack Coakley to win. They were wrong. He needs to make a name for himself as a fighter for us. And let us decide who has a better shot at filling that seat.


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