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The Forever Campaign

What the hell happened?

There was a huge shift in the American psyche at some point in the last few years, and for the life of me I can't figure out just when it happened.

People have been decrying President Obama's "perpetual campaign" mode, noting that he's never really stopped running for president. Oh, sure, between November 2008 and January 2009, he took a bit of a vacation, but it seems like he's spent years running for president. And it's rare that he stops campaigning for the job and starts acting like he actually is the president.

But as easy and tempting as it is to blame him (lord knows I have done so plenty), he's only a symptom of a larger affliction.

We have, as a nation, become utterly obsessed with politics. And I'm not only infected, but -- as a blogger -- a carrier.

Let's just look at the past few months. The entire nation descended en masse to put a single United States House of Representatives seat under a microscope, with all the nation suddenly knowing almost every single detail about a single district in upstate New York.

And tomorrow, the people of Massachusetts will cast their ballots on who will fill the "people's seat" in the Senate vacated by Ted Kennedy (who will achieve five months of sobriety next Monday). The entire nation, it seems, has very firm opinions on whose buttocks ought to be ensconced on that rum-soaked, rump-sprung chair.

Tomorrow, a couple of million people (at most) will make that decision. But the number of people who have invested something in that race will dwarf the number of votes cast by at least one order of magnitude.

You want proof? Last week, the Republican candidate raised an average of a million dollars a day, with the average donation being around $78.00. Seven million divided by 78 equals 89,743 individual donations. You wanna argue that the majority of them came from within Massachusetts?

Me, neither.

Now, I'm willing to give myself an excuse. I live in New Hampshire, and -- for better or worse (usually worse) -- we're intertwined with Massachusetts. Hell, our biggest city's airport renamed itself from "Manchester Airport" to "Manchester Boston Regional Airport." The city of Boston has more television stations than our entire state. The Department of Transportation considers New Hampshire part of "Greater Massachusetts" when it comes to highway funds. And the unofficial state sport is "bitching about the Massholes."

So when it comes to politics, it's no wonder that we Granite Staters find ourselves more than a wee bit interested in what goes on south of the border. With Massachusetts-based broadcasts dominating our TV and radio, and the constant exodus of Bay Staters seeking sanctuary, it's only common sense -- if we know when the state's going to take another huge lurch towards the brink, we can plan for the next wave of refugees.

Who, more often than not, immediately start working towards changing things to be just like the Commonwealth they just fled.

But I know it's an excuse. All I can say is that I really have no life. I have nothing better to do with my time. And it's fun.

But back to that Senate race. Everyone knows about it, everyone has an opinion on it, everyone is invested in it. But how much do they really know?

Ask them (or ask yourself) what they really know about the candidates. Ask them about the background and positions of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) and Massachusetts State Senator Scott Brown (R).

Coakley is a career prosecutor and reliable member of the Democratic machine. She's used her office to prosecute (or not prosecute) cases that are in line with her party's interests. She's fought like hell to keep innocent people in jail and keep the guilty free. She's turned a blind eye to grotesque cases of political corruption and malfeasance when the accused had the right letter after his or her name. And she's denounced Big Insurance and Big Pharma both before and after attending a big DC fundraiser they threw for her.

Brown is a moderate to liberal Republican with remarkable personal charisma and a squeaky-clean record (the Cosmo centerfold being pretty much the sole exception). He's a career military officer, a Colonel in the Massachusetts National Guard. He's pro-life, but not one of the crazies. (When a law requiring hospitals to provide the "morning after" pill to rape victims, Brown sponsored a "conscience amendment" allowing individuals opposed to abortion to refuse to provide it personally. His amendment lost, and he voted for the bill anyway -- his amendment wasn't a "deal-killer.") He voted for Massachusetts' universal health care plan that's running the state into the ground, which could mean he has a pretty good idea of what doesn't work.

But that's all getting lost in the shuffle, as what the two symbolize takes center stage. The fact that neither really makes a very good "poster child" for their national parties doesn't really count. Indeed, a case can be made that both represent what the other side likes pointing out about their opposition: Coakley has lived her life according to the "go along to get along" principle, and Brown isn't really that different from Mitt Romney and other Republicans who get saddled with the "RINO" (Republicans In Name Only) label.

Tomorrow night, it'll all be over (at least, I hope), and the entire nation will have to find some new political contest to invest all our hopes and dreams and passions into.

Or, if we're lucky, something besides politics to obsess over. Something decidedly non-political. Sports, perhaps. Or tulip bulbs.

I won't. I already know that. I'm hopeless.


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Comments (23)

Jay, Brown will win. The De... (Below threshold)
JC Hammer:

Jay, Brown will win. The Demo's aren't smart enough to hack into the Dibolt vote counting machines.

with all the nation sudd... (Below threshold)

with all the nation suddenly knowing almost every single detail about a single district in upstate New York.

There really should be an asterisk on this...they thought they knew all about it...most of what they thought they knew was wrong or outdated.

(minor quibble)

<a href="http://www.youtube... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Obama Heckled in Mass. Must see. The man is a blithering idiot.

"Perpetual campaign mode" r... (Below threshold)
Edward Sisson Author Profile Page:

"Perpetual campaign mode" really started with Clinton in 1993. I suggest that it is an idea born of the defeat of Carter by Reagan in 1980. The press and the liberal wing had been pretty openly critical of Carter, but could not believe that the country would elect a former actor in his place. Not only did the country do so (Reagan), it re-elected him, and then elected his vice-president (Bush 41), giving the country 12 years of Republican presidential leadership. With Clinton, they vowed never to let that happen again. Much of the press bias we have seen since 1992 derives from this.

Added to this is the powerful (and in my opinion wrong) perception by the left that Bush 43 was an illegitimate president due to the resolution of the election of 2000. In their opinion, the illegitimacy of the 2000 election also rendered the 2004 election illegitimate.

Conservatives who wish to understand the left (rather than just denounce it) need to recognize that this feeling of illegitimacy exists and that it has produced some fundamental changes in attitude inside the left about the integrity of America's political processes. The feeling that both these elections were illegitimate leads the left to the attitude that "perpetual campaign mode" is necessary and righteous.

As a lawyer, it is my judgement that the 2000 election of Bush 43 was legitimate. But its legitimacy depends on understanding some complex constitutional arguments, which very few people are going to take the time to understand. Opposed to those arguments is the plain fact that Gore received, nationally, more votes than Bush. It is understandable, therefor, that many millions of Americans would feel robbed by the 2000 election, and would also feel that this rendered the 2004 election unfair as well.

The elections of 2006 and 2008, giving the left the Presidency, a 60-vote bloc in the Senate, and a House majority, have "re-set" the "fairness button" of our electoral system in the eyes of the left. In their eyes, the only residue left in the system by what they see as the illegitimacy of the 2000s is the presence of Roberts and Alito on the Supreme Court. My impression is that the left finds this not to be a very significant irritant, largely because neither man has turned out to be an ideological rightist.

Please append at the top a:... (Below threshold)
epador:

Please append at the top a:

NSWDHB

if you are going to include statements like:

(who will achieve five months of sobriety next Monday)

My IT department will thank you.

I agree with all the above.... (Below threshold)
recovered liberal democrat:

I agree with all the above. The Middle right and the right of this country learned what happens, if they didn't know, is how the Congress works. The majority, even by one vote, controls all the committees chairmanships and which legislation gets a vote or even a debate. Hence an ultra liberal "San Fran Nan" from a small district in California as Speaker of the House has tremendous power to control the agenda. Dingy Harry controls the Senate and it's agenda and he is from a sparsely populated state. Instead of throwing out the Republicans, even the RINOS, and giving the liberals control of the Congress, we should have been more aggressive in demanding the Republican leadership act more like conservatives than liberals. They are listening and watching now. The liberals are and have been at war with America and Conservatism. We need to act like we are at war with those that want the country to go sharply left into socialism against our will.

My my...fascist stevie stur... (Below threshold)
Michael:

My my...fascist stevie sturm and rascist stevie green are awfully quiet.

My my...fascist stevie s... (Below threshold)

My my...fascist stevie sturm and rascist stevie green are awfully quiet.

Well, with their mouths full of Tea Party scrota it is hard to talk.

If Brown is elected,I'm cal... (Below threshold)
firefirefire:

If Brown is elected,I'm calling for a four year moratorium on the term "Masshole!"
(unless you're behind the wheel and get cut off by one on I 95,93 or 91 and local routes)

I'm hoping for a Brown win,... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

I'm hoping for a Brown win, just so I can watch Barry be a lame-duck socialist president for the next 3 years. The Dems will blame Coakley (or Bush), and get their asses handed to them in November....and still blame the candidates (and Bush). They can't accept they had a majority and a great deal of goodwill AND NANCY AND HARRY BLEW IT! Obama is just as culpable. As the defacto leader of his party he could have insisted on 'bipartisan' approaches. But that was all bullshit and campaign lies to begin with. Nope, none of this is their fault in their eyes. The fault always lies with others.

Even if Brown wins (and I t... (Below threshold)
retired military:

Even if Brown wins (and I think he will) the health care bill in some form will pass.

As far as America becoming obsessed with politics, that is a good thing. The dems have shown over the past year exactly who they are and middle America is rejecting them soundly.

What I think is Obama likes... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

What I think is Obama likes campaigning, debating, being clever and the media attention doesn't hurt. What he has no experience in is legislation or executive areas. ww

The key is mass communicati... (Below threshold)
davidt:

The key is mass communication via the internet, minus the msm filters.

The Harriet Miers and immigration reform rebellions are when the people discovered they don't have to just bend over and take it from the politicians.

Even if Brown wins, and I'm... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

Even if Brown wins, and I'm hoping he will, there are still three ways the Dems can force through the health care bill:

1. Sit on Brown's election certification until they can force a fast 60 vote win, as long as not even one Dem doesn't bail to save his reelection. They will buy off anybody who threatens to vote against the bill, like they did with Landrieu, Nelson and the unions. Destiny is calling.

2. Force passage by using reconciliation and 51 votes.

3. Having the House pass the Senate version of the bill as is.

The Dems still think that America will eventually LIKE this turd of a bill once they jam it through. After all, who doesn't like the idea of "free health care"?

They still don't understand the price they will have to pay if they do. For that matter, they don't understand the price they will have to pay even if it doesn't pass. Either way, the voters are coming after them. And I'm one of them.

Edward, I tend to agree wit... (Below threshold)
Jamie:

Edward, I tend to agree with your post; the Democrat party took a huge hit when Carter was defeated, and have adopted policies to help make sure that sort of embarassment doesn't repeat itself.

I do take issue with the following paragraph, though:

As a lawyer, it is my judgement that the 2000 election of Bush 43 was legitimate. But its legitimacy depends on understanding some complex constitutional arguments, which very few people are going to take the time to understand. Opposed to those arguments is the plain fact that Gore received, nationally, more votes than Bush. It is understandable, therefor, that many millions of Americans would feel robbed by the 2000 election, and would also feel that this rendered the 2004 election unfair as well.

There's not any "complex constitutional argument" necessary to understand the outcome of the 2000 election, just a very basic understanding that according to the U. S. Constitution, the president is not elected by popular vote. That's something that should be covered adequately in grade-school level civics and government classes, not something an attorney is needed to interpret.

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, one benefit of not teaching such a fundamental tenet of government is that an ignorant populace is much more easily led.

The fact remains that a great portion of the American public has been trained (through the same schools that failed to teach them such fundamental things as the aforementioned understanding of the electoral college) to look for a "loophole" to justify bending or breaking the rules to achieve their desired outcome. Had the 2000 election been inverted, with GWB winning the popular vote but not the electoral vote, there wouldn't have been nearly the outcry of illegitimacy, admittedly partially due to the fact that Bush would have conceded gracefully, but also because conservatives haven't been trained in the "by any means necessary" methods of politics, even when those means undermine the core principles of our Constitution.

Again, an insightful and (mostly) spot-on comment, though. Conservatives don't have to become moderate or liberal to win, but they do have to, at some level, wrap their brains around the way that those on the left see the world.

Jay, the obsession comes fr... (Below threshold)
Bill Johnson:

Jay, the obsession comes from the situation we are currenty experiencing. a comment on a similar situation went:

The prospect of hanging tends to concentrate the mind.

Football can't kill me. Hollywood can't kill me. Politicians can, and worse besides, leave me alive as their bond slave.

"Jay, Brown will win. Th... (Below threshold)
914:

"Jay, Brown will win. The Demo's aren't smart enough to hack into the Dibolt vote counting machines."


Not necessary. They've brought in the Franken model's that need not be hacked. Just punch in a fictitious voter and out pop's the ballot all legal with no chads and above reproach.

Jeff Blogworthy- "The man is a blithering idiot"

I....er...ah .bu....a....uh.....Thats's all folk's!

Barry would be great at the end of Warner Bros. Cartoon's..


"Opposed to those arguments... (Below threshold)
davidt:

"Opposed to those arguments is the plain fact that Gore received, nationally, more votes than Bush."

This has been bugging me since 2000.

It is absolutely impossible to achieve a perfectly accurate count of about a hundred million votes across the whole country. According to the official numbers Gore 'won' the popular vote by less than one half of one percent, well within any margin of error.

The 2000 popular vote was a tie.

They still don't u... (Below threshold)
Eric:
They still don't understand the price they will have to pay if they do.

I disagree. I think it is a mistake to assume that all Democrats across the entire country think exactly the same. For a lot of them, if a Republican can win in the Bluest of Blue states, then there are no safe districts and they are vulnerable.

A lot of Democrats will want to get away from Obamacare as fast as possible and not get tarred any more with the issue. I predict that if Brown wins then Obamacare collapses quickly, and won't even come up for a vote.

The left will walk away from the table claiming that they were looking out for the people but it didn't go far enough. The right will walk away from the table claiming that they were looking out for the people because it went too far.

Remember, it barely passed in the House by a couple of votes. There is no more margin of error. All it would take is a few more Democrats to jump ship in the House and Obamacare is sunk.

The Democrats don't want to lose face with a lost vote when they have such a large majority.

With a Brown victory, I also predict that Nancy Pelosi will get ousted as Speaker of the House before the summer. Again the political calculus will be that if a Democrat can lose in Massachusetts they can lose anywhere. The party will need to pivot to the center, and they can't do that with Pelosi in charge. They need a substantive and figurative change in leadership.

"Ask them (or ask yourself)... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"Ask them (or ask yourself) what they really know about the candidates. Ask them about the background and positions of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) and Massachusetts State Senator Scott Brown (R)...
..Brown is a moderate to liberal Republican ..."

Even if Brown pulls an upset and wins, I think some Repubs may be disappointed in his votes. Still, he's better than Coakley.

Dems, and especially Obama ... (Below threshold)
Hank:

Dems, and especially Obama perpetually campaign because they generally do not know how to lead. If they did, they wouldn't rely on the courts so much to advance their agenda.

Re: "Conservatives who wish to understand the left.." I try. Lord how I try but it's hard to talk with people who rely on emotion, feelings and are consumed with hatred. Now I don't mean to sound like one of our trolls, but the hardcore libs I became friends with, before they cut me out of their lives cause I voted for Bush, were generally pretty nasty and had little patience for those with differing views.

Les, I see what you mean, but I tend to think that most, if not all Repubs in MA will be thrilled to see someone other than a dem in the Senate. Brown may be a liberal Repub but in Ma. that's still a breath of fresh air.

Side note...when I vote tomorrow night, I'm hoping to see some Coakley supporters and I intend to ask them exactly what she stands for before going in to vote. Aside from National Health care, I think the question may stump them.

If Brown wins tomorrow, Nan... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

If Brown wins tomorrow, Nancy will lose a lot of votes. She can scream all she wants, but I don't see any of her allies willing to fall on their political sword for Barry Obama.

IF A REPUBLICAN CAN TAKE TED KENNEDY'S SEAT, NO SEAT IS SAFE!

If Brown wins, Barry becomes a 3 year lame-duck and the rest of the Democratic rat-bastards will be distancing themselves from his programs before the November election.

The country is finally waki... (Below threshold)
olsoljer:

The country is finally waking up to the fact that a few select are running this country. Christians see that 3% of this nation are athiest, but telling 97% not to celebrate Christmas or flaunt their religion, while bending over backwards to put footbaths in airports for muslims. The middle class is being taxed out of existence. Our jobs are going overseas so fast that noise you hear is a suction vortex. Criminals are protected, especially blue collar crimes, innocent people are being evicted from farms, ranches and homes. Our tax dollars are being spent to entertain our elected officials and foreign interests while we have families on the streets with no food, clothing etc. The health care could have been taken care of a long time ago, if Congress would quit pork barrelling and put a stop to waste, fraud and abuse that the ordinary citizen sees every day and elected officials are either participating in or ignoring.
IN SHORT - THE SLEEPING DRAGON AWAKES

TAKE BACK AMERICA ONE ELECTION AT A TIME




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