I would have posted earlier on the special senate election in the state of Massachusetts, but decided to let the dust settle first. The seat up for grabs had been held for 48 years by one Edward Moore Kennedy: this is a state usually regarded as a Democrat stronghold. So the victory by Republican Scott Brown, as Jon Stewart pointed out, “a naked man who drives a truck”, has been more than an unwanted distraction to the Obama administration.
Various factors have influenced the result: Democrat candidate Martha Coakley made a string of gaffes, held less meetings than Brown (19 to 66), and just didn’t show the drive and enthusiasm of her opponent. Worse, she represented the party in power at a moment when the USA is suffering a severe economic downturn, and Brown somehow got independent voters – who make up the largest group in the state – to see him as a “Liberal Republican”. Some chance – when Mr Brown goes to Washington, he’ll do as he’s damn well told.
And in the background are the array of shock jocks, headed by the repellent Rush Limbaugh, who dragged up Teddy Kennedy’s past to mock the Democrats. Allied with them is our old friend, Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), whose “stars” had been shouting for Brown all along. All will now, in the manner of the Murdoch Sun in 1992, claim influence.
But once their man had been elected, the froth mob were not so kind: Scott Brown made a supremely inadvisable remark during his acceptance speech about his two daughters “being available”, and this has freaked Fox News “star” Glenn Beck into tirades on both radio and TV. The message is as clear as it is unsubtle: we put you up there, and if you don’t behave as we expect, we’ll take you down again.