Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Please, Martha. Do something!

Unfortunately, nothing has happened in the last 48 hours to convince me that Martha Coakley is going to come out of her cocoon and actually run for the Senate seat she allegedly wants to win.

Monday, I wrote that I hoped Coakley was going to use yesterday’s radio debate as a springboard for a two-week blitz on the open Senate seat. My fear was that by staying silent for two weeks, Coakley had allowed Scott Brown to remain competitive in a race that didn’t need to be close.

Well, two days later I think I was wrong about the first point and right about the second.

I only heard part of the debate, but what I heard frustrated me. Most frustrating of all was Brown’s answer to the question of how to deal with the failed bombing of a U.S.-bound airplane on Christmas day. Brown said this:
“It's time we stopped acting like lawyers and start acting like Patriots,” Mr. Brown said.

“If there is a time bomb situation and they know of a person who in fact has information, it should be up to the president to determine what tools he wants to use to gather information,” Mr. Brown said, including waterboarding. “I believe it's not torture.”
Coakley’s response?
“I don't agree with John McCain on much, but I respect him. He was a war hero and he was tortured and he says he thinks it is. So this is one area where Scott Brown can pick and choose what he believes, but this is an area that he is really more like Bush-Cheney than he is like John F. Kennedy,” she said.

No, no, no, no, no! The issue is not about waterboading or Bush-Cheney or any of that. Scott Brown just said that there are times when we should set aside the law in the name of patriotism. He implied that there are times when American ideals and the promise of liberty should be set aside in the interest of security.

Scott Brown said our system of government—our way of life—is not strong enough to withstand the threat of a guy with nitro in his underpants and that we should be willing to set aside our ideals to, interrogate in an enhanced manner...him and you cannot muster up enough life to defend the way we have operated for 230 years?

You are the Attorney General, the highest law enforcement officer in the state. He is basically saying that you, and Eric Holder, and Barack Obama, and people like me who believe that American laws and ideals and liberties are stronger than any terrorist threat are weak. And your response is that he’s more like George Bush than John Kennedy?

Martha, please, for the sake of those of us who are supporting you and want you to win...stand up for us! Do...something!

Admittedly, I didn’t get a chance to hear the whole debate Tuesday. The venue should have been a slam dunk for Coakley. Moderators Jim Braude and Marjorie Egan are both Coakley supporters. Braude is an unabashed liberal and Egan has made no secret of her hope that a woman becomes the next senator.

Yet for the 30 minutes or so I listened, Brown was the aggressor. On taxes, on terrorism, you name it. Whether you liked his answers or not, he at least had some; Coakley was too equivocal. When Bruade, probably the most liberal commentator in the Boston market, is continually pressing Coakley to actually answer a question, then it’s not going well.

Brown reiterated the contention he makes in his TV ad that he is like John F. Kennedy in that both he and Kennedy believed in tax cuts (for what it’s worth, it’s a very good ad, even though it is misleading as hell). Coakley milquetoasted a response about how the top tax bracket at the time was 91% so it’s different, and the president Brown really should be compared to is George W. Bush...zzzzzz.

What she should have said is: “I too agree with JFK that a 91% tax bracket is too high and would have supported that tax cut. I also agree with Presidents Kennedy and Clinton that the top 1% of earners should pay their fair share, which is why I support rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Scott, do you think asking billionaires to pay 39% instead of 35% is too much of a burden on them?”

Maybe I’m just being too much of a worry-wart. Maybe Coakley figures that yesterday’s debate doesn’t mean two cents in the grand scheme since WTKK’s listeners are probably overwhelmingly Scott Brown voters anyway. Maybe she’s waiting for next Monday’s debate (the only one to be broadcast live in Eastern and Central Mass.) to get moving.

But the whole thing just doesn’t feel right.
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