Brown is the new purple
posted: January 20, 2010

This is what I love about politics. The election of Scott Brown to the US Senate last night was an upset for the ages. It’s right up there with the Red Sox’ victory over the Yankees in the ALCS in ’04,  Spinks beating Ali, and the US Olympic hockey team beating Russia in 1980. As pure political theater, it was as entertaining as anything I remember. Martha Coakley, the democratic candidate was pretty much considered the incumbent and the election itself was more ceremonial than anything. The republican candidate (just those words in Massachusetts brings a smug grin from most people around here) was treated the way an eight year old would be for attempting a magic trick at a family party – “That’s cute kid, very nice, now run along”.


As the campaign rolled along, we saw less and less of Coakley, which was okay because what we did see was a tight lipped, overly cautious, entitled politician who seemed to think that mixing it up with the electorate was a task that was beneath her. You almost expected to see her wearing latex gloves while out shaking hands with the people, and the way she showed her teeth was more grimace than smile. It takes a very special kind of politician to lose a 30 point lead to a republican in Massachusetts. Coakley seemed to be a great AG, but she belongs in politics about as much as I do. Talk about a charisma vacuum. It’s as though someone took Mike Dukakis, rolled him in with John Kerry, and then drained what little charm remained, if any.


On the other side you had Brown, driving from town to town in his battered pickup truck with 200,000 miles on it. He seemed to genuinely enjoy getting out and asking people for their vote. He’s as off the cuff and thrown together as Mitt Romney is shined and polished. While Brown was on television every day with his ads showing him in the family kitchen talking to you like a neighbor, Coakley was nowhere to be seen, only responding eventually with a barrage of negative ads.


As far as why Brown won, as always in politics, it’s as complicated as trying to design a flow chart on why someone falls in love. Lame lazy de facto incumbent meets eager, good looking refreshing challenger. A bad economy where the working people (those who are left) are asked to pay for someone else’s –war, bailout, healthcare, etc. We love an underdog in this country. But bottom line is that the country found out what we in Massachusetts have known for a long time. It’s the independents who rule this state. We elected Bill Weld and Mitt Romney not as republicans, but as a repudiation to an entrenched one party system. Same with Brown. We’re not a blue state, we’re not a red state, we’re a purple state.


After Brown’s rambling victory speech in which he seemed star struck at the idea of talking to the president, being onstage with Doug Flutie, and mentioning more than once that his daughter is available, I’ll bet that first twinge of buyer’s remorse may have flickered across many minds. There’s a big difference between politics and governance.


Kyle T Webster January 20, 2010
"There’s a big difference between politics and governance." You said it, Dale.
Harry January 20, 2010
Thanks for the synopsis and local's point of view, I hardly heard anything. Great sketch, looks like pencil, do you ever sketch on the computer? maybe this is, I don't know.
Zina January 20, 2010
Thanks for sharing your perspective, Dale. Very nice picture, too.
Leo Espinosa January 20, 2010
I have a political hangover.
Dale Stephanos January 20, 2010
Leo- me too. Thanks Zina Harry, this is digital - Sketchbook Pro. It's a nice little program. I've been using it for sketches for a while now. I like pencil more, but since I upgraded to the latest Mac OS my scanner is useless and I'm too cheap to buy a new one.
Zina January 20, 2010
Wow, it's digital? Really great, so loose and fresh!
Victor Juhasz January 20, 2010
Good commentary, Dale. Great drawing- you've done a lot here with a white bread mug.
Rob Dunlavey January 20, 2010
Good synopsis Dale. I agree with most of it. I know you visited Kennedy once and maybe have a different view of things than I do… I feel that all that Kennedy lionizing that happened in the past year was really just an attempt to bolster the Massachusetts and Democratic brand. Heartfelt and warranted but ultimately a cynical and doomed effort at branding. The people have spoken. It'll be fascinating to analyze Scott Brown's tenure in two years.
Steve B January 20, 2010
A friend of mine called last night all giddy about how this is good for politics and good for me. I guess some people just like a good show. Well I said, see you in the ER. Nice sketch Dale.
Tim OBrien January 20, 2010
He sounded like a goof on stage I must say. He delivered a killer line about tax dollars to kill terrorists not to defend them (stupid line,, actually) and the crowd roared. He then got impressed with himself and where he was. Still, I never understood the 'vote for the person you can have a beer with' idea. That's not a smart way to run a country. So, he has a gas guzzling pick up truck? Great. Drill baby, drill. >roll-eyes<
Howard Wright January 20, 2010
Great sketch! The older I get the more I'm amazed at people who wave their political flag like they're part of the one, true ideal. As more of an independent, I guess it's not unlike picking a religion or a sports team. Still, this election simple seems like the sports analogy of the backup quarterback. When times are rough, he's got to be better than the starting QB. Hey, he LOOKS like a QB... he's got a good jaw and looks great in a uniform... he wasn't a high draft pick or made much of a name for himself, but he's easy in front of the cameras and must be better than the current loser. (Hey, I'm a Detroit Lions fan so I use this analogy often!) Back to my initial point... both parties have such a poor recent track record with keeping promises and delivering results that I have to wonder about those that pick a side and proclaim absolute allegiance. It can be quite maddening though to hear the rhetoric continue to spew from both sides. Guess it's nothing new though. I agree with you Dale that we often find the oddest and weakest aspects of a candidate to cling to. It's human nature I guess. Another reason for me to avoid talk radio and too much political news as we get closer to the crescendo of 2012...
Mark Penta January 20, 2010
Hey Dale - that's a great drawing and really smart, entertaining read. Nice!
John Dykes January 20, 2010
Dale - Nice drawing and commentary... It was telling when Coakley was asked if her campaign could be more energetic. She responded, 'Should I stand out in the cold outside Fenway shaking hands or sometning?'... uh... that might be a start.
Victor Juhasz January 20, 2010
Coming up: A Maxim-style spread on Sarah Palin running in either SOLDIER OF FORTUNE or GUNS AND AMMO. Let that marinate in the 'consciousness' of the masses as she blathers to the ditto heads as a FOX commentator/pundit and she'll be ready to run for President by 2012.
Christoph Hitz January 20, 2010
I've got my first life impression of Martha Coakley while watching her concession speech, she looked very happy that she doesn't have to go to Washington. Your report seams to confirm my observation. Nice pencil sketch.
nwright January 25, 2010
I'm happy about this Dale. Love your digital sketch here too. Victor- it amuses me you need to retract back to Palin , almost like Obama does to Bush.... What does Palin have to do with the "here and now" anyway??? Why not address the issues that caused Coakley to lose rather than spew nonsense about Palin, who cares about Palin?? I know I don't ( although a Maxim spread would be nice). and neither did anyone else that voted President Obama into office.