As for "Washington," yes. Obama is seen by many independents here as an eloquent speech maker who fails to deliver on policies he loftily tosses out. Insofar as the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate are all ruled by the left, and Brown is a conservative, last Tuesday's result was about Washington.
But Brown's success was also a Massachusetts phenomenon. I have lived in Cambridge-Boston for forty-five-years and nearly all that time it has been a citadel of unexamined leftism. Take a couple of key institutions.
At Harvard University, a liberal is “middle of the road” and a conservative is “extremist.” It's said when a conservative comes to the Harvard faculty, another conservative must leave (if one can be found) to make room. As James Piereson once wrote in these pages, the left university since the mid-1960s replaced the liberal university.
The Boston Globe, like the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature of Massachusetts, faced with the illness of Senator Kennedy, treated his seat as one for the Kennedy clan or the Democratic Party to fill.
The Globe editorialized in favor of an appalling maneuver to give the governor power to appoint a new senator immediately upon Kennedy’s death: “Massachusetts would remain at full strength in the Senate,” it purred, “the prospect for health care reform would remain alive, and the voters would have their final say on a new senator within a few months." It conceded piously that the law-makers might “look hypocritical to hand the power of appointment back to a Democratic governor a few years after stripping it from a Republican." Indeed.
Just over five years ago the same Democratic legislature cancelled the governor's longstanding power to appoint a U.S. senator to fill a vacancy. In 2004, John Kerry was the Democratic presidential nominee and his party knew if Kerry won, state law allowed the governor — Republican Mitt Romney — to appoint Kerry's successor, no doubt a Republican. Hence the bill, which Romney tried but failed to kill by veto.
Both moves were identical in advancing the Democratic Party's interests. In all other respects the 2009 bill was a total reversal of the 2004 one.
But the Boston Globe concluded soothingly: "The image of the state Legislature, however, is a minor point compared with the prospect of Massachusetts at 50 percent strength in the Senate... If anything, this is an opportunity for lawmakers to redeem themselves by putting the interests of representative government and health care reform, a hallmark of Massachusetts, above Beacon Hill politics.”
Even the New York Times could not embrace such hypocrisy and editorialized against an appointment and for a prompt special election.