I Love The Smell Of Schadenfreude In The Morning (Massachusetts Edition)

I’m still grinning ear to ear.

My voice is hoarse from all last night’s howling at the moon with 1000+ of my suddenly dearest friends (MA Democrats do know how to party….).  All day I’ve failed to recover (old man!) from the resulting 3:30 a.m. bedtime, followed by that all-to-familiar 6:45 alarm that begins the process of getting Blessed Increase off to school.

But by damn, I’m still smiling huge.

What’s more, sometime last night — after the fourth scotch I think, or maybe the first bourbon I had to follow those wee drams — it came to me:  years of GOP obstruction had one limpidly clear consequence.

A while back, the Senate had a choice:  entertain the nomination of a grandmotherly law professor to serve as the first head of a novel Consumer Finance Protection Bureau — or to send Elizabeth Warren packing as part of a larger campaign to prevent that new body ever taking action.

We all know what happened:  the Senate’s Republicans told President Obama they would never confirm Warren (or anyone) for the job.  The recess appointment that followed provoked controversy enough, and whether by her choice or Obama’s, the administration decided not to toss gasoline on the flames by placing Warren at the head of the agency she had (with others) built.

Instead, she was told to pack up her marbles and go home, with the GOP celebrating her return to the safely (they thought) isolated groves of academe.   As it happens, Warren made her way back to the  Massachusetts just as our accidental senator, Scott Brown, was showing all the signs of being a lock to extend the wild ride he’d begun by defeating the single worst political candidate for whom it’s been my misfortune to volunteer.*

Sure, there were other Democrats already aiming at Brown, at least a some of them good people who, I’m sure, would make solid legislators.  But to be blunt:  they were second and third tier candidates.  Brown had a ton of money, and — as the actual race that followed demonstrated — no worries at all about being able to attract much, much more.  He had the image stuff down:  he was a good guy with the truck who managed to seem as independent of his party as every Massachusetts Republican needs to be.  He was nice looking (if you go for that sort of look), well known and mostly liked state-wide, with a campaign organization already in place that non of the Democrats in the race could begin to match.

Yes, this is a Democratic state, and yes, it was a Presidential year — but no one with a finger in the wind thought that Brown was seriously at risk.  The tell:  not one of the ten Democrats from Massachusetts serving in the House  chose to risk their safe seats for a run at the upper chamber.

Enter Elizabeth Warren.  She arrived preceded by at least some fame.  She proved able to draw money as no other MA Democrat this year could have.  And she turned out to be a genuinely talented campaigner.  She wasn’t perfect — but as a rookie from out of town in a state that has historically been deeply unfriendly to women chasing the top jobs, she started out good, learned fast, and became truly impressive by the end of the race.  She hit all the notes, playing beautifully to the better angels of our natures, while, as her  scorched earth counterattack on Brown’s unbelievably feckless asbestos attacks demonstrated — she managed to  master all the necessary lessons of the gut-punch school of Massachusetts politics.

And yesterday, she won.  Decisively.  The invincible Senator Brown ended the night as roadkill squashed by a juggernaut no mere pickup could dodge.

Counterfactuals are never certain — but I can’t come up with a scenario that has Brown falling to anyone in the original list of Democrats seeking to oppose him.

I can’t see Elizabeth Warren running if she were in her first year or so shepherding a new agency she’d worked so long and so hard to establish.

If the minority in the Senate had merely behaved as virtually every prior caucus of both parties had done, allowing the confirmation relatively routinely of a qualified executive branch nominee, I can’t see anything but re-election and a full six year term for the Republican who took Ted Kennedy’s seat.

And yet, on the 50th anniversary of Ted’s first senatorial election victory Warren and not the incumbent  will be heading back to Washington.

All because the Republicans made a decision to oppose literally everything the President proposed.  I’m not saying that they could have anticipated the consequences that flowed from the decision to try to end every Obama initiative in failure…but there are indeed outcomes that flow from their actions.  What caused once  sure-things like Akin and Mourdock to fall was more explicit, more obvious, clearly the result of the long process of radicalization that has wrecked the Republican party.  But don’t let the self-destruction of the crazies fool you.  They and Brown all lost for overlapping reasons — and the biggest of them is that the GOP has doubled down on the belief that if they wreck the country they will be rewarded with power.  Brown can be seen as collateral damage — or perhaps a victim of Republican friendly fire.

He won’t be the last one.

In the meantime, I get pleasure every time remember this: all those GOP senators who swore never to permit Warren anywhere near actual power have got a problem.

Q:  What do you call that nice lady from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?

A:  Senator.

May they choke on the lesson.

*Losing is no fun, and those last few days of working when you know that the face of the campaign simply never grasped the basics of the job — those final shifts really, really suck.

Image:  Francisco de Goya, Incendio, fuego de noche, 1793.

63 replies
  1. 1
    Noah Brand says:

    Best schadenfreude I’ve seen all day: http://www.libertarianrepublic.....-only.html

    Libertarian douche calls for open revolt, says he will be taking a break from blogging to focus on revolt, lists several major lifestyle-altering forms of revolt, then decides they’re… eh… not for him, and describes his detailed plan to just be really rude all the time. Must be read to be believed.

  2. 2
    feebog says:

    Tom, that is one of the finest pieces of writing I have ever seen on any blog, let alone this one. My hat is off to you, you nailed it. Not only did the Republicans lose a seat they should have retained, they will now have to contend with a senator who has an agenda. That agenda is to fight for and protect the middle class and to stand up to the big money special interests who have poisened our political discourse. She has that seat as long as she wants it. May they choke on their hubris.

  3. 3
    Robin G. says:

    Did everyone watch the #RomneyDeathRally thread on Twitter last night? It was some of the most epic horror storytelling I’ve seen in many a year. (One guy picked out the best ones and put them into a Lovecraftian Norse Epic. I cried laughing.)

  4. 4
    David Koch says:

    Warren is already a complete failure.

    Not once did she mention Drooooooooones in her speech. Not once! She also failed to bring up the Public Option. Not once!

    She SOLD US OUT!

  5. 5
    Roger Moore says:

    @Noah Brand:

    his detailed plan to just be really rude all the time.

    Also known as continuing normal daily activities for a Libertarian.

  6. 6
    GregB says:

    It’s quite the full circle. Scott Brown was the opening salvo in the whole tea-bagger rebranding insurrection.

    Knocking off Ted K’s old seat with a GOPer who was whatever the GOP and far right wanted him to be. An empty vessel for their bitter angst.

    That began the dark times for Obama.

    Then Occupy came along and reintroduced left wing populism. Warren had a great little rant that was real salve for those of us on the left looking for some red meat.

    President Obama’s resurgence came when he started talking like a populist from the left.

    Warren was the dream target of all of the billionaires and Wall Streeters who were so butthurt by any criticism of them and their criminality.

    Warren’s election was one of the great big cheer moments last night.

    The rest is history.

  7. 7
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Robin G.: I live in fear of the libertarian’s dog that shits on my lawn.

    The crazy…it burnzzzz.

  8. 8
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @GregB:

    President Obama’s resurgence came when he started talking like a populist from the left.

    I really wish people would read the fucking Whitehose.gov website. This is bullshit myth-making right here. Obama was *always* talking populism, from his first months in office.

  9. 9
    me says:

    Best schadenfreude I’ve seen all day: http://www.libertarianrepublic…..-only.html

    That’s some half-assed Galt going there.

  10. 10
    Robin G. says:

    @Noah Brand: This is just too much fun. Delicious, delicious tears…

  11. 11
    beltane says:

    In terms of schadenfreude inducing qualities, the Warren victory is somewhat reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s election to the Senate in 2000. It was highly satisfying to see Hillary being seated among the very same douchebags who had voted to convict her husband a couple of years earlier, and it will be just as satisfying to see Elizabeth Warren being seated among her detractors in January.

  12. 12
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Sorry for the absence, I’ve been basking in the flow of wingnut tears. Mostly doing a leisurely backstroke. Too many of the angry comments are coming from mules who have dug in their heels and refuse to change. They are pulling for moving harder to the right, ignoring the bitch-slap from reality last night.

    How deranged are some of these people getting? Try this comment:

    You guys didn’t have a good answer even after John Ziegler had his DVDs and stated that media bias accounted for 3 BILLION in FREE PR and the estimate could be as high as 5 BILLION with local and other media.
    Obama would air an ad and it would be praised, amplified and re run over and over.

    Is this person familiar with the Fairness Doctrine and how the right fought to get rid of it? I bet this stupid fuck would be happy to have that back now that it’s working against them, right? These idiots have proven again and again that they are only for things that benefit them while voting again and again for things that cost them.

    Party purity, it ain’t free.

    Damn this has been an enjoyable 24 hours. Thank you America!! You helped millionaires and billionaires spend yachtloads of the money they have amassed and gave them absolutely nothing in return.

    Congratulations! :)

  13. 13
    cmorenc says:

    @feebog:

    Not only did the Republicans lose a seat they should have retained, they will now have to contend with a senator who has an agenda.

    Not only that, but Warren can probably hold the seat for an indefinite number of election cycles so long as she is so willing, just as Kennedy did and Kerry seems capable of doing. By the end of her first term, she could become just as formidable a force in the Senate, in her own way, as Kennedy was, a true lioness of the progressive movement.

  14. 14
    TooManyJens says:

    @Noah Brand: I wonder how many of the people in his comments talking about how they hate Americans and Americans are moochers consider themselves patriots.

  15. 15
    Hill Dweller says:

    What the f**k is going on with Florida? Why haven’t they finished counting the ballots yet?

    Is Voldemort scouring the state trying to find enough votes to give Willard a hollow victory?

  16. 16
    burnspbesq says:

    @Noah Brand:

    Wow. That’s really pathetic.

  17. 17
    Tom Levenson says:

    @cmorenc: This.

  18. 18
    burnspbesq says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    Now it’s time for some indictments, starting with Sheldon Adelson.

  19. 19
    Felonius Monk says:

    Well said, Tom. Bravo to you and all the hard working people who made achieved this electoral success. May Ms. Warren spend many terms in the Senate beating down the idiots.

  20. 20
    SatanicPanic says:

    I’m in my thirties. People my age and younger have never lived in a liberal era. I can’t describe how much last night means to me. We WON. We really did. Finally things are going our way and they’re going to get better.

  21. 21
    burnspbesq says:

    Walked into the family room to see whether there is a replay of Celtic – Barcelona. Spouse left TV tuned to Charlie Rose, with Doris Kearns Goodwin. I think I’m going to vomit?

  22. 22
    Anna in PDX says:

    I am so happy for her. I started sending her monthly donations through one of the balloon juice act blue thermometers last Spring. I got one of those t shirts saying i am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic party. I am such a fangirl! So happy.

  23. 23
    Angela says:

    @Noah Brand: Is that for a real? It would be a great parody, but scary as real.

  24. 24
    amk says:

    no mere pickup could dodge.

    Niiice.

    The best of that sweet schadenfreude was the 7+ margin. Massholes didn’t fuck up yet again, thank fsm.

  25. 25
    Lancelot Link says:

    @TooManyJens: I wonder how many of the people in his comments talking about how they hate Americans and Americans are moochers consider themselves patriots.
    At this point, calling for the overthrow of the US government in the pages of Pravda is considered by many on the right to be the height of patriotism.

  26. 26
    Morzer says:

    You want something to laugh at, try the Boston Herald’s utter loss of sanity in the aftermath of the Brown defeat. Holly Robichaud has denounced the voters of Massachusetts en masse for “disgracing themselves”. Howie Carr has entered the terminal phase of a senile rage-athon of truly delightful proportions. Truly, the mouth-foaming rage on display is utterly gratifying.

  27. 27
    amk says:

    @Noah Brand:

    I am going to un-friend every single individual on Facebook who voted for Obama

    lmao. yeah, that will show them. Jeebuz, the idiocy of wingers never seems to hit the peak.

  28. 28
    MattR says:

    @Noah Brand:

    If I meet a Democrat in my life from here on out, I will shun them immediately. I will spit on the ground in front of them, being careful not to spit in their general direction so that they can’t charge me with some stupid little nuisance law. Then I’ll tell them in no un-certain terms: “I do not associate with Democrats. You all are communist pigs, and I have nothing but utter disgust for you. Sir/Madam, you are scum of the earth.” Then I’ll turn and walk the other way.

    And the Democrats cheered.

  29. 29
    JustAnotherBob says:

    I am going to un-friend every single individual on Facebook who voted for Obama

    Those people have a double reason to celebrate….

  30. 30
    dm says:

    Dear Republicans,

    The culture war is over.

    Culture won.

  31. 31
    peorgietirebiter says:

    I saw the senator elect on Morning Joe today. She has an incredibly winning earnestness that I found almost irresistable. Most of the panel seemed to feel the same. Unfortunately, Scarborough was less than gracious when the others commented on it. I’m still amazed by the utter lack of grace that’s become today’s GOP.

  32. 32
    amk says:

    @dm: stolen and tweeted.

  33. 33
    Cmm says:

    @Noah Brand:

    Wow that is some epic whining over there. I am sure the relatives he is breaking off relations with are boo hooing right now. His big protest ideas against EBT show the sophisticated protest strategy of a 9th grader. And for someone taking his leave of the Internet, he sure can’t shut up in the comments. I doubt his hiatus from his blog lasts a week.

  34. 34
    joel hanes says:

    @burnspbesq:

    warrants, starting with Sheldon Adelson

    I’m hoping Husted and Gov. Walker are first,
    and are followed by Buck McKeon.

  35. 35
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Noah Brand: Jesus christ that is hilarious.

    Have clients who voted Democrat? Call them up this morning and tell them to take their business elsewhere’s.

    Yeah, take your business elsewheres! Don’t buy my stuff, LIBTARD!

  36. 36
    peorgietirebiter says:

    @Noah Brand: Dean Wormer, dead. Neidermeyer, dead.
    His family is no doubt. praising Jesus and the Kenyan usurper for delivering them from this knob

  37. 37
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @TooManyJens:

    I wonder how many of the people in his comments talking about how they hate Americans and Americans are moochers consider themselves patriots

    Earlier today I ran across a commentor on Larison’s blog who said very emphatically that we need a dictator like Francisco Franco or Augusto Pinochet to stem the tide.

    The tide in question was of course the horde of illegal latino immigrants who are swamping us. The commentor saw no irony at all in invoking a Spanish and/or Chilean strongman as their role model for saving our white culture from the brown peril.

  38. 38
    Cain says:

    I kind of feel bad for the guy. He’s really lost his mind. The others seems fairly reasonable. The best part was watching people who first started trolling then immediately got concerned and engaged for constructively. Liberals. Gotta love em.

  39. 39
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    Have you (general) been following the Atlas Shrugged Guy who wrote to Fallows saying he was closing his business if Obama was reelected? He got into a correspondence, with updates as the day went on. A promise summary of post election correspondence is something I’m eagerly awaiting.

  40. 40
    AnotherBruce says:

    I spit in your general direction.

  41. 41
    Seanly says:

    @Noah Brand:

    Sounds like he was already a total douchebag. He’s just using the election as an excuse to let his freak flag fly full.

  42. 42
    Roger Moore says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Now it’s time for some indictments, starting with Sheldon Adelson.

    Sorry, but he has to wait in line behind the Bush Administration. I want to see Dick Cheney do the perp walk.

  43. 43
    John Hay says:

    I am the fellow who decided to support Elizabeth’s run for the Senate.

    In February I began a petition to POTUS on Change.org and arranged for Professor Barbara Burkett (as an American citizen from NC) to write a letter to the President making the case for EW to be considered for the role of Keynote Speaker at the DNC Convention. As things turned out she got an even better speaking spot at the Convention. And she hit it right out to the stadium.

    6000+ Tweets @jollyswagman1 later plus numerous Facebook posts and emails on OFA sites gave me all the contact force I needed to spread the word widely about EW and her long term value to MA and the country.

    Incidentally, I am an Australian citizen who has supported Barack Obama since Jan 2008. As you would appreciate, whatever is decided in the White House can in certain matters directly affect Down Under as well.

    I very much enjoyed reading your article and I look forward to seeing America feeling bright and beautiful once again.

  44. 44

    Tom, I always enjoy your writing but this one is really good, quite eloquent and nicely reasoned. Good job.

    If the right had half the talent on display in this post and the comments they’d be far more difficult adversaries…

    ok, that’s all the sweetness and light I’ve got in me for the next six months or so…

  45. 45
    angler says:

    Awesome post Tom. More schadenfreude please.

  46. 46
    dr. bloor says:

    @Noah Brand:

    This is a lunatic with something of a pedigree.

  47. 47
    Rathskeller says:

    @Noah Brand: fantastic stuff, thanks for citing here. America has died, it is the worst thing ever — and so, I will be really, really cranky from now on. It’s like someone who wanted to join the French Resistance, but ultimately decided that he would only make obscene gestures towards the German soldiers in the dark.

  48. 48
    AxelFoley says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    I really wish people would read the fucking Whitehose.gov website. This is bullshit myth-making right here. Obama was always talking populism, from his first months in office.

    Thank you.

  49. 49
    danah gaz says:

    @Noah Brand: LOLOLOLLO

    The guy actually dox’d himself!

    Bill, great. I live in Houston, Texas. Name the time and place. I will gladly meet you and spit on the ground in front of you.

    Here’s my cell 979-848-4575. Call me or text me with a time and place. I do travel. So, I could meet you somewhere’s else in the U.S.

    Don’t be a pussy. Call mother fucker.

    Somehow, I don’t feel bad about this. He volunteered the information, unprompted.

    If you want to send him a text, anonymously, you can use ohdontforget.com

    =)

  50. 50
    danah gaz says:

    @Noah Brand: @Noah Brand: LOLOLOLOL

    The guy actually dox’d himself!

    Bill, great. I live in Houston, Texas. Name the time and place. I will gladly meet you and spit on the ground in front of you.

    Here’s my cell 979-848-4575. Call me or text me with a time and place. I do travel. So, I could meet you somewhere’s else in the U.S.

    Don’t be a p*ssy. Call mother f*cker.

    Somehow, I don’t feel bad about this. He volunteered the information, unprompted. And reposted his cell # repeatedly

    If you want to send him a text, anonymously, you can use ohdontforget.com

    =)

  51. 51
    MaryRC says:

    @Noah Brand: That was hilarious. I love the part where he plans to spit at Democrats — not exactly at them because they might retaliate, but somewhere in their general vicinity — and that’ll show them! Lordy, what a weasel.

  52. 52
    priscianusjr says:

    @David Koch:

    Warren is already a complete failure.– Not once did she mention Drooooooooones in her speech. Not once! She also failed to bring up the Public Option. Not once!– She SOLD US OUT!

    You tell it bro — just like Obama SOLD HER OUT!

  53. 53
    priscianusjr says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    we need a dictator like Francisco Franco or Augusto Pinochet to stem the tide.

    I thought that was what Romney was supposed to be. Matter of fact, that’s why I voted for Obama.

    FOUR MORE YEARS!!!

  54. 54

    @priscianusjr:

    Sold her out? I thought he threw her under the bus.

  55. 55
    Lee Rudolph says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Earlier today I ran across a commentor on Larison’s blog who said very emphatically that we need a dictator like Francisco Franco or Augusto Pinochet to stem the tide. The tide in question was of course the horde of illegal latino immigrants who are swamping us. The commentor saw no irony at all in invoking a Spanish and/or Chilean strongman as their role model for saving our white culture from the brown peril.

    Franco’s side disparaged the defenders of the Republic as “Moros” (in contrast to themselves, the “Cristianos”), and Pinochet’s gang was, ahem, by and large a shade whiter than the more indigenous Chileans. So the commentor may be on to something, at that.

  56. 56
    Greg Laden says:

    It will still be a while before I forgive the National Committee or the Mass Dems for letting the iconic Teddy Kennedy’s iconic Senate seat go up for sale at a tea party garage sale, but this change make me very happy.

  57. 57
    PaulW says:

    There is now a Senator sitting in office who is well aware how disastrous it is to oppose an executive or judicial nomination for a qualified candidate. A Senator who knows that it’s NOT all zero-sum games to block appointments for partisan gain.

    Warren’s first moves as Senator ought to be making a public effort to bring the Cloture rule down to a simple majority vote, and shut down Secret Holds entirely. The Senate sets these rules at the beginning of each session: 8:00 am Day ONE we need to see an end of the Partisan Log-Jam.

  58. 58
    brantl says:

    @PaulW: EXACTLY

  59. 59
    28 Percent says:

    How is it that an entire generation seems to have skipped learning the lesson “you reap what you sow”? Or even, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”? Do they never learn from their mistakes? Because this election looked awfully to me like the Republicans applied the philosophies behind their foreign policy which have time and again failed miserably and decided to cross-apply those philosophies to domestic politics.

    They are taking strategies which are only effective – and even when they are effective, only marginally so – when the entity using them has a large strategic advantage, and trying to use them against opponents with whom they are evenly matched. It’s not terribly bright.

  60. 60
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Greg Laden: In a way, this is the best possible outcome. Martha Coakley would have been better than Scott Brown; Elizabeth Warren is at least that much better than Coakley, and will be able to hold this seat as long as she wants it.

  61. 61
    gf120581 says:

    Excellent write-up on the MA Senate race and how Republicans shot themselves in the foot. They truly don’t think long term, do they? They never thought that nixing Warren would come back and bite them in the ass, but it has. I still remember a hearing where that little shit Patrick McMurphy (and I do mean little – the guy’s so short he’s practically a hobbit) insulted and verbally abused her. Now she has a better job than he does.

    But truth be told, I don’t think there’s a race where the GOP shot themselves in the foot more than the IN Senate race, where they took what would have been a sure-fire hold with Lugar and now have handed it on a silver platter to the Democrats. And I’m not just talking about Mourdock defeating Lugar. If the IN GOP had not redistricied Joe Donnelly out of his House seat after he held on in 2010, he probably would not have taken the plunge and run for the Senate in the first place. But he did and therefore when Lugar lost, the Dems had a first-tier candidate waiting to take advantage of it. Again, the GOP didn’t think ahead. And now they’ve paid for it.

  62. 62
    Ellyn says:

    Great diary. Being from South Boston, I understand Brown’s appeal, especially to the racists. But Warren is such a perfect fit for MA. “The mills of God grind exceedingly slow, but they grind exceedingly fine.” Or every action has a reaction.

  63. 63
    David Brooks (not that one) says:

    My wife and I flew from Seattle to New England to work on the Warren campaign – wife was there for over two weeks. We spent the last few days doorbelling in working class central Mass (Auburn and Millbury).

    There were a number of Obama/Brown ticket splitters. And it turned out that the number one reason for their liking Brown was that “he’s a nice guy”.

    So I think Brown’s wound was self-inflicted as surely as Akin’s and Mourdock’s. If your advantage is that you are the nice guy, and you act like a prick in debates in front of half the state, then it’s over. Not that Prof Warren wasn’t a fantastic candidate. But it’s nice when the opponent double-faults.

    p.s. we came because we lived in Mass for 15 years, brought the kids up there, and although we left in 1997 we were sickened at the idea of Teddy’s seat going to a Republican.

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