Backup Election Night Open Thread

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The Guardian



One More Plea for Martha Coakley

I know many of you don’t trust my judgement, but here’s Bay Stater D.R. Tucker at the Washington Monthly on “The Case for Coakley“:

Ask yourself: why do the media and political elites want Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley to lose?

Do they think she should have curled into a ball after the unfortunate outcome of the January 2010 special Senate election in the Bay State? Do they think she should have tried to get a cushy private-sector job instead of continuing her fight on behalf of the powerless, the vulnerable, the working-class folks who break their backs every day trying to stay above water financially? Should she have just quit?

She didn’t quit after that election. She kept on fighting as attorney general, confronting the special interests that were putting the screws to those on the economic bottom, brawling with the big shots who wanted the political and legal system to work for them, not you…

There is a belief in some sections of the Bay State that Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker represents a return to old-school, centrist, reasonable New England Republicanism, the sort of rationality embodied by former Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke. The idea that moderate Republicanism can return to life is powerfully seductive. It’s something we all desperately wish could be true. I found this idea powerfully seductive; it’s why I voted for Baker when he first ran for governor four years ago.

However, even the most idealistic among us now have to acknowledge that “moderate Republicanism” is as much of a fiction as “clean coal,” and that this seduction is always followed by a betrayal…

And here’s Mr. Pierce, with “Two Cheers for Martha“:

…[T]he last two Democratic governors [in Massachusetts] were Michael Dukakis, a neoliberal technocrat, and Deval Patrick, who, at least in his first campaign, ran as the same kind of post-partisan uniter that his good friend from Illinois pronounced himself to be in 2008. For our governors especially, but statewide generally, we elect Republicans. We elect Democrats. We do not elect wingnuts, nor do we elect radical southpaws. We’re a helluva lot more conventional than our image would have you believe. (Senator Professor Warren was both sui generis, and the exception that proves the rule.) And, frankly, Martha Coakley has run a decent campaign for governor, a campaign clearly superior to the one she ran against McDreamy. She won a tough Democratic primary, with opponents who covered the entire spectrum of Democratic politics. She has more than held her own against Baker in their debates. She has done everything that people said she failed to do in 2010, including humanizing herself through her ads. (There’s a very good one in which she describes her brother’s struggle with mental illness, a story that I, for one, had never heard before.) In addition, since losing to Brown, she’s been a damned good attorney general. And Charlie Baker has run a campaign of pablum. Read more

Open Thread (Closed State Races)

I wish Oliver had done this piece before the primaries, when it might have had more of an effect on his wrap-up…

“Between the lack of accountability and the bad behavior, state [legislatures] are not so much the laboratories of government, as the frat houses of government. And yet, they get no attention. Perhaps that’s because it’s very hard for us to be angry with people whose names we don’t know…”

Long Read: “Clay Aiken Doesn’t Sing Any More”

Allison Glock, in Esquire:

For him, it is a question of solemnity. “I recognize there is a little bit of preposterousness to me running for office,” Aiken says as we drive away from the fundraiser and past the lantern-lit Kinkadeian houses of Southern Pines, one of the more conservative hamlets in an already absurdly gerrymandered district. “People like me. But I need them to take me seriously.” (A struggle his campaign team dubbed WTF mountain.) “It’s still a laugh line: ‘Clay Aiken running for Congress? Ha ha ha!’ But when I’m done here, the people of North Carolina will know I’m serious. That this is real.”

Aiken has been the butt of the joke since grade school, where other kids tormented him “like it was their job.” He was poor, raised by a single mom, wore glasses and cheap, clunky tennis shoes, had freckles, walked with his toes pointed east and west, was redheaded and clumsy and effeminate. He was a nesting doll of vulnerabilities, a bully’s fever dream, but especially in the South, where the signifiers of masculinity do not stretch to include musical theater or kindness to Down-syndrome kids…

Part of his unease came from his being in the closet, as much to himself as anyone else. But the more salient truth is that Clayton Holmes Aiken was never constructed for modern celebrity. He was a natural introvert with a soft spot for kids who struggled, and if you’d asked him in middle school what he wanted to be when he grew up, he would have said a teacher or possibly Senator Terry Sanford.

“There was no man I admired more than Terry Sanford,” Aiken recalls, his enunciation crisp and deliberate, as if to mirror his respect for the North Carolina politician who built the community-college system and founded the first U. S. state-run arts school. As governor, Sanford was also the first southern politician to fight conspicuously against segregation in the sixties. In eighth grade, Aiken interviewed him for a school paper. “I didn’t know what my deal was yet, but I knew I was different. And here was this man who was looking out for people who were different.” Read more

Saturday Morning Open Thread

gop rock the vote luckovich
(Mike Luckovich via

I scored eight out of eight in Gail Collin’s Election Day pop quiz, which may explain why I haven’t been feeling very positive about politics recently.* This article helped, though:

MILWAUKEE — “The president was the only one who could get me out here,” said Gloria Malone, a 50-year old home health care worker. “Before that, I was like: The hell with Mary Burke!”

Malone was pressed against more than 3300 people who’d come to Milwaukee’s North Division High School to see Barack Obama make one of his few 2014 campaign trail stops. Like most of the crowd, she was African-American, and had backed the president every time he appeared on the ballot. She was well aware that less-unpopular surrogates, like First Lady Michelle Obama, had trekked to the state even though gubernatorial candidate Burke has avoided nationalizing her race.

Then the presidential visit was announced, and Malone cast an early vote for Burke against Republican Governor Scott Walker, who Burke has fought to a tie in the polls.

“It’s important to see her up there with our president,” said Malone. “We’re running Walker down. The Republicans lost this election when they tried to stop black people from voting.”…

*To quote Ralph Bakshi’s Aragon: “Then we must do without hope. There is always vengeance.”
Apart from making it through next Tuesday without committing a felony, what’s on the agenda for the weekend?