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The election wasn't about Obama

Date: 1/25/2010

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

As you read this column, all of us have had the opportunity to settle down a bit. Those who supported Scott Brown will probably come to the understanding that he will have many moments of enlightenment as the new kid in the Senate and that changing the direction of the nation's business is hard work.

Martha Coakley's supporters will comprehend through the fog of their grief the defeat of the candidate should only spur them on to work harder to achieve their political goals.

Brown will have a nice time in the media spotlight as the right wing talk show hosts will elevate him to rock star status for the next few weeks. Coakley will have to live as the Democratic candidate who allowed Ted Kennedy's legacy to slip through her fingers. She will also have to decide if she is going to run as attorney general again.

This was not a mandate for Brown. It was a solid win, but the margin was not enough to declare he truly represents the overwhelming majority of the electorate.

Considering his statement about Kennedy in his victory speech "Sen. Ted Kennedy was a tireless worker and a big-hearted public servant. There's no replacing a man like that. But tonight I honor the memory and I pledge to be the very best and try to be a worthy successor to the late Sen. Kennedy" I wonder how he will reconcile his right-leaning political views with Kennedy's legacy of positions in the opposite direction.

Time of course will tell. We have a few years before the next regularly scheduled race to see how Brown represents us.

I was the chief greeter at the breakfast meeting of the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce last week and when Betsy Daley, who the chair of the breakfast, announced some significant events including the end of the first year of President Obama's term no one applauded. When she mentioned Brown's election about half of the room showed their support.

There are an awful lot of fearful, angry people in this country whose emotions are legitimate and understandable. An unnecessary war in Iraq, a deep, deep recession, a crisis in housing, bank failures and other problems face this nation. Some of these problems are 30 years in the making and culminated with the policies of the last administration.

What has made the mood worse is that some people thought the president could turn the nation around on a dime. They are disappointed. Progressives are disappointed Obama has been more decisive and liberal in his approach. Conservatives believe Obama is too liberal.

Certainly there is anger in Massachusetts with our Democratic governor and Legislature and their missteps and hijinks.

I reject the notion, though, this election was a referendum on the president. According to one exit poll I heard about Massachusetts voters still gave him relatively high marks.

No, this election was about Scott Brown and Martha Coakley and the fact that more voters responded to his candidacy than hers.

Here's a question to ponder: if Kennedy was alive and well and Brown was his opponent, do you think he would have beat Ted?


Well, are there any points of agreement between these opposite camps? Allow me to suggest one; recently my buddy City Jake concocted one of most temptingly delicious offerings at his City Jake's Cafe on Main Street in Springfield. He took a bed of sweet potato fries and topped them with his homemade chili, cheese, sour cream and hot peppers.

It was so mind-blowing that I'm sure it could provide a bridge over the most contentious political disagreements.

Jake's is another locally owned business, like the ones which advertise with us, who deserve your support.

This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments online to or to 280 North Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028.