A Party of Asses

By Eileen McNamara | Boston Magazine |

SENATORS FROM NEW YORK AND NEVADA are urging Harvard’s Elizabeth Warren to take on Senator Scott Brown in 2012. Howard Dean’s former presidential campaign manager is working for Democrat Bob Massie, who’s already announced that he’s in the race for Brown’s seat. And throughout the country, City Year veterans are signing up for still another challenger, Alan Khazei, one of the state’s most progressive Democrats.  

[sidebar]Liberals from across the nation, in other words, are filling the leadership vacuum created by a calcified Democratic Party establishment in Massachusetts that, in the run-up to next year’s Senate race, is crippled by nostalgia and petty corruption. While local Democrats spent the past six months celebrating the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration and dreaming of a Senate run by Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the late Ted Kennedy’s transparently unwilling widow, Brown was amassing $8 million to flatten whichever candidate the Democratic Party finally, tepidly, gets around to embracing.

It’s true that the numerically challenged Republicans in Massachusetts are in perpetual trouble. But the GOP’s weakness in the Bay State has undermined its enemy’s house, as well. The lack of competition in Massachusetts has bred complacency on Capitol Hill, where Democrats receive the equivalent of lifetime tenure, and fraud on Beacon Hill.

If Massachusetts Democrats would stop looking over their shoulders in search of another Kennedy in the wings — is there time for Maria Shriver to establish residency in Hyannis Port and snag the sympathy vote? — they might see the local talent attracting national attention that has sprung up in spite of them, the sort of talent that could beat Scott Brown in 2012.

Rather than local party officials, for example, it’s Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic Conference vice chair Senator Chuck Schumer who have tried to recruit the straight-talking Warren to challenge Brown. They know Massachusetts voters would embrace her fight for consumers against duplicitous banks and mortgage brokers. Republicans have been blocking Warren’s appointment as director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because they know she would do what the job requires: regulate the financial institutions that brought this country to the edge of depression. Working people are desperate for a political champion with Warren’s intelligence and energy. But state Democratic leaders have taken no notice.

Months after bloggers at the local site Blue Mass Group and those at the national political blog the Daily Kos launched a “Draft Elizabeth Warren” movement — and one day after Warren, the special adviser to the president, electrified liberals by standing up to Republican Congressional bullying — John Walsh, the chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, told the State House News Service,
“I really don’t know her other than seeing her on TV.”

You need to get out more, John. Members of Warren’s national fan club have checkbooks.