Attack Journalism

I don't think the Boston Globe realised that it did an front page attack on Martha Coakley this morning.
Coakley leaves quickly, hurrying through a reception downstairs, passing up the refreshments, shaking maybe a few hands on the way out. On the front steps, she rubs elbows with city councilors and School Committee members. She gives the mayor a comradely hug and a peck on the cheek. Then she is gone. “Do you know where Coakley went?’’ a man asks. He wants to get another picture of her. He chases her black Ford Taurus and tries in vain to wave it down.
This is the Globe's 'get to know her' puff-piece on Coakley, but to know her is to... vote for Scott Brown.
The appearance characterizes Coakley’s approach to this truncated race. Aware that she has little time for the hand-shaking and baby-kissing of a standard political campaign, she has focused instead on rallying key political leaders, Democratic activists, and union organizers, in hope they will get people to the polls.
Coakley is not interested in voters, she wants the machine to do its dirty work.
...there is a subdued, almost dispassionate quality to her public appearances, which are surprisingly few. Her voice is not hoarse from late-night rallies. Even yesterday, the day after a hard-hitting debate, she had no public campaign appearances in the state.
No public appearances? A week before the election? Unless of course you include a fat-cat fundraiser at a DC wine bar Tuesday night.
Coakley bristles at the suggestion that, with so little time left, in an election with such high stakes, she is being too passive.
“As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?’’ she fires back, in an apparent reference to a Brown online video of him doing just that.
No, you wouldn't want to stand outside and shake hands! It is cold out there.
“This is a special election. And I know that I have the support of (Salem Mayor) Kim Driscoll. And I now know the members of the [Salem] School Committee, who know far more people than I could ever meet.’’
Coakley doesn't want to meet voters, or convince them to vote for her. She wants other people to do it for her.
Crammed into that office are a dozen or so members of the pipefitters union. They are pretty big guys. It looks like a campaign version of the how-many-people-fit-into-a-Volkswagen prank. “Jan. 19 is going to be a cold, hopefully not snowy, but a cold Tuesday after a long weekend,’’ she says. “Our aim now is to get everybody out to vote.’’
One union down, now on to the SEIU.
“If someone’s going to be a little less charismatic but equally up to the job, then that’s good,’’ says Calvin Feliciano, political organizer for Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union. “Health care’s number one, looking out for workers is number two, and she delivers on that.’’
Jeez, it's been a long day. Does she have to meet with any other special interest groups?
“No candidate is going to have the energy Kennedy had,’’ says Jason Garand, business manager of Local 108 of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. “We would rather have a person who talks quietly and carries a big stick than someone who talks a good game but doesn’t remember your name.’’
The Globe must have fired all the editors, because the storyline they're pushing puts her exactly where the voters feel she is - part of the ruling elite that has no interest in the will of the people.
“Martha really is a breath of fresh air for labor,’’ he says. “She does what she says she will do.’’
As a radio talk host, I'm amazed at the number of calls we're getting from union workers who say they're voting for Scott Brown.
“Massachusetts needs Martha Coakley to be the next senator!’’ she says, her voice rising. “There is no way in hell Massachusetts is going to send a Republican to Washington!’’ The 10 people in the room holler, cheer, and applaud. They believe her.
Ten union members. Martha's idea of meeting the people.
She sounds like what she has been for much of her professional career: a prosecutor making an argument to a jury. She knows her unwillingness to loosen up sometimes drives her strategists crazy.
The wave that Scott is riding is powered by voter angst over a country moving quickly in the wrong direction, and the feeling that they are powerless to change its coarse. Scott is the button they can push to say stop.
“I just know when I’m addressing a jury what I have to do and what I have to communicate is different from when I’m talking to my husband,’’ she says.
While her confessed lack of people skills is a problem, what's more critical is lack of interest in talking to people and her failure to even pretend to campaign. It's no time to play Princess, and Coakley is fast becoming the symbol of the entrenched politician.