The New Martha Coakley
If you're one of the many Massachusetts voters who's been wondering why Scott Brown's voting has been a bit... eclectic, here's the answer.
Nearly one year after Edward M. Kennedy's death, prominent Democrats in Washington and Massachusetts are promoting his widow as the party's best shot at winning back the Senate seat he held for nearly five decades.
Democrats get elected because they have the money and machinery of the taxpayer funded labor movement at their disposal. With so much infrastructure on their side, they expect lightweight candidates with Hallmark storylines to bring them across the finish line. "Oh, she'd be the first woman." "Oh, she was by his side in his dark times - she saved his life!"
Though she has seemed to bat down the idea of challenging Sen. Scott Brown (R) in 2012, Victoria Reggie Kennedy has been in some ways acting the part of a candidate. She has raised her public profile by campaigning for other politicians and appearing at events across the country.
Scott knows that his best path to a full term is to be such a powerhouse that dopes with nothing to offer - ie, highly electable Democrats like Vickie Kennedy - are simply scared to get in the race. That means having a great story to tell, and a ton of money to use to tell the story.
The prospect of her candidacy is fast becoming a source of family tension, according to several Kennedy intimates. Some relatives fear that a campaign against Brown -- a popular figure even in liberal Massachusetts -- would distract Kennedy from promoting her late husband's legacy, they said.
Voters say they're tired of bickering politicians who do what their leadership tells them instead of offering the leadership they were elected to provide. So Scott is carving a reputation as the candidate who has reached across the aisle and broken with party and gotten things passed.
Vicki Kennedy, a lawyer from a powerful political family in Louisiana who married into the Kennedy dynasty in 1992, declined to be interviewed for this article. She passed up the chance to run for the seat last year, and several confidants said she has told them that she has no plans to run this time.
Scott is molding himself into a statesman, the sort of leader who may anger the Tea Party right for being so mainstream, but who will dominate among independents and will reach across the aisle for strong support amongst Democrats.
But some party leaders have been quietly promoting her as their preferred candidate. They believe her stature and the goodwill she earned after her husband's death on Aug. 25 put her in a uniquely strong position.
Democrats have no one in a position to challenge Scott, who is now the best funded and most popular political figure in the state. So why not throw Vickie to the wolves, for, as they rightly estimate, they've got nothing to lose!
Phil Johnston, a former chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, said he and many others have urged her to run, and Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.) said she would be "a superb candidate, no question."
With all due respect - while Vickie may not be all that bright, she's definitely smarter than to let herself become the new Martha Coakley.