In August, Ted Kennedy, the Lion of the Senate, the last son of Camelot, the soul of the Democratic Party, friend of the people and scourge of robber barons, fat cats and special interests, departed this mortal coil.
Now, that's not really my opinion of the man. But if you were inclined to imbue Tom Brokaw with pontifical authority or view the world through the prism of the New York Times, or its mini-me the Boston Globe, that's how you'd see Teddy.
So it should be of more than passing interest that "Ted Kennedy's seat" in the Senate may go to Republican Scott Brown next week. And not just any Republican, but an actual conservative, as opposed to some me-too Republican who promises to drive in the same direction as liberals.
Not long ago, Brown was down 30 points to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. Now it's neck and neck, according to many polls. Brown is still the underdog, but the fact that it is even close is in itself hugely significant. It's a bit like Tibet holding its own against China in a land war, or Abe Vigoda giving Tiger Woods a run for his money at Augusta (or, for that matter, at a Vegas nightclub).
Even more astounding, Brown is running directly against what everyone agrees was Ted Kennedy's signature issue and legacy: health care reform. Massachusetts is the most famously Democratic state in the union. Barack Obama's presidency and the Democratic congressional majority are invested in health care reform like a Bernie Madoff victim, and Brown is surging by running as the monkey wrench for the whole thing.
This is like a Democrat successfully running in Texas on tax hikes, gay marriage and funding the Pentagon solely through bake sales.
The Democratic Party is panicking like brothel patrons with the cops at the door. They're dropping shock troops of muckety-mucks, hacks, spinners and door-knockers into Boston like Rangers into Normandy.
Meanwhile, the liberal press establishment is in near-total denial. Yes, the race is getting a lot of attention, but Coakley's problems are being chalked up to the fact that she is a bad campaigner and that this is a bad "climate" for the Democrats.
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