Scott Brown arrives in Washington driving his famous truck, and he looks like a million dollars -- Jimmy Stewart playing Mr. Smith. President Obama polishes his State of the Union Address and suddenly he's looking discounted to more like a few thousand dollars. The two events are not unrelated.
The president will speak to the joint session of Congress next week as his approval ratings have fallen from a high of 70 percent a year ago to less than 50 percent, proving once more that in politics nothing recedes like success. At this time last year, Obama was President Possibility, with everybody cheering his promises and expectations. This year, he's President Impractical, exposed as the Pied Piper who suddenly can't seem to squeeze a note from his dented musical pipe.
Only a month ago, Scott Brown was trailing state Attorney General Martha Coakley by 20 points, headed toward the oblivion of returning to the state senate. His five-point triumph was all the sweeter for it, the accomplishment of the impossible dream of election to the U.S. Senate as a Republican in Massachusetts.
Democrats in Washington are trying to spin the upset as merely the work of an inept candidate running a poor campaign, but nobody in the Democratic spin dryer actually believes that. Brown kept his eye on the prize, driving his message of lower taxes, smaller government, cutting spending and above all squashing the monstrosity of ObamaCare. He tapped into anger at an administration in Washington that has grown arrogant and out of touch in only 12 months. Scott Brown won the argument in Massachusetts, but the message, like the buck, stops in the Oval Office.
How could such an outlandish upset happen? Let us count the ways. First of all, the gap between what the people expected Barack Obama to be and what he became has widened into a canyon, and the rhetorical flourishes that so mesmerized so many have become a form of self-mockery. The empty vessel the voters filled to overflowing with summer hopes and winter dreams could not withstand the weight of radical ideology, and he has suffered for it.