Five days after blaming the national guppy shortage for Democratic candidate Martha Coakley's struggles, editorial page editor-gone-columnist Gail Collins turned from denial to desperation in her first column since Republican Scott Brown's miraculous win in the special election to fill the Massachusetts Senate seat: "Democratic Silver Linings."
Poor Democrats, cheer up. There's always a bright side.
On the one hand, the Republicans have a new superstar, Scott Brown, the senator-elect from Massachusetts. On the other, he's already beginning to come off as a little strange.
During Tuesday night's victory speech, Brown veered off-script and offered up his college-student daughters to the crowd. ("Yes, they're both available!") As his girls laughed with embarrassment and his wife yelled at him to stop, Brown just dug deeper. ("Arianna's definitely not available, but Ayla is.")
The White House would really rather not see the vote as a commentary on Obama. In this they are in accord with Scott Brown, who when asked whether his victory was a referendum on the president, said cheerfully: "It's much bigger than that."
Collins, floundering around for an entity besides Barack Obama to criticize, hit upon the novel idea that the recent Democratic losses are merely a collection of anti-state house revolts from people "really, really angry about the state government. This is a national theme."
The tone here is hard to decipher. Is Collins being facetious or does she truly believe every Democratic loss from here on out is solely a function of state politics? There might have been a grain of truth in that perspective if only discussing the governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey. But filling a U.S. Senate race is far more of a national matter, especially a seat with no sitting incumbent.
Some painfully unfunny pseudo-paradoxes follow:
Health care! The voters were definitely sending a message, which was that Obama should have pushed harder, or else been more bipartisan. Many of the morning-after advocates of bipartisanship said Obama's big error was failing to appease the Republican desire for doing something about malpractice insurance and torts. The people hate torts. Except the creamy chocolate kind.
The voters of Massachusetts were definitely angry about taxes, although the ones they seemed most ticked off about were in the state. Everyone was really, really angry about the state government. This is a national theme. Vitriol also abounded last November in New Jersey and Virginia. And payback is coming soon in Illinois, which is going to have its primaries in a couple of weeks.
On her way to a Palin crack, Collins made the unjustified implication that Coakley and Obama are "sensible centrists."
Now people are less scared than irate because the stock market seems to have come back while they're left behind. The angrier they get, the crazier their political objects of affection become. You can't drive home the point that you're hopping mad by voting for some sensible centrist. Really, the scarier the better. Sarah Palin, be my valentine.