OFF THE GRID

Don’t Worry About Scott Brown—It’s Not About Obama, It’s About the Kennedys

Jan 20, 10 | 6:28 AM   byMichael Wolff
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Scott Brown is certainly an inconvenience for the Democrats but a long way from being a predictor of their doom. Massachusetts, which is frequently at odds with national trends, is an electoral model distorted by almost 65 years of hereditary rule.

In Massachusetts they’re throwing off a mighty yoke.

The Kennedy legacy is as burdensome as it is distinguished. It’s compelled generations of Massachusetts voters, through habit, sentiment, guilt, and not being able to imagine anything else, to keep Kennedys in office in spite of a deeply mixed record. Beyond the accomplishment of longevity itself, the Kennedys—as everybody knows—have been glamour boys with other things on their minds than Massachusetts.

Bay State voters have been trying to rebel for a long time. Teddy came perilously close to defeat. The next generation of Kennedys, sensing a growing voter ambivalence, has muted their claims of permanent patrimony. (The people of Massachusetts undoubtedly noticed that the people of New York were less than keen on anointing Caroline Kennedy for the Senate last year.) But they really didn’t know it was truly over in Massachusetts until the last son departed and, surprising to all, the torch was not passed.

Martha Coakley, just an average local pol, was every non-Kennedy-sycophant’s ticket out. And not just: Even Kennedy-sycophants seemed to understand that, suddenly, they were not needed or bound.

It’s been a very heady moment. Euphoria is in the air.

Clearly, it’s a little dig at Obama, perhaps for health care, but, perhaps too, for being such a Kennedy suck-up. The support of the Kennedys got him elected, after all, which was one more reminder to the people of Massachusetts of the excessive weight of this family.

Enough is enough. People really don’t like entitlement. People really do like change.

True, Scott Brown seems like a light-weight pretty boy, but then so were the Kennedys, and so is the other senator, John Kerry, and the former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney. What’s more, Scott Brown is a yuppie rather than a scion, like the Kennedys, Kerry, and Romney—so electing him may be, with a little critical interpretation, a new flowering of egalitarianism.

Anyway, the election of Scott Brown very likely says less about the president and the fortunes of the Democratic Party than it does about Massachusetts, for so long a captive state. Now it’s free, for better or worse.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWolffNYC.

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