Some sensible and some silly things have been said in the last 24 hours or so regarding our Senate race. Let’s review a couple of them.
- Dred Scott and Citizens United: As you probably know by now, Ed Markey issued a call to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision with a constitutional amendment. Then he elaborated:
And the Constitution must be amended. The Dred Scott decision had to be repealed – we have to repeal Citizens United.
That was, IMHO, an unwise comparison. However much one may dislike the Citizens United case, it surely does not compare to a decision that allowed actual human beings to be treated as property, and that led to a civil war. On the other hand, it’s also not as if Markey was apologizing for slavery or anything. Seems to me that Reverend Talbert W. Swan II, the president of the Springfield NAACP who was part of a group of clergy who met with Markey earlier the same day, got it about right:
“I don’t think I would have compared any Supreme Court decision to the Dred Scott decision that subjugated a whole race, but I do understand the parallel between the two cases,” Swan said. “The Dred Scott ruling denied rights to human beings and made them property. The Citizens United case took property and gave it human rights. I don’t think he had an ill intent making the comparison, but it’s an ill-timed statement, with it being black History Month. I think he should probably be more sensitive to the long-standing effect slavery has had on African Americans.”
I don’t think Markey especially helped matters by issuing a follow-up statement declaring that “[t]he Supreme Court had the horrific judgment to issue the Dred Scott decision, and people rose up to challenge it. Today we’re faced with another egregious decision that needs overturning – Citizens United.” I mean, “people rose up to challenge” Dred Scott – yeah, there was a civil war. Is that really what Markey is calling for in light of Citizens United? Surely not. I don’t believe for a moment that that is what Markey meant, but he needs to realize that every little comment he makes from now until he wins or loses this race is going to be examined under a high-powered microscope in a way that he maybe is not accustomed to.
- Scot Lehigh: Everyone’s favorite Globe pundit weighed in on Markey’s campaign today and gave it decidedly mixed reviews. Some of what he said strikes me as fair; some, not so much. Take this, for instance:
Markey’s issues are pretty much standard progressive fare: Action on climate change. Tougher gun laws. Immigration reform, with a path to citizenship. Equal pay for women. Clean energy. Protecting abortion rights and the rights of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities. And passing a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
No, I don’t think that’s fair. It’s true that most Democratic candidates at least pay lip service to climate change. But Markey is a genuine leader on that issue. He doesn’t just talk about it; he means it, and that’s pretty unusual among candidates running for statewide office anywhere. There’s a reason that folks whose top issue is climate change are so excited about the possibility of a Senator Markey.
This, on the other hand, strikes me as closer to the mark:
Markey is an accomplished, substantive, energetic congressman with a proven record of effectiveness. But at least in the early going, he’s running a careful, bland front-runner’s campaign for the US Senate.
And if this report from NECN is correct, the slow start that I (among others) worried about may not have speeded up all that much:
Markey dismissed the criticism, saying he has been out all over the state, including Brockton earlier Wednesday and a stop in Lowell later that same night.
“Over the last several days, I’ve been in Lawrence and Lynn, in Beverly, in Somerville and I am going 24 hours a day, seven days a week and I will be throughout the whole course of this campaign,” Markey says.
But these are mostly private gatherings of key supporters and donors – which are not announced to the public or the media.
Am I panicked? No. But I continue to think that Markey has been oddly slow to introduce himself to the public. He needs to forget the endorsements of John Kerry, Vicki Kennedy, and the DSCC (who was it, again, that cared about any of that?) and run like he’s losing. A “front-runner strategy” is almost always a terrible idea, and this race is no exception.
- Gomez hits the streets. Republican hopeful Gabriel Gomez, like every other candidate, is in the midst of gathering the 10,000 signatures he needs to get on the ballot. But he, along among the candidates (as far as I know), used his signature drive as an opportunity to make quite a charming video:Of course there’s not a word in there about what Gomez actually thinks about any issue, but that’s not the point – the point is to show him as a family man, a Navy SEAL, a guy who speaks fluent Spanish, a guy who is easy to talk to, a guy who enjoys pressing the flesh at Mul’s Diner, a guy who just knows he can “change Washington.” Not all that many people will actually see this video (current views are under 7,000, according to YouTube), but I do think it’s pretty well done and gives us a clear look at the kind of campaign Gomez would like to run. And don’t miss the pointed bit where he is actually shaking hands and getting signatures outside Fenway Park while talking about how cold it is. No accident there, I’d say.