We’ve been saying it here since forever; Charlie Pierce told us in February; nothing has changed since then, except that the conventional wisdom seems to be crystallizing: Joe Kennedy has no real reason to run for Senate. He’s failing the Roger Mudd test.
What is, exactly, his vision for a new era? What’s in it for us? This empty campaign has inevitably turned negative, because Kennedy offers nothing, in either his record nor in his policy program, that outpaces the energetic and effective Markey. The tinniness of Kennedy’s ambition reverberates like a clanging gong. Would that it were rounded out by demonstrated, forward-looking policy ambition — but Kennedy denigrates that too, if it was Ed Markey’s idea.
Kennedy is now basing his campaign on going after some of Markey’s past votes — some taken before Joe was born. How convenient! – the Globe’s Scot Lehigh noticed.
Another Kennedy argument consisted of criticizing Markey for matters on which Kennedy himself never had to declare a contemporaneous position or where his own record is as wispy as fog. Deconstructed, one such attack ran this way: Back when I was in middle school, you voted yes on the big crime bill that’s now out of favor with Democrats. Since I’ve now decided I would have been against it, it’s a fundamental difference between us.https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/06/10/opinion/its-tvs-best-new-comedy-why-is-joe-kennedy-running-us-senate/
If we could go back in time, Kennedy seems to be saying, I surely would have done better. But can Joe point to anything that he’s doing better than Ed, right now?
Here’s Kennedy touting his supposed advantage over Markey. What is this supposed to mean?
… There’s a difference, though, between your ability to file the right kind of bill and get the vote, and understanding the obstacles to change to actually bring about the kind of progressive change that I want to see. Which is why I was in nearly 20 states last cycle to help flip the House. It’s why I was campaigning from West Virginia, to Indiana, to Iowa …
The difference literally is in how you define the job. I believe that being a Senator from Massachusetts is more than voting the way that you vote and the bills that you cast [sic].
Attacks on Markey’s record from the 1990’s — and 1970’s — follow. Not very enlightening as we look forward to 2021, and rebuilding an entire economy.
If going out-of-state and campaigning was good in 2018 … why are you spending your time primarying a good progressive Senator now? And do you really claim to be better at leading a movement than the author of the Green New Deal, a visionary climate justice and economic agenda, which is regarded as the hope for the future by young people around the country — even the world?
Realizing that he’s a little short on achievements and vision, Kennedy reveals the weakness of his hand by trying to tie Markey to fossil fuel interests; belittling his work on cap-and-trade; and diminishing the importance of the Green New Deal; or saying that all of Markey’s yeoman work for gun control hasn’t eliminated the problem yet.
This is laughably desperate; but in this case, odious and actively destructive. It is the projection-politics of Karl Rove, of Swift-Boating — to try to make one’s opponent’s hard-earned advantages work against them.
Kennedy’s swift-boating notwithstanding, we know that Markey did heroic, thankless work on cap-and-trade in 2009-10. He was amazingly effective with basically no help from the grassroots, who took a holiday. (I remember being at a number of health care rallies in 2009-10; and basically no climate rallies.) It passed the House.
Let no one be misled. Every major environmental organization has endorsed Markey. Ed Markey is a climate hero. Joe Kennedy is trying to take out a climate hero, and therefore is not a climate hero.
And in general, his backward-looking attacks expose his own shortcomings more than they diminish Markey.