Monthly Archives: December 2012

The “Slow Learners” List is Growing.

I’m going to have to add Globe correspondent Tom Keane to my “slow Learners” list.

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Unsolicited Advice for Senator Brown

If Scott Brown asked my advice about how he should proceed with his political career I would start by giving him a brief primer on the present dynamics of federal elections in Massachusetts, the bottom line of which would be that his short term electoral prospects have very little to do with who he is, or what he says or does.

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Big name Dems won’t be fooled in 2013

The news that Congressman Ed Markey will run for the US Senate seat being vacated by John Kerry signals that at least one of the heavy hitters fooled into staying on the sidelines in 2012 will not make the same mistake twice.

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Conservative editorial board fuels Mass GOP hopes

Wednesday’s Washington Times editorial suggests that Scott Brown could pull off “another Massachusetts miracle” in 2013. Interestingly, they frame this possibility as a challenge to “conventional wisdom,” which according to them holds that the “eventual Democratic nominee is a shoo-in to win a special election.” They seem to think that this “conventional wisdom” is based on the same assumptions that produced the very same “conventional wisdom” in 2010. Brown’s 2010 win, therefore, provides all the evidence necessary to sustain the paper’s “not so fast” retort.

This type of editorial/partisan cheer leading is actually just simple product marketing. If the race cannot be hyped, it cannot be profitably covered by the commercial media.

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Political Science Explains the News

Recent news stories remind me how much political science can add to understanding (or prevent misunderstanding) of what goes on in politics. So here goes:

Sorry Tagg Romney, your dad Mitt Romney wasn’t going to be president even if his advertisements showed how cuddly he is. Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe, cheap shot at elected officials the other day – but political science can show you a way to give them proper credit while still suspecting their motives. And the NRA channels a long gone political scientist’s wisdom.

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Popular Misconceptions Die Hard

In today’s Springfield Republican there is a very reasonable, well written, and well sourced article about the upcoming special election to fill John Kerry’s US Senate seat. Yet, the piece contains at least one incorrect characterization of the Brown-Warren race just concluded, as well as some unreasonable implications regarding the potential of Bay State Republicans to benefit from the lessons of 2012 in a 2013 campaign.

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Tidings of comfort & joy from WBUR

I was gently chided by a reader after my last post on the upcoming special election where I suggested that Senator Brown might not be the odds on favorite.  This reader reminded me that despite his loss, Senator Brown remains enormously popular in the state with approval ratings the envy of most politicians.  WBUR confirmed this yesterday

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“Common Sense” Distorts Debate on Gun Control Policy

The re-emergence of the gun control debate in America has reminded me of a book I used last year in an undergraduate course on critical thinking and persuasive writing. The book, by sociologist Duncan Watts, is called Everything is Obvious: Once You Know The Answer. For an excellent and thorough review of the book, go here. Watts makes a compelling and sophisticated argument about the counter-productivity of relying on “common sense” when trying to understand or solve uncommon problems.

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Latest WBUR Poll: Here we go again folks.

A brand new WBUR/MassInc poll shows that Scott Brown would be the choice of Bay State voters when matched up against many of the state’s likely Democratic candidates if the potentially imminent special election for John Kerry’s US Senate seat were held today. Clearly, WBUR reporter Fred thys had not been reading this blog lately.

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“Ol’ Blood ‘n’ Teeth” Warren Heads to the Senate

As Senator-elect Elizabeth (“Ol’ Blood ‘n’ Teeth”) Warren prepares to accept her seat on the Banking Committee it is well to remember that she is not joining some version of the FDR 100 Days Democratic Party. I recalled this recently while reading a short New Yorker piece which recounted a Priorities USA Action ad called Stage.

The ad featured an Indiana paper plant worker who told of how one day he and some co-workers were told to build a stage. When it was built he and the workers from all three shifts were shuffled in front of the stage, where it was announced that Bain Capital had bought the paper mill and they were all fired. According to the ad, Mitt Romney made more than a million dollars on that deal.

But that isn’t the interesting part. Jane Mayer of The New Yorker characterizes the reaction: They “fielded bitter complaints from Democrats who were cozy with the private-equity industry.” Bill Burton of Priorities USA Action said: “When we first went up, there was a lot of pressure on us from people like Steve Rattner, Cory Booker, Harold Ford, and even President Clinton. The leaders of our own party were telling us to quit.”

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