Feigned Umbrage in the Mass Senate Race

Dave Weigel’s recent Slate piece about Gabriel Gomez’s reliance on feigned indignation and disgust is a good one.

Essentially, because Gomez cannot campaign on any particular policy issue or viable legislative proposal, the use of umbrage as a sort of deflector shield is really unavoidable. Because Markey has a lot more money than Gomez, he will have no trouble flooding the zone with shots at Gomez. The problem for Gomez is that crying foul on your opponent’s campaign rhetoric is defense, not offense. Understandably, Gomez is trying desperately to spin his defensiveness as offense by exaggerating the supposed dishonesty of Markey’s ads. Weigel’s piece, however, shows how this kind of exaggeration is a double-edged sword.

As long as the race is perceived as a tit-for-tat affair Gomez will be unable to close the considerable distance between himself and Markey. If boilerplate anti-politician rhetoric and “new” ideas like term limits and withholding Congressional pay are all Gomez has to offer, then I assume his handlers are playing for a big Markey mistake.

About Jerold Duquette

Jerold Duquette is an associate professor of political science at Central Connecticut State University. He is the author of Regulating the National Pastime: Baseball and Antitrust and has published articles and book chapters on campaign finance reform, political parties, Massachusetts politics and political culture, public opinion, and political socialization. Professor Duquette lives in Longmeadow, MA with his wife and four children.
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