Thursday, January 21, 2010
long before tip o'neill delivered his famous political apercu, "all politics is local," i had bobo. to bobo's lifelong shame, he lost his only public political battle when i was 5yo for escambia county commission. he'd been appointed to fill a vacancy in the commission by the governor, ferris bryant. he used to say that he assumed he'd have no problem since he had the backing of the governor & the state & local democratic party. the only thing i remember about this campaign is that we were on channel 3 as a family. bobo introduced us individually & i raised my name when he said my name. we'd rehearsed this. his opponent was there too w/his family. that's how they did things back then. the only other thing i remember was a local lawyer there in the tv studio. he was supposed to be meeting the incumbent state representative for debate. the incumbent hadn't bothered to show up. after we were on, bobo wanted us to stay around & watch what the lawyer would do. his name was ruben askew & in 15 years, he was governor of florida & soon after a candidate for president.
that night, askew used the incumbent's arrogant absence to define him & the race he was running. he never looked back.
bobo was an old-school politician who believed in the handshake & the fish-fry. he used to say find out where you're strong & have your fish-fry in that neighborhood. find out where you're weak & go door to door, handshaking & back-slapping in that neighborhood. none of the candidates that bobo advised ever lost an election in escambia county.
it's been said that martha coakley would rather have eaten ground glass than campaign. she's a career lawyer & no politician. she made very little effort to change that & she lost ignominiously. she let down her president, her party, & history. if bobo had been there, he'd have told her to have a fish fry or two.
was this a set back for obama? yes. was it a disaster? i don't think so. what this was NOT was a referendum on obama. the obama presidency may be shaky right now but a single loss like this isn't the end of the world. had massachusetts been as blue a state as the media misrepresented it to be(in fact, 50% of registered voters are independents), had this been teddy kennedy & not a pretender to the crown, had this been during a regular & not a special election, then the frothing mad-dog media pundits might have something to carry on about. i would like to think that it might re-invigorate the obama administration. presidents have done a whole lot more w/a whole lot less. it's time for the smartest guys in the room to prove it or leave & be replaced by someone less smart maybe but more effective. tip o'neill didn't seem to be that smart but he went head to head w/reagan & his gang & held his own. he was an effective politician, maybe as good as lyndon johnson.
i believe that politics IS local &, if you don't get the local, you have no clue about the global. in other words, get the fryer out & start shaking hands. otherwise, you can be the smartest person in the world but you ain't going nowhere.