Downplaying Brown's Win: Newsweek's Stone Says It's Just a Washington Obsession

January 20th, 2010 6:28 PM

Move along folks, nothing to see here.

Is that the impression you're getting from some in the media regarding the results of yesterday's special election in Massachusetts?

That's definitely the one Newsweek's Daniel Stone wants to leave his readers.

From his The Gaggle blog post "Does Most of America Even Care About the Mass. Election?":

Washington government and media types like to joke about the Washington bubble and echo chamber, the phenomenon of things happening in Washington only really mattering in Washington. Although it’s really no joke. Stay in the district long enough and the discussion at every happy hour or dinner party you go to eventually gets to health care negotiations or Congress’ latest waltz with issue x. When one leaves DC, it can be shocking how little people talk about politics, or how an official’s gaffe or legislative slam dunk didn’t even register outside the bubble.

Take, to borrow a recent example, yesterday’s election in Massachusetts. Did the smackdown of all smackdowns for Democrats – what one politico called “the biggest political upset of my adult life” – permeate at all in small towns? The Davis Enterprise of Davis, California, your Gaggler’s local newspaper of record, says it ran a small AP wire story about the election on page A-2. Among top Google searches, Scott Brown’s name currently ranks 15th. Not shabby, except that “Survivor Palau” is number three.

There are undoubtedly more scientific ways to measure opinions, and I mean not to suggest that the Massachusetts race was an isolated affair. But the fact that the GOP upset in the Bay State seems to have merely skimmed the surface of much of the nation's consciousness rather than seismically shift the continent might be the biggest lesson worth taking from Tuesday's events. For the most part, people don’t spend their days thinking about election fights, upsets and partisan victory laps. Those things are more the problem. They care about their jobs and their families and their paychecks. Or as my editor once wrote: "protect my job, let me keep my money, and kill the terrorists." If someone in Washington could help alleviate almost 30 percent unemployment in a place like El Centro, California, would people notice? You bet. It might even make the front page.

True, most Americans may not care, but "most Americans" are not the voter pool for the midterm elections. What's more, Brown's victory shows that even in liberal Massachusetts, the notion that taxing and spending one's way to prosperity doesn't ring true with an electorate that has grown quickly skeptical of the bailouts and the ugly, corrupt sausage-making that has characterized the legislative process for ObamaCare.

While Stone may aim to minimize the gravity of Scott Brown's election to the Senate seat once held for decades by "liberal lion" Ted Kennedy, the impact on the nation's political landscape is dramatic, even if unnoticed by most Americans outside the Bay State.