Both Chase and Scott are pleasant, engaging individuals who would make solid state-legislative candidates. Neither seems destined to strike much fear in the heart of Kennedy supporters, however, or to create a stir among the GOP faithful. In fact, they’ll probably be lucky just to scrounge up the requisite number of signatures — 10,000 by May 2 — to get on the ballot.
In addition, both men are living proof that Kennedy hatred just isn’t what it used to be. At a recent Winchester Republican Town Committee breakfast, both candidates had a chance to sell themselves to the Republican grassroots. Chase went first: he strode to the front of the room, emphasized the need to support Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey in the upcoming gubernatorial campaign, and then hammered Kennedy for ... failing to end American dependence on foreign oil.
That’s right. “Today, we’re paying about $2.25 for 87 octane at the pump,” Chase told his baffled-looking audience. “The most powerful Democrat in the land is Ted Kennedy, and has been for 44 years. He has never lifted a finger to free us from Middle Eastern oil.”
It didn’t stop there. “We would not be in Iraq today, and we would not have gone into Kuwait back in 1991 [if not for oil]. There is a man who has had the ability and the obligation to do something about that, because with power comes the obligation to act. And that man is Ted Kennedy, and he has failed that test.”
Actually, President George W. Bush would seem to be the one man with the ability and the obligation to rectify these problems, but whatever. Chase’s statements left a great opening for Scott, who spoke next, to toss some red meat to the Republican faithful. Instead, the man from Wakefield began on a nonpartisan note, arguing that “common sense has been thrown out the window” in the current US Congress.
A bit later, after endorsing Steve Forbes’s flat-tax proposal, Scott turned his attention to Kennedy. His message: Kennedy is 1) “way out in left field”; 2) was mean during Samuel Alito’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings; and 3) should have done more to rein in Big Dig costs. It was point two that the crowd liked most. “Samuel Alito is absolutely a top-shelf human being,” Scott protested. “A great family man, a great scholar, an honest person. You do not treat people like that that way.” The ensuing applause was the loudest that either candidate received — maybe because it hinted, ever so delicately, at the same point that Kennedy haters used to make explicitly: Cut through the bullshit, and Ted Kennedy just isn’t a good person.
Old-timers weigh in
As anti-Kennedy animus goes the way of the dodo, Howie Carr — the Boston Herald columnist, WRKO-AM talking head, and best-selling author of The Brothers Bulger — is doing his utmost to keep that hate alive. In addition to hammering the senator in the Herald and on the AM airwaves, Carr is the self-described “curator” ofwww.FatBoy.cc, an online trove of all things anti-Kennedy.