The convincing win of Republican candidate Scott Brown in yesterday’s special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy is being attributed to many factors — a weak economy, anti-incumbent populism, Obamacare, etc. But Brown’s campaign manager has his own explanation. He says the “single most potent” issue working for the candidate was a widespread perception that terror suspects are being treated too kindly, and given too many of the benefits of a democracy (like free legal counsel and civil trials).
Apparently many voters in Massachusetts feel, as Brown remarked at his victory party last night, that the U.S. Constitution exists to protect the rights of people “here,” not when they perpetrate acts of violence against Americans overseas. While nobody is discounting the other factors that put together a winning majority for Brown, treatment of terrorists looks to be one of those emotional issues — like gun ownership or abortion — that matters so much to people that they will turn out and vote even though it’s a special election in the dead of winter.
Anybody who drives I-95 north of New York will notice how often the overpasses have been decorated with American flags. The practice is more prevalent in New England than other places. Some Democrats in Washington may have confused the liberal leanings of the region with lack of support for the global war on terror. But the fact of the matter is that Massachusetts and the rest of the region is full of veterans who would like nothing better than to be the person who puts a bullet in Osama bin Laden’s skull. Scott Brown, who vocally endorsed the use of waterboarding on terror suspects during the campaign, understood that dynamic; many Democrats did not.
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