Image counts for a lot in politics. One well-timed statement can turn an election. A gaffe can destroy a political career. Because Ronald Reagan explicitly refused to exploit for political purposes his opponent’s youth and inexperience, he prevented that Democrat from winning any state beyond his home state in their fall 1984 match-up.
Had George Allen not uttered a bizarre word whose meaning is unclear to most Virginians, he would still be representing that state in the Senate today. Scott Brown last night may well have made the statement that will allow him to serve in the house were Allen once served.
Yes, the people in the Bay State revere the Kennedy name, but they surely don’t revere it so much that, like the voice of the Beltway establishment, they believe a Senate seat belongs to a particular family. It’s not just that Scott Brown said that, it’s the way he said it.
This is not to say that I’m convinced he’s going to win one week from today, but that last night, he certainly increased his chances.