Democrats hit the panic button in Massachusetts 

Democrats must really be worried about the Massachusetts special election. The DNC dispatched partisan fire-breather Hari Sevugan to help with Martha Coakley's communications strategy. Coakley's in trouble because the Democratic health care bill is unpopular in Massachusetts, Democratic incumbent governor Deval Patrick is a flop, and the unemployment rate is at 8.8 percent.

The rule in politics is to change the subject when your campaign is in trouble. Sure enough, Sevugan wasted no time spilling ink in a desperate attempt to link Republican Scott Brown to Sarah Palin. In last night's debate, Coakley acted as though Brown were just a stand in for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. And a harsh new Coakley ad tried to connect Brown to Rush Limbaugh--before everyone noticed the campaign had misspelled Massachusetts in the text.

Sevugan's latest hyperpartisan missive says Brown has "made a deal with the devil" by embracing Tea Party principles of low government spending and taxation. The folks concerned about deficits, debt, regulations, spending, and taxes are "extremists" and "radicals," Sevugan says. He tries to tie Brown to Karl Rove, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and--this is not a joke--the Willie Horton campaign ad from twenty years ago. It's a haunted house of Republican goblins.

Once upon a time, Democratic scare tactics were tied to policy--Don't vote for candidate x, he'll cut Social Security and Medicare! But those were the good old days, I suppose. In the Massachusetts special election, the Coakley campaign wants to frighten Democrats into voting through a simple Pavlovian response. Every time we mention Palin, the campaign strategists must think, we'll frighten another liberal into pulling the lever for Coakley.

Democrats have shown what they think of public opinion by muscling through a $2.5 trillion health bill despite public disapproval. But do Democrats really believe their own supporters are foolish enough to fall for such transparent, elementary-school-level scare tactics?

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