Is Martha Coakley a Manchurian candidate? 

You’ve probably already seen the report of Weekly Standard writer John McCormack on how he was pushed to the sidewalk outside a Washington fundraiser by a Coakley aide who, it appears, was Michael Meehan, a longtime aide to and spokesman for Democratic candidates and officeholders. The Associated Press, fronting for the Coakley campaign, has a different take: McCormack stumbled and Meehan tried to help him get up. Take a look at the photo and video in McCormack’s posts and see who you believe—the reporter who was actually there or the reporter who evidently talked to his pal Meehan on the phone.

The photo makes it pretty clear that Martha Coakley, the Attorney General of Massachusetts, witnessed an assault and battery and didn’t lift a finger to stop it, as law professor William Jacobson notes. I tend to agree with Boston radio talk host Michael Graham, who sees this incident—and the photo—as a game-changer. Coakley, who took much of the month of December off and whose campaign didn’t even bother to run TV ads last week, seems to feel entitled to the Senate seat. After all, she’s the Democratic nominee, isn’t she? She’s going to vote whatever way the Democratic leadership tells her to, isn’t she? And if little people get in the way, like the mild-mannered John McCormack, well, they just have to be taken out of the picture.

You can get an idea of Coakley’s mindset from McCormack’s account of the Q & A just before he was jostled to the ground:

After taking a question from a CNN reporter on the street outside the restaurant, I asked her:

TWS: Attorney General Coakley, you said last night that there are no terrorists in Afghanistan--that they're all in Yemen and Pakistan. Do you stand by that remark?

COAKLEY: I'm sorry, did someone else have a question?

GRIFF JENKINS, Fox News: I did. Why are you in Washington tonight?

COAKLEY: We planned an event after the primary that would be a unity event in Washington. We're also in the middle of a very intense campaign [...]

After Coakley finished her answer, she began walking away from the restaurant, and I walked behind her asking why health care industry lobbyists were supporting her at the fundraiser. She didn't reply.

Translation into English: Get out of my way, you little right-wing worm, I’m the candidate of the party of the people, and I’m not going to answer any gosh-darned questions that might embarrass me or harm my candidacy. If you’re shoved to the sidewalk, you’re only getting what’s coming to you.

The Examiner’s Tim Carney has done yeoman work in highlighting the health care lobbyists who raised $10,000 each for Coakley at the fundraiser last night at the Washington wine bar Sonoma, and the Massachusetts Republican party has picked up on this in a terrific ad pointing out the contrast between Coakley’s rote attacks on lobbyists and her support for them.

All of which raises a question in my mind. Who thought it was a good idea for Coakley to have a laughably light campaign schedule for weeks and then to leave Massachusetts to raise money from health care lobbyists in a fundraiser, er, “unity event,” in a Washington wine bar? You’d think they would at least schedule it for one of the Irish pubs around Capitol Hill. Who left the candidate utterly unequipped to respond to a question about her assertion in the campaign’s one televised debate that there were no terrorists left in Afghanistan? Charles Krauthammer did a better job covering for her in his commentary on Fox News Channel’s Special Report than Coakley did herself (“does someone else have a question?”). Who thought it was a good idea for Coakley to stand by watching and not apologizing while Michael Meehan, perhaps inadvertently, shoved a reporter to the ground? I’ve known Michael Meehan for years (he was the John Kerry spokesman who in summer 2004 declared inoperative Kerry’s oft-repeated claims, “seared, seared” in his memory, that he was in Cambodia in Christmastime 1968), and found him to be pleasant and affable; he’s a big guy but not, in my experience anyway, a thug.

The thought occurs to me that if Republican Scott Brown wins this election—and every day his chances look better—Democrats might conclude that Martha Coakley was a Republican plant, a Manchurian candidate inserted into the race in order to deprive Democrats of their 60th vote in the Senate.

Seriously, Martha Coakley embodies the elitist sense of entitlement that seems to reign in today’s Democratic party. Scott Brown struck just the right chord when David Gergen asked him how he could vote against the Democrats’ health care bill from Ted Kennedy’s seat in the Senate. “It’s not the Kennedys’ seat, it’s not the Democrats’ seat, it’s the people’s seat.”

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