David Weprin, Get Ready to Get Coakley'd!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 13 2011 11:34 AM

David Weprin, Get Ready to Get Coakley'd!

Barring a turnout miracle, Democrats are probably going to fumble away New York's 9th district today, handing a win to Republican Bob Turner, a 70-year-old former TV executive who was the party's sacrificial lamb in 2010. In a very meta mood, Marc Ambinder says the White House is expecting to spin a loss, which it's gotten rather used to. Remember the well-placed anecdote in Jon Alter's book, about Obama shaking with rage when he heard that Martha Coakley had derided the idea of campaigning outside Fenway, in the cold?

Ambinder downloads the spin:

Polling lurched in Turner’s direction late August when Weprin, in an interview with the New York Daily News editorial board, underestimated the size of the national debt by $10 trillion, suggesting he was ignorant about the main issue of the day. Then he dropped out of a debate, citing a hurricane that had already passed through the district.

Hang on: That's what made him a bad candidate? That's when the race turned? I spot a causation/cause fallacy, because there's no evidence that bobbling one question about the size of the debt (Weprin said $4 trillion) and skipping one debate -- in a campaign surfeited with debates -- did Weprin in. Coakley fumbled all over the place, refusing the match Scott Brown's campaign trail hustle, saying Catholic hospitals should be forced to allow procedures that they disagreed with morally, saying there were no terrorists in Afghanistan. By contrast, Weprin's a mumbly legacy politican, but he's been everywhere, and he hasn't made any issue gaffes. The campaign's biggest stumble, arguably, was a DCCC ad that used a tone-deaf cartoon of a plane flying past Manhattan, meant to symbolize Turner's wealth and love of tax loopholes, accidentally looking like a 9/11 sequel. Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind, endorsing Turner, made hay out of this:

Screen shot 2011-09-13 at 11.12.58 AM

Still, that was one bad ad that ran a few times as people tucked in for Shabbas or headed out for the weekend. The first on-the-record comment we have from the White House is this word salad from Jay Carney:

I don’t know what the polls show in that race. Obviously, special elections, small turnout, circumstances involving why the special election is taking place all have an impact on races like that. I will simply point you to a statement that the prime minister of Israel made just the other day about the historic level of assistance and cooperation and friendship that President Barack Obama has shown Israel. And I think that answers the question.

Got it? The election doesn't matter, but hint, hint, voters there are going to send a message about Israel that will be totally wrong, because the election doesn't matter. The voters were misled on Israel, possibly because Weprin fumbled the election. This is the spin to expect.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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