The Democrats’ tragedy of Greek proportions

Liberal pundits are proclaiming doom and apocalypse at the prospect of Kennedy’s seat in the Senate going to a Massachusetts Republican, even before the election and the bitter news. So reports

For the pundits on MSNBC and the liberal blogosphere, the prospect of a Scott Brown victory in the Massachusetts Senate race has provoked the kind of doomsday rhetoric not heard since a certain Texan was president.

Liberal talker Ed Schultz recently told radio listeners that if he lived in Massachusetts he’d try to vote 10 times, claiming that he’d “cheat to keep these bastards out.”

Conservatives howled that the MSNBC host was inciting voter fraud, so Schultz apologized on the air Monday — well, sort of.

“I misspoke on Friday. I'm sorry, I'm sorry,” Schultz said. “I meant to say, if I could vote 20 times, that's what I'd do.”

“Let me be very clear,” Schultz said a few minutes later. “I'm not advocating voter fraud, I'm just telling you what I would do. That's how bad I want Scott Brown to lose!”

Atlantic senior editor Andrew Sullivan described the election on his blog as “a nihilist moment, built from a nihilist strategy in order to regain power … to do nothing but wage war against enemies at home and abroad.”

Sullivan, a longtime conservative who announced he was leaving “the right” last month, concluded Monday that “Democrats can stop hoping at this point” and predicted a double-digit victory for Brown.

“What comes next will be a real test for [President Barack] Obama,” Sullivan continued. “I suspect serious health insurance reform is over for yet another generation.”

Other pundits have had their own grand pronouncements on the possibility of Democrat Martha Coakley losing the seat once held by Ted Kennedy: “Good Morning America” host George Stephanopoulos —who once worked for someone dubbed the “Comeback Kid” — wrote on his blog Tuesday that a Brown victory “would certainly be the biggest political upset I have seen in my career.” PBS’s Judy Woodruff, quoting someone from the White House, described the situation on ABC’s “This Week” as “a tragedy of Greek proportions if Ted Kennedy's successor is the one … who was responsible for the death of health care.”

If it’s a Greek tragedy (as my former students should know), it involves a hero with a tragic flaw, generally a type of pride known as hubris, which brings his catastrophe upon himself. Who would be the tragic hero here, what is the tragic flaw, and how was he responsible for the catastrophe?