This is the column wherein I eat my hat. I promised to do this if Martha Coakley was beaten, given that I thought no Democratic contender in a million years could ever lose Ted Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts.

Hell, I thought the Boston Strangler could have won his seat if he ran as a Democrat.

Martha is probably the worst candidate for Senate office since that Irish guy who beat his wife ran against Barack Obama in Illinois for the senate seat. This is a woman who went to sleep after her primary victory, and whose campaign couldn't even spell the name of her own state right in advertisements. She thought Red Sox legend Curt Schilling was a Yankees fan. What could be a bigger insult than that?

Still, I thought she would win. Defeat sounded as absurd to me as if Jesse Helms had lost his seat down south to a Democrat a few years back. Somewhere in the great political blue yonder, Ted Kennedy, Tip O'Neill and John F. Kennedy are rubbing their eyes in disbelief, turning to old Joe Kennedy and saying "A Republican takes a Kennedy seat. Say it ain't so, Joe."

Back in 1994, I was on the campaign trail covering Teddy when he was running against Mitt Romney in what turned out to be a close race. I had never spent time with a politician like him. Everywhere we went he knew everybody from bellhops to bank mangers, from plumbers to small-town politicians.

It was a political education to me in how Massachusetts politics worked. It is retail politics first, and it's about humility, asking for every vote. As Tip O'Neill said you have to ask for that vote, even if it is your brother. Coakley clearly never learned that lesson. She even refused to campaign outside a Red Sox game and sneered at Brown for doing so.

A week is a long time in politics, 12 months an eternity. One year ago, President Obama swept into power in Washington and all was changed. If you said at the time that Ted Kennedy's seat would go Republican within the year, you would have been laughed off the stage. Obama had just won Massachusetts by 26 points.

Politics ain't beanbag, and Obama has learned a very tough lesson. The Republicans have not gone away, you know. In this year's version of deal or no deal, the voters in Massachusetts have clearly said "No Deal."

Now where's that pork-pie hat I had?

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