That the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy lost to the Republican non-entity Scott Brown is a moment of reckoning for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The current discontents do not explain this staggering defeat. Tea-baggers, disgruntled independents, an electorate made weary and confused by the health-care debate, the unemployed pissed-off, anti-establishment nay-sayers—add it all up and you still don’t have the explanation for what happened. The short of it is that the most liberal state in the nation (“Don’t blame me,” we crowed when we alone went for George McGovern in 1972, “I’m from Massachusetts”) practices the politics of misogyny. When it comes to positions of real power, no women need apply. Martha Coakley was croaked by an electorate that could not get past her gender…

Now the wise guys say that Coakley blew it. A distinguished attorney general, and the victor in a hard-fought primary against formidable opponents, she lost the general election to the lightest of lightweights, the centerfold Scott Brown. For weeks, the press had unloaded on Coakley (inconsistent on the death penalty? Flip-flop on the health-rights bill? Isn’t her net worth awfully low?); over the course of the same weeks, the press had given Brown a pass. That he was elected only proves the point: No one knows diddly about this guy. About Coakley, meanwhile, everyone “knows” what happened. She “didn’t want it enough,” “didn’t work hard,” “didn’t ask,” “didn’t talk up Ted Kennedy.” Wrapping herself at the end in the double aura of Clinton-Obama, they say, only diminished her. Or made her seem too much of the club. Damned if she did. Damned if she didn’t. Anyway, she was sort of cold, don’t you think?