Martha Coakley’s slap-shots fired at Fenway Park fans and devout Catholics, her vacation in the middle of a special election, her refusal to debate one-on-one, her D.C. lobbyist fundraiser, and her denial that she witnessed the subsequent assault on a reporter, all have people bewildered as to how Coakley could be so “tone deaf” (in the words of The Gail Collins).

But no one should be surprised. At the start of the primary season, Coakley was so tone deaf as to start her campaign for the seat before Ted Kennedy died, causing allegations that Coakley had shown disrespect for Teddy (video also available here):

I have detailed Coakley’s possible election law violations previously. Coakley ran a barely stealth campaign operation as Teddy was on his death bed, using state campaign funds, so that Coakley could get a jump on her opponents in the primary race.

The optics were horrible. But there were no consequences for Coakley in the primary.

Now the consequences of Coakley’s tone deafness are clear. A race which should have been a romp for Coakley given all the institutional factors in her favor has become too close to call, with the momentum clearly in Brown’s favor.

There are many reasons why this election is close. Near the top of that list is that while Teddy relished being among the voters, Coakley seems disconnected, dismissive, and yes, tone deaf.

Ted Kennedy, whether you loved him or hated him, was a figure larger than life. The lack of respect Coakley showed to Teddy with her stealth campaign and secret bank accounts was a harbinger of an attitude which may end up sinking her campaign.

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