Monday, March 19, 2012


Scott Brown is likely to win the Senate race in Massachusetts -- sorry, I wish that weren't true, but it is -- because he has the political instincts to do something like this, which is pitched perfectly for the state I grew up in:

Sen. Scott Brown joked at a St. Patrick's Day [breakfast] that Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum's secret service detail may be the first time he's ever "used protection."

"I'm hopeful that all of you are actually following presidential politics. I see that both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum now have secret service with them on the campaign trail and in Santorum's case, I think it's the first time he's actually ever used protection, so yeah, yeah. Just saying," Brown said.

(Video below, BuzzFeed.)

Brown's not Catholic, but he knows Massachusetts Catholics. He knows the overwhelming majority of them aren't going to be offended by that -- they're going to find it hilarious.

Brown is likely to win because the Koch-ocracy is going to spend whatever it takes to keep Elizabeth Warren out of the Senate, not just because of who she is, but because you don't want voters in the rest of the country to start getting any funny ideas about economic justice. But he's also likely to win because he's an extremely skilled needle-threader. Here's Brown saying that a federal ban on Planned Parenthood funding goes too far. On the other hand, here's Brown supporting employer health care "conscience clauses." On the other other hand, here's Brown advocating renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, even as much of his party tries to block it. I wish this Snowe/Collins-ism made him look unprincipled like Mitt Romney, but, well, it really makes him look like the kinds of moderate Republicans Massachusetts voters regularly elect as governors, if not as members of Congress (until he came along), which means it makes him look like, well, the old Mitt Romney, the one Massachusetts voters elected.

He's also likely to win because, even now, the only kind of class consciousness most Americans have -- even in deep blue states -- is the kind that makes them hate "elites" who are identified as such by their liberalism. So, at the breakfast -- which is an annual event and is always a roast of sorts -- Brown took a swipe at Warren for "elitism":

Brown used his time at the lectern to cast Warren as a lofty academic who's out of touch with ordinary voters.

He joked that he recently counseled Warren that "people view you as an elite." Warren, he said, replied, "I bet you a bottle of Dom Perignon that's not true."

And Warren ... well, she took a shot at herself for the same thing:

Warren -- the consumer champion and Harvard professor whom the Brown campaign has cast as an Ivy League liberal -- poked fun at herself as diners polished off plates of scrambled eggs and corned beef hash. She said she's often asked why she wants to serve in the Senate, given that it's "filled with enormous egos" and "nothing gets done."

"I always say, 'Hey, I worked at Harvard. I'll feel right at home,'" she said.

I'd love to think that rage at the status quo will hurt Brown, but I just don't see it. Warren is on the defensive about "elitism"; Brown isn't on the defensive about much of anything. Warren is hurt by the fact that the Obama administration has muddied the Democratic message (and that's putting it mildly) with relentless Goldman Sachs-o-philia. And, ultimately, even in the bluest states, only a tiny percentage of Americans genuinely understand their own economic interests, and who their real enemies are.

And, of course, any moderation Brown exhibits in the Senate is more than offset by his usefulness to the party as, quite possibly, a majority-maker after the 2012 elections. He may not be a wingnut, but he enables wingnuts.


: smintheus :: said...

Warren can run against the status quo, which is the big winner in this election, and to the extent that voters identify it with Democrats she has the track record to run against some Democratic policies especially re Wall Street. Brown will have a lot harder time running against what he now is closely tied to.

Warren doesn't come across as 'elitist', and she has a far better bootstraps life story than Brown. She has also spent the last decade or more campaigning for ordinary people, whereas Brown won't want voters to know about the crazy things he was campaigning for in his years in the MA legislature.

Steve M. said...

Warren doesn't come across as 'elitist'

In my experience, you're an "elitist" if Fox and talk radio flood the zone with people saying you are. It'll be nice if that's changed, but so far I see no evidence that it has.

BH said...

Being from the other end of the country, I'm not very qualified to form an opinion about a Mass election; however, I had doubts about Warren's prospects from the git-go. Between being a transplanted Okie, a woman, & a Harvard prof with no previous electoral experience, IMO she had some sizable potential weaknesses compared (perhaps) to a local pol with some campaigns under her/his belt... like, e.g., Scott Brown.

lovable liberal said...

EW is very engaging personally and has made rapid strides toward shortening her answers to non-professorial length. I think the Democrats had no one else with enough celebrity and personality, so I was eager for her to get into the race. Gov. Deval Patrick wasn't going to do it, and the best local options were fine a people but not ready for a Senate race.

Whether the super-PAC billionaires nationalize this election or not, we should. A key fact is that a vote for Scott Brown is a vote for Mitch McConnell and the entire Limbaugh-obeying retrograde Teapublican agenda.

We also have a GOTV operation in Massachusetts that was worth 5 points in 2010. Since more people vote in a Presidential election anyway, it may or may not be worth that much in 2012, but it's what kept Mass. so blue in defiance of the teabaggers.