I read this article about Senator Scott Brown today that reinforced some educated hunches I have about him.
Evidently the “Tea Party Express” tour stopped in Boston, MA today and Brown, who the Tea Party supporters go out of their way to say they elected, was conspicuously not there. In Boston no less, the home of the “original” tea party, which persons would say presents every opportunity for Sen. Brown to enjoy the adulation of the crowd and prove his conservative commitment….yet he didn’t show.
Official release from a spokesperson,
“While he is unable to attend Wednesday’s event, the senator appreciates the strong grassroots support he received from a wide range of individuals, including those who are part of the tea party movement. He hopes they have a successful event,” spokesman Colin Reed said in a statement.
Translation: “We don’t want to fully identify with these people because we find them polarizing and Senator Brown is not arch-conservative like them, even though they cast him in that light during the campaign for the seat.”
Brown’s senatorial victory on January 19th was hailed across the country as a referendum on Pres. Obama’s policy initiatives, with persons variously saying “The people have spoken,” and “Obama better watch out!” But I had a sneaking sense throughout Brown’s campaign against Martha Coakley to replace Ted Kennedy that his momentum and eventual victory had very little to do with Barack Obama and very much to do with Martha Coakley and Scott Brown.
First of all, Coakley campaigned as if she “knew” the election was a rubber-stamp for her obvious accession to the Seat. Coakley famously said in response to challenges she was being to passive in her campaign, “As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?” That ridiculous comment (You’re in Boston, Martha, not Miami), together with commenting that Curt Schilling was a Yankee fan (again, he of the famous bloody sock forever enthroned in Red Sox lore), combined with long stretches of non-campaigning, to show a woman out of touch with the people she was claiming to represent.
Her opponent, Scott Brown instead worked his butt to the bone to win Massachusetts voters. He did shake hands at Fenway Park in the cold, he did drive his personal truck all over the state, he did shake hands, kiss babies, make speeches, and get his agenda and his aspirations out there, Coakley didn’t, and he beat her. The combination of Coakley’s blahness and Brown’s commitment was striking, and I think Massachusetts voters saw that.
What is another reason I find the election to be less about Obama and more about Brown? Brown’s proven political positions. As conservative commentator Kathleen Parker commented in the Washington Post,
In any case, Brown’s more compelling package concerns issues, his positions on which are not so easily categorized along party lines. He supports a woman’s right to choose, for instance, though he opposes partial-birth abortion and federal funding for abortion and believes in strong parental notification laws. He opposes same-sex marriage but believes the decision should be left to states. He would not vote to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act but does not favor a federal constitutional amendment declaring marriage as between a man and a woman.
On fiscal matters, he favors tax cuts, opposes the current government expansion and would oppose a second stimulus bill. He has praised President Obama for both his decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan as well as taking his time arriving at that decision. He criticized the president for being “too slow” in responding to the panty-bomber and thinks we should treat terrorists as war criminals, trying them in military courts.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t recall conservatives panting from their screams that Obama’s “agenda was rejected” ever mentioning that Brown was pro-choice by their absolute standards. I don’t recall them discussing that Brown isn’t hell-bent on constitutional amendments against homosexual marriage. And those are the two massive issues that most arch-conservatives can’t get past to see the rest of someone’s politics.
Brown since has gone out of his way to praise Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator John Kerry in their work with him on the jobs bill that he supported with a slew of Democrats. Someone seeking to self-identify with the tea partiers would know that ANY positive comment about Harry Reid would earn them a tarring and feathering by tea partiers. And in response to comments by some that he was either a liberal, conservative, or moderate Republican, he responded, “I’m a Scott Brown Republican.”
I’m more and more convinced Scott Brown is a better, more wiser politician than pundits would like to paint him as. He doesn’t fit the labels perfectly, he thinks for himself, he is willing to break party lines early in his term instead of being McConnell’s yes man lapdog. Don’t reduce Brown to a “referendum on Barack Obama.” Let Brown speak for himself.
Kudos to Brown for holding Tea Partiers at arm’s length. He doesn’t need their extremism to identify himself, and doesn’t need to smile and wave with their hero, Sarah Palin, on his side for a good photo op and conservative check-in-the-box. You go, Scott Brown.