The Burden of Being Scott Brown

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Tally up the recent polls in the Massachusetts Senate race and you’ll see that the incumbent is very popular. Tally up those same polls and you’ll also see that he’s losing. That is the beauty and the burden of being Scott Brown.

Brown, a rare northeastern Republican, faced Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren in their second debate Monday night, an awkward affair hosted by Meet the Press’ David Gregory. For all the talk of Warren’s debate chops–the Harvard law prof was a state champ in Oklahoma at the tender age of 16–there’s been no lopsided decisions in their sparring matches so far. “Warren, Brown, Round 2″ was all the Cape Cod Times’ frontpage editors could muster this morning, while The Patriot Ledger declared “Candidates Scuffle at Second Debate.” OK then.

But the debate wasn’t as boring as it might sound. Monday night’s most important moment came when Gregory asked Brown who his model Supreme Court Justice is. Here’s what happened next:

BROWN: Let me see here. That’s a great question. I think Justice Scalia is a very good judge. [Audience boos.] Justice Kennedy. [More booing.] Justin Kennedy is obviously very good, and also Justice Roberts they are… Justice Sotomayor, I think they’re very qualified people there, who actually do a very good job.

GREGORY: Scalia and Sotomayor don’t exactly…

BROWN: Well that’s the beauty of being an independent, David. You can actually…

GREGORY: If you had to pick one…

Brown: Listen, I don’t need to pick one. We have plenty of Justices up there and I’m proud of the ones we have.

The Warren campaign couldn’t have asked for a better set up. Brown wants to keep things local, nonpartisan, “independent,” as he said.  But the question simultaneously reminded voters of the national effects of the race and the party lines in Washington.

Warren has been attempting to nationalize the race–she hopes to ride President Obama’s coattails in a state he won by 26 points in 2008–and often mentions the future balance of the Supreme Court out on the trail. The court is especially slippery territory for Brown, a pro-choice moderate who nonetheless voted with his party to oppose the nomination of Elena Kagan (Warren’s former boss at Harvard whom the Dem chose as her model Justice during the debate) shortly after his arrival in Washington in 2010.  With all that hanging above his head, Brown froze and gave his farcical all-of-the-above-answer. This, as Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 White House bid (and the eternal wisdom of The Simpsons) has taught us, is the price a moderate Republican pays.

MORE: Special GOP Issue: Party of No

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Partha Neogy
Partha Neogy

"This, as Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 White House bid (and the eternal wisdom of

The Simpsons) has taught us, is the price a moderate Republican pays."

A moderate Republican?  I thought the species went extinct with the coming of the tea party.

MrObvious
MrObvious

The problem isn't that he's popular per say, it's that he's vapid. He's a rubber stamp. Place holder. There to squeeze palms, smile and say pretty things.

Boy Bib
Boy Bib

Brown....ugly on the INSIDE

Boy Bib
Boy Bib

NEVER allow Karl Rove's go go boy David Gregory to EVER moderate another debate. He cheated giving Brown TWICE the time....and Elizabeth STILL WON!

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

"...an awkward affair hosted by Meet the Press’ David Gregory."

So it was a repeat?

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

He tries hard.  But I miss Russert.

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

He's trying hard.... to make you miss Russert.... and I think it's working.

mjshep
mjshep

Citing Scalia first as your model Justice in state like MA while claiming to be an "Independent" moderate is like crying,"I'm a lying douche!  Don't believe anything I say." From there he goes off on his Sarah Palin imitation.  "What papers do I read, Charlie?  All of them."

Warren could scarcely believe her good luck and control her glee.

sacredh
sacredh

I know things can change in a hurry, but it's so nice not to be worrying if Obama is going to be re-elected. The right has been watching the Romney clown car swerve from one guard rail to another and hitting everything in between while we've been sitting on our porches yelling "you missed a rock back there'" and laughing. Now the down ticket races are getting affected. It's hard not to smile.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

How much advertising is Momney doing up there?  Has he chalked it up to a lost cause yet?

sacredh
sacredh

nfl, I'm not watching much tv until after the election but my wife says she sees more Obama commercials than Romney commercials. She says it's pretty close though.A friend that lives about 15 miles down river told me that there is an Obama sign and a Romney sign side by side on the hillside about a mile from his house and that it looks like somebody nailed them both with a shotgun. lol.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Then I guess Ritt has not thrown in the towel there yet.  Probably waiting until post-first debate.

sacredh
sacredh

A Brown loss would make the republican chances of a senate take over almost nil.

Pnnto
Pnnto

Having sat through two of these debate I am honestly surprised at how vapid (See SCOTUS question, refusal/inability to answer other questions) and nasty (native American stuff, "I'm not your student", his general tone) Brown comes across.

RoccoJohnson
RoccoJohnson

I think too much is made of a person who may not be able to spit out a decisive answer to a question they were caught off guard by. I'm a very analytical person and it often takes me some reflection before I can give one single answer like that. It is a character trait, not necessarily a flaw. 

I don't mind a politician who takes a moment to think before he answers, but in modern politics this is derided as a weakness. In this case Gregory, Warren and the boorish audience had practically started scoffing before he even answered the question. This is a hallmark of the unintelligent and non-objective.

sandrajeanford
sandrajeanford

BS!  He  took his time, repeated the question...THEN named Scalia.  Sure hopes that gives Warren a nice boost.

rickterp
rickterp

The stunning thing is that polls continue to show voters overwhelmingly identify Brown as running a positive campaign -- and Warren a negative one. As near as I can tell, no one is actually watching these debates.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Brown - proud graduate of the Blimp Blimpie School of Charm.

carotexas
carotexas

I am glad that someone else saw the same things I did watching both debates.

filmnoia
filmnoia

Brown made a fool of himself last night. MA has a lot of very bright people, but Scotty Boy isn't one of them. He also has a tough time with women. I saw the clip last night of his 2010 victory speech and he was pimping for his two daughters. A really embarrassing video.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

Yes. I had forgotten about that. It was dreadful, not to mention very sexist.

John W Warren
John W Warren

Warren (no clear relationship) may have been a champion debater, but it is a sad comment on both the American people and their educational system that people think that what is happening on television is a debate.  A debate is the intellectual equivalent of a boxing match.  What we have here is dueling commercials.

jmac
jmac

If Brown mentioning Scalia as his favorite judge is a commercial, I hope he didn't pay much for the ad.   It might have been a knockout punch in a boxing match as blue collar women move toward Obama and the Supreme Court looms large.  Warren should be running a national campaign - the Court matters and Massachusetts has voters that pay attention - it's not Mississippi.   

jmac
jmac

Scalia has so lost touch with America that even Court followers who usually temper their comments say he's gone off the deep end by becoming, as Jeffrey Toobin notes,  "fixated on politics."  Recalling a fight in the Senate on health care when that provision was not in the health care bill didn't help.   Toobin also quotes O'Connor in a discussion with Souter about leaving the court - "What makes this harder is that it's my party that's destroying the country."   Indeed, when a  Chief Justice has to twist himself in a knot to say American can have universal health care, the Federalist on the court have gone too far.  

Kevin Groenhagen
Kevin Groenhagen

"The court is especially slippery territory for Brown, a pro-choice

moderate who nonetheless voted with his party to oppose the nomination

of Elena Kagan (Warren’s former boss at Harvard whom the Dem chose as

her model Justice during the debate)..."

In the real world, citing Kagan as a role model would be an automatic disqualification. But we're talking about a state that continual sent the degenerate Ted Kennedy to the Senate every six years.

MomentoMori
MomentoMori

"In the real world", Massachusetts ranks as one of the top states by almost any measure - education, GDP, quality of life. "In the real world", even Forbes has Massachusetts as the 8th best sate to live in.*

For a state that you despise so fervently, Groeny, and one that is run by Democrats, why is it doing better than most red states?

The numbers:

Well-Being Index National Rank: 8/50

Life Evaluation National Rank: 15/50

Work Quality National Rank: 23/50

Basic Access National Rank: 1/50

Healthy Behavior National Rank: 17/50

Physical Health National Rank: 15/50

Emotional Health National Rank: 33/50

http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/...

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Kennedy's deceased, Mr. Real Name.  You can stop beating him.

Why is Justice Kagan not a role model in your opinion?  Do you think she's less qualified than, say, Thomas? 

mjshep
mjshep

That's a trick question.  It's (almost) impossible to be less qualified than Thomas.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

I know, right? Let's not forget Massachusetts also elected that chowderhead, Willard Romney.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

Don't you love how Kevin finds it within his power to write off an entire state?  How he seems to think their opinion doesn't matter just because it conflicts with his own?

filmnoia
filmnoia

He just doesn't like smart Jewish women. His fellow Kansan, Rev. Fred Phelps is more his speed.

anon76returns
anon76returns

He doesn't just write it off, he pretends it doesn't exist within reality.  It's kind of like Clint's invisible Obama.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

I wouldn't tell him to do that to himself.....

outsider2011
outsider2011

Citing the judge you don't like is an automatic disqualification?

Why do you have such a hard time with people who don't agree with you, Groeny?

Kagan was very accomplished before her nomination and was approved - are you presuming that you know more than everyone else?

I can understand not agreeing with her. I cannot understand needing to disparage her because you don't agree with her views.

Scott Brown tried to run as a Repub, while running away from being a repub because of the current state of the party.

It would be difficult for him to mount any kind of campaign under these conditions.

Choosing the two judges he did just illustrates his trying to have it both ways. 

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

...and illustrates why Brown's loozin'.

Tero1
Tero1

Still whining about Ted Kennedy? Get over it old timer. You need to let things go.

BTW still pretending to be a marine?

YOU ARE A FRAUD!