Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

April 20, 2010

WHAT TO DO ABOUT BROWN.... We talked yesterday about Sen. Scott Brown's (R-Mass.) latest interview, in which the senator was not only rambling and borderline-incoherent, but also claimed that Democrats refuse to focus on job creation -- a claim which is clearly false.

Soon after publishing the item, I received a thoughtful note from a regular reader, P.H., who had some concerns about the general approach. I'm re-publishing the entirety of P.H.'s note with permission:

"You know I love this column, but I think this particular character study may be counterproductive. I agree that reading his response to a direct question is like drinking curdled milk, but people like the guy. I read the profile in the NYT Magazine and I like the guy. He's sort of a goofball and he seems to be a good dad. He's not Einstein, but he's not Eric Cantor either. But I think the point is, to me, is that he's someone who can be won over and he's also someone who, regardless of what he says, has been an asset to the Democrats. So, I'm just saying...it's not worth alienating him." [ellipses in the original]

I really do understand this point of view. Much in the same way many Americans "wanted to have a beer" with George W. Bush, Scott Brown seems like a good guy. If one were throwing a backyard barbecue, Brown would probably make a fun guest. If I were choosing a Republican senator to be my neighbor, and help out with this year's July 4th festivities, Brown would probably be high on the list.

But to my mind, that makes scrutiny of his, shall we say, "shortcomings" all the more important. When Scott Brown trashes Democratic job-creation efforts with dishonest talking points he doesn't even seem to understand, for example, the casual voter might be inclined to believe him. After all, he seems like a good guy, right? Why would the handsome, likable guy lie? If he says Dems are ignoring the need for more jobs, maybe Dems really are.

Except, Dems really aren't. Brown doesn't know what he's talking about, but that doesn't stop him from saying things that aren't true.

Of course, it's not just the jobs agenda. Brown has, in his very brief tenure, repeatedly made ridiculous, and at times even insulting, claims about everything from health care reform to Wall Street reform. Just yesterday, yet another one of his patently false arguments was exposed as an unsupported sham.

If I had to guess -- and this is purely speculative -- I'd say Brown is more a fool than a liar. He's demonstrated repeatedly that he doesn't really understand any area of public policy with any proficiency, so his bogus claims are likely the result of ignorance, not mendacity.

But much of the public probably doesn't appreciate the difference, and may be inclined to take his arguments seriously because "people like the guy."

In theory, P.H. is right, and Brown can play a constructive role, occasionally breaking with his far-right party. But if he insists on saying idiotic things that aren't true, it's more important, not less, to call him on it, given the apparent credibility that comes with his personable qualities.

Steve Benen 10:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

individual north late last australia sunlight

Posted by: raynordleh on April 20, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

did you say "Brown would probably be high" ? no wonder he rambles somewhat incoherently!

Posted by: bdbd on April 20, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

I agree, Steve. Brown is probably more of a "get" than any GOP Senator (with the possible exception of Snowe), but his obfuscations shouldn't be allowed to stand -- otherwise, they quickly gel into "truth."

On a related note, who's the Scott Brown or GWB of the Democratic party? You know, that affable white guy the pundits would like to have a beer with? I'm a political junkie and I can't seem to answer that one.

Posted by: BrklynLibrul on April 20, 2010 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

It's clear to me that he is basically proving the Peter Principle -- rising to his level of incompetence -- and now he's stuck on stage. It reminds me of both The Actor's Nightmare where some poor schlub finds himself on stage in a series of plays that he hasn't rehearsed for, and Being There, the classic film with Peter Sellers as the genial Chauncey Gardner who finds himself revered regardless of whatever he says.

My guess is that whoever talked Scott Brown into running for the Senate figured, hey, it's Massachusetts, it's Ted Kennedy's seat, he'll get slaughtered in the election. They weren't counting on him actually, y'know, winning.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on April 20, 2010 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe I'm being harsh, but I tend to expect more of a U.S. Senator than a goofball who's a good dad. A nominal understanding of issues and policy would be a bare minimum.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on April 20, 2010 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Liberals are opposed to Scott Brown because he has called out Rachel Maddow for considering running for Senate.

Posted by: Al on April 20, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

"affable white guy the pundits would like to have a beer with?"

We here in NC had one of those one time.....and hope to not have another one on our hands any time soon. There is a wonderful woman who has been elected to statewide office several times, who is intelligent and articulate, who many of us hope will be the smart answer to young, charismatic and handsome. Even the Charlotte Observer endorsed Elaine Marshall!

Posted by: withay on April 20, 2010 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Soo..... We should be concerned that the people that created this mess might lose there job due to reform! That is a real winner!

Posted by: mat1492 on April 20, 2010 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Her?
"call him on it, given the apparent credibility that comes with her personable qualities."

Posted by: mygn Schultz on April 20, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

"But if he insists on saying idiotic things that aren't true, it's more important, not less, to call him on it, given the apparent credibility that comes with her personable qualities."

I think you meant "his personable qualities" and not her - maybe was thinking of that other sham half term govenor?

Regarding Brown, you are absolutely correct, with the right seeing him as the "referrendum" on the administration with his win in Mass, his words and actions have meaning beyond the backyard bar-b-que. He may be nice to have a beer with and share some fun, but he's not one to look to for intellectual honesty and factual information. As we can tell by his dishonesty in the Rachel Maddow call out. She is not now nor has she ever indicated she is/was/or have considered running for the senate anywhere except in Brown's tiny universe and those who continue to believe the lie even after debunking. That's why it is so important to call out all the lies when they happen instead of letting them build up steam and taking a life of their own and have the media star repeating them as though they are true.

Posted by: del on April 20, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Since when is it exceptable for a sitting U.S. senator to outright lie and be ridiculously uninformeed and stupid at the same time. No matter if you like the guy or not no one would put up with that kind of behavior in a party guess. You certainly wouldn't ask them back if they acted like that at your party. Unless of course you wanted a sideshow clown for entertainment purposes.

Posted by: Gandalf on April 20, 2010 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

What to do about Brown? The plan is to re-elect him.

Posted by: Rick on April 20, 2010 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Scott Brown could take up the Mantle of Maverick, now that that other guy has dropped it...

Posted by: josef on April 20, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe a gentler touch in mocking him. Who knows? Maybe once he's logged a little time in his new gig, he'll get some idea of what he's talking about.

Posted by: JoeW on April 20, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Brown is just one step further down the road to a GOP dream world, where the electorate chooses candidates on the basis of brand names, as an exercise in social signaling through choices in consumer goods.

Frito-Lay doesn't care if Doritos are good for you. They want you to buy Doritos. The GOP, like Frito-Lay, have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize value for the shareholders in their enterprise.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on April 20, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, the "He seems to be a nice guy" defense. That's really worked out well for Democrats the past few years.

Posted by: Q on April 20, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Gandalf: "Since when is it exceptable for a sitting U.S. senator to outright lie and be ridiculously uninformed and stupid at the same time."

exceptable- at first I thought you must mean "acceptable". On the other hand, from empirical evidence, eg McCain, Cornyn, Bunning,et al, "exceptional" seems to fit the sentence more accurately.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on April 20, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

P.H.'s letter seems quite reasonable - yet here's the problem Scott "I'll be the 41st vote, not the 60th vote" Brown -- never pauses for a moment to ponder whether he's alienating Democrats -- but Democrats, by and large, are expected to factor in whether we're alienating Republicans.

Scott Brown is only "good for the Democrats" when other moderate Republicans give him the cover to be so/when Mitch the Chin gives his blessing.

In any case, if you couldn't tell, I'm with Steve on this one - an amiable himbo may make for a pleasant drinking buddy, but watching said himbo blandly and publicly make false representations about Democratic efforts and actions, and watching said himbo on C-Span stay up half the night joining his GOP cohorts in an attempt to "kill the bill" is no laughing matter. I don't give a good flying you-know-what about whether Brown is being "alienated" or not. He's out there banging the GOP propaganda drums as loudly anyone else on that team, therefore, he should not be cut slack any more than the rest of 'em.

Posted by: June on April 20, 2010 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

One must wonder as to the potential ramifications of having a mumbling babbler on our side of the fence. I'd much rather keep him in with his fellow mumbling babblers, as a concentrated target is always easier to hit than one that is decentralized.

It's easier to turn many squealing pigs into platters of freshly-sizzled bacon when all the pigs are in one slaughter-pen....

Posted by: S. Waybright on April 20, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

JCanuck my fervor overwhelmed me.

Posted by: Gandalf` on April 20, 2010 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Brownie's brown spot...

Your post on Brown yesterday was brilliant Steve.
Don't second guess yourself.
Brown is a major league dimwit.
The people of MA need to be humbled for electing this stooge to replace Teddy. They need their noses rubbed in Brownie's brown spot over and over...

Brown stinks like shit on ice.
So do it.
And keep doing it.

Posted by: koreyel on April 20, 2010 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

To borrow from our beloved Blue Girl, "Oh, good grief", you mean we can't criticize the other side for fear it might alienate them in some way and they won't play nice with us, ever again? This reminds me of a comment by Perpetually in Mourning Joe, when, he jumped on Joan Walsh of Salon, this AM. She had criticized many of the loonies and racists in the Tea Party movement. Joe started whining how that kind of talk would hurt bi-partisanship. Yeah, they can deride the left with impunity, but, if and when we fight back, we are the ones who ruining "working together" to "heal this nation", or as the Right wishes to be able to say to this nation, "Heal" as they tighten the leash.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 20, 2010 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Not criticizing him is how we ended up with the lying moron in the first place. Attack him for every stupid thing he says.

Posted by: doubtful on April 20, 2010 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Mustang Bobby, speaking of "Being There", perhaps Brown "likes to watch".

Posted by: berttheclock on April 20, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

given the apparent credibility that comes with her personable qualities.

Geez, I don't think you should refrain from legitimate criticisms, but questioning his manhood like that? C'mon, it's beneath you. ;)

Posted by: Allan Snyder on April 20, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

well, Brown is certainly a bit lacking in the braininess department, but the general conclusion that not enough is being done to create jobs is absolutely correct, and Dems don't do themselves any favors by downplaying this issue.

the general public knows what the unemployment figures say, that 10% is a low estimate, and that nothing on the horizon gives much confidence that job creation will improve anytime soon. in fact, the administration has admitted, several times, that it won't. and yet, they don't seem to be taking any urgent action to address the problem. the 'jobs bill' ended up being watered down massively, yet again, to please Republicans and for nothing in return.

Dems have to be more interested in pleasing the public than in pleasing the Republicans. there is great demand for one, and practically no demand for the other. what on Earth are they thinking? if these numbers stay basically even, it will mean greater numbers of Repubs in Congress, and things will just get more difficult from there. if they really think there's nothing they can do to spur job creation, they don't belong in power any more than the idiot Republicans do.

Posted by: onceler on April 20, 2010 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, Brown might even appreciate being corrected !

Posted by: Bill on April 20, 2010 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

It pains me to admit that Brown represents me in the Senate. He was a cipher in the Massachusetts State Senate before his anointment to be Kennedy's successor, an embarrassment this state will never live down, and he's a cipher now.

Nice guy that he may be, he doesn't understand how symbolic the teabaggers think he is, and how every incoherent word he utters will be parsed for non-existent significance. He's in over his head, doesn't know it, and probably not for the first time. He is the personification of an old maxim about beauty and brains being inversely related, but a pretty face gives you a free pass most of the time, or at least for a while.

He's in an impossible situation having to play up to his teabagger supporters, but coming from a state that is among the most, if not the most, liberal in the country. He does have to get reelected, unless he has enough wisdom (highly doubtful) not to run. In 2012 Massachusetts will take a much closer look at him than it did back in January, and he's more than likely to have an opponent far more savvy than Martha Coakley. There are many in this state who will move mountains to get rid of Brown. Of course there will be piles of teabagger money to support him from all over the country.

Having to please both ends of the political spectrum is a challenge meant for a more agile mind than Brown has demonstrated to date. His voting record will be undeniable, and he can lie all he wants, but the way he votes will define him.

Posted by: rrk1 on April 20, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

More pictures... Teabagging maybe. Otherwise? There's not really a Hell of a lot there. I'm not into winning over the loyalty of liars and fools. Hasn't that been done enough to derail the constant attempts to squeeze sense from the senseless? Sure we all have to work together, so let's use the parts that work.

Posted by: Trollop on April 20, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Ahh, you folks in the rest of the country are just discovering what the Independents in MA who did not vote for Brown already know. He is a narcissistic lightweight whose is incapable of complex, logical thought. He is blinded by the importance of his upset win.

Posted by: reachtoteach on April 20, 2010 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Brown isn't a nice guy (nor was Bush). The only thing Brown is good at is coming up with glib, Obama-bashing tag lines.

He didn't get elected because he's a nice guy. He had all of local talk radio (sports and talk shows) behind him, an insulting, misogynist, ignorant boys club.

Posted by: worcestergirl on April 20, 2010 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK
Davis X. Machina@10:48: Brown is just one step further down the road to a GOP dream world, where the electorate chooses candidates on the basis of brand names, as an exercise in social signaling through choices in consumer goods.

Frito-Lay doesn't care if Doritos are good for you. They want you to buy Doritos. The GOP, like Frito-Lay, have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize value for the shareholders in their enterprise.

I know I've been doing this a lot lately, but some things bear repeating. This is why the cultural differences between progressivism and (so-called) "conservatism" are so stark.

Posted by: JTK on April 20, 2010 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

@BrklynLibrul

On a related note, who's the Scott Brown or GWB of the Democratic party? You know, that affable white guy the pundits would like to have a beer with? I'm a political junkie and I can't seem to answer that one.

Obama?

Posted by: ted on April 20, 2010 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, Ted, it seems to me that Obama has one quality you won't ever find in an affable white guy . . . hmmm, can't quite put my finger on it . . . what could it be . . . . thinking, thinking . . .

Posted by: BrklynLibrul on April 20, 2010 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

I come to the exact opposite conclusion to P.H. with the same info. If he really is a winnable vote, then his thinking should be corrected, politely, when he makes errors. So far he's seemed reasonable, so why not engage in reasonable debate?

Allowing a fool to carry on being a fool just because you don't have the courage to challenge him lies Lieberman country. Or worse... Bush land.

Posted by: Roq on April 20, 2010 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

When Scott Brown trashes Democratic job-creation efforts with dishonest talking points he doesn't even seem to understand, for example, the casual voter might be inclined to believe him. After all, he seems like a good guy, right? Why would the handsome, likable guy lie?

Don't be so sure he's all that "likable" in Massachusetts.

Brown won election against a terrible campaigner in the absolute nadir of a winter of economic discontent, and even then, he won by only a modest margin (Coakley got something like 48% of the vote) in an election, that, right wing spin to the contrary, didn't feature a particularly high turnout (it was a high turnout by special election standards, sure, but something like 800,000 fewer Bay Staters went to the polls than in November '08). In 2012 Brown will face an electorate that is significantly less affluent, less white, less Republican, and less conservative.

Brown is likely to lose his reelection bid in 2012. Although most voters don't closely follow the ebb and flow of policy and legislation, the continual drip drip of Brownian faux pas and inane statements will take their toll. I'm not saying it's impossible, mind you, for Brown to win a full term in 2012, and I'm sure he'll have tons of money, but, at the end of the day, the McConnell agenda is very unpopular in Massachusetts. And, absent special circumstances (like an especially wooden Democratic nominee and a genuinely ferocious recession) I don't see him retaining his seat.

Posted by: Jasper on April 20, 2010 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

@BrklynLibrul

Hmmm, Ted, it seems to me that Obama has one quality you won't ever find in an affable white guy . . . hmmm, can't quite put my finger on it . . . what could it be . . . . thinking, thinking . . .

Uh...whose racist now? ;-)

Posted by: ted on April 20, 2010 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

I just realized Brown didn't get a six-year ticket.

Thank God for small favors.

Posted by: Sarah Palin IS the ANTIchrist on April 20, 2010 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

I totally agree with Steve Benen on this matter of Steve Brown and do not understand the mindset of P. H.

Steve is always respectful in a direct humorous way..calling it like it is doesn't get in the way of that. Actually Steve Brown needs to earn his respect and he shows me nothing.

The republicons use any trick in the book to get people to believe their lies. Why should Mr Benen enable that? There's enough enablers as it is.

Thank you, Steve Benen, for all you do.

Posted by: Cha on April 20, 2010 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

I can't see how a consistent, pathological liar is in any way 'likeable' or even a 'good dad'. How can someone be a good parent when they model dishonesty as a major professional skill? Even when repeatedly confronted with the truth (see Rachel Maddow's efforts to get him to back off of the lie about her so-called political ambitions), he won't be swayed.

You can't even make the argument that he's just ignorant.

Repeatedly. Confronted. With. The. Truth.

He's not ignorant or uninformed. He may not even be stupid. (How have we gotten to this point, where being 'stupid' would be a leader's saving grace.) He is a *deliberate liar*.

I always wonder why anyone thinks a good drinking buddy would be the best choice for a national leader. Norm, on the TV show 'Cheers' seemed to be a nice guy, but I'd *never* let him have any responsibility.

Posted by: Daniel Kim on April 21, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK
Post a comment









Remember personal info?










 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly