Political Animal


October 06, 2011 12:35 PM Stay classy, Scott

By Steve Benen

In her first debate as a Senate candidate this week, Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren was asked how she paid for college, in light of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) having posed nude to get tuition money.

I kept my clothes on,” Warren said, adding that she worked part-time and took out loans.

Brown decided the best response to this would be to go after Warren’s appearance.

“Have you officially responded to Elizabeth Warren’s comment about how she didn’t take her clothes off?” the host asked Brown Wednesday.

“Thank God!” Brown said, laughing.

Brown somehow managed to win a Senate seat, despite his lack of qualifications or familiarity with public policy, in large part because of his personality. Voters found him likable, and found Martha Coakley, and her unwillingness to stand outside Fenway shaking hands, unlikable. It was the difference between winning and losing.

If Brown, when his guard his down and he’s just being himself, actually turns out to be a jerk, he shouldn’t be surprised if voters reevaluate what they thought they knew about their dim-witted senator.

And if Warren’s supporters needed a little added motivation in this race, I suspect Brown’s on-air comments ought to do the trick.

Brown added, “You know what, listen: Bottom line is, you know, I didn’t go to Harvard, you know, I went to the school of hard knocks, and I did whatever I had to do to pay for school. And for people who know me, and know what I’ve been through … mom and dad married and divorced four times each. You know, some real challenges growing up. You know, whatever. You know, let them throw stones. I did what I had to do. But [if] not for having that opportunity, I never would have been able to pay for school, and never would have gone to school, and I wouldn’t probably be talking to you, so, whatever.”

First, Warren didn’t go to Harvard; she went to a state school in Texas. Second, if Scott Brown thinks posing nude for money is evidence of “hard knocks,” I imagine some laborers in Massachusetts might disagree.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • c u n d gulag on October 06, 2011 12:40 PM:

    From what I remember about that Playgirl picture I saw of him when he was running, I couldn't tell if they were 'hard' or 'soft', since they never really showed his 'knocks' at all.

    And being a nasty, rude, misogynist asshole will only worm him deeper into the heart of the Conservative base.

  • DAY on October 06, 2011 12:42 PM:

    Well, to this U.S. Government Certified Geezer, Warren's a MILF now, and I betcha she was equally hot in high school.
    But then I always thought the most attractive part of a person- woman OR man- was what is inside their skull.
    Would you care to respond to that, Senator Brown?

  • DJ on October 06, 2011 12:48 PM:

    Reminds me of Bartlett's line from The West Wing (paraphrasing): "Just so you know, if you ever wonder when I decided to kick your ass, it was right now."

  • Bartender on October 06, 2011 12:48 PM:

    "Brown somehow managed to win a Senate seat, despite his lack of qualifications or familiarity with public policy, in large part because of his personality." Dubya also had these qualities and just like Dubya this "Emperor Wears No Clothes".

  • threegoal on October 06, 2011 12:52 PM:

    Maybe Brown should be known as "Senator Whatever". Man does he deserve to lose!

  • MCD on October 06, 2011 12:53 PM:

    Five "you know"s and two "whatever"s in one paragraph? What is he, in high school? That's going to be one epic ass-whupping when she debates him.

  • nisl on October 06, 2011 12:56 PM:

    I know the wingnuts will say it is no big deal that Brown posed nude, but can you imagine if it were a female who stripped down for a photo shoot then, later in life, decided to run for office? They would lose it!

    HUGE. DOUBLE. STANDARD. But not surprising.

  • bobbo on October 06, 2011 12:56 PM:

    Seriously. Future candidates should take note: "Whatever" is a GREAT answer to just about any question. It's up there with "I don't recall."

  • lb 22 on October 06, 2011 12:56 PM:

    He had to pose nude in order to afford tuition to the school of hard knocks?

  • Jeff on October 06, 2011 12:56 PM:

    I can't stand the guy, but she's the one who started the whole thing by bringing up the clothing issue. He just issued a comeback. That's called politics.

    Let's move on. She's such a worthy candidate that this discussion is just plain stupid.

  • matt w on October 06, 2011 12:57 PM:

    As Steve says, Warren graduated from the University of Houston and went to Rutgers School of Law (having matriculated at George Washington and married at age 19). But it's true that Brown didn't go to Harvard. He got his bachelor's from... Tufts.

    What a poser.

  • internet tough guy on October 06, 2011 12:58 PM:

    "He got his bachelor's from... Tufts."

    In short, Harvard rejected him.

  • matt w on October 06, 2011 1:00 PM:

    Jeff: From the article, it looks to me as though the debate questioner actually brought up Brown's nude pictures. You could say that Warren should've ignored it, but her remark was a lot less personally offensive than Brown's response.

  • 3reddogs on October 06, 2011 1:01 PM:


    She didn't bring up the "clothing issue". Steve made it clear in the 1st sentence that the questioner asked how she paid for college, "in light of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) having posed nude to get tuition money".

  • ottercliff on October 06, 2011 1:08 PM:

    Seems like the School of Hard Knocks didn't explain that you sound real dumb if you start and end every sentence with "you know".

  • DenverRight on October 06, 2011 1:08 PM:

    MY GOD, does this pass for political debate in Massachusetts???

    I guess it does for Steve BENEN.

    I used to live in the Commonwealth, I remember a more intelligent environment. I HOPE they are talking about the economy in this election!

  • g on October 06, 2011 1:12 PM:

    As someone on another blog noted, it's true that Warren threw the first punch.

    But the difference is, she threw a clean punch. He punched back dirty.

  • Danp on October 06, 2011 1:16 PM:

    What kind of a question was that anyway? I get the impression the moderator was just trying to stir the pot. Or was there any particular reason for knowing how Warren paid for school?

  • zandru on October 06, 2011 1:23 PM:

    "I did whatever I had to do to pay for school."

    So, it wouldn't be out of line to ask Mr. Brown if he also resorted to ... prostitution?

    ... Not that I think he did; I just want to see the look on his face when he's asked.

  • max on October 06, 2011 1:27 PM:

    Poor Zoolander.

  • Ron Byers on October 06, 2011 1:34 PM:

    Steve, why aren't you outraged by the first question. I think the moderator was a jerk.

    Warren handled it well, but I am not sure Brown did such a bad job. If Brown wants to leave the impression that Warren went to Havard, then how is that going to hurt Warren. we are talking about Massachusetts aren't we?

    Question, what is the annual tuition for the school of hard knocks?

  • TCinLA on October 06, 2011 1:39 PM:

    Reading his quote, he certainly never learned the English language in any of his classrooms, did he? A grade school dropout burger flipper is likely more articulate than this dumbass. It'll be interesting to see him in a debate with Warren.

  • Gov't Mule on October 06, 2011 1:49 PM:

    This is not the first time that Brown has been either blatantly sexist or insensitive to women. Just last year, Brown stood by his endorsement of House candidate Jeff Perry even after revelations that Perry once stood by and allowed a fellow police officer to molest a minor.

    Perry was once a sergeant in the Wareham PD.

    Breaking her long silence, a woman who was illegally strip searched in 1991 by a Wareham police officer under the command of then-police sergeant Jeffrey D. Perry said that Perry was nearby during the assault, failed to stop it, and tried to cover it up after the fact.

    The accusation against Perry, now a congressional candidate, came Tuesday in a statement from Lisa Allen, who was 14 when she was assaulted near a Wareham cranberry bog.

    "He had to hear me screaming and crying. Instead of helping me, Jeff Perry denied anything happened," said Allen, who released the statement to the Globe through her lawyer.

    Scott Flanagan, the officer who conducted the strip search and a similar assault on a different girl in 1992, admitted to the crimes and was convicted in 1993 of civil rights violations and indecent assault of a child.

    But Perry initially said that he was in a position to see and hear everything that happened that night and that the assault never occurred.

    ...The events occurred May 22, 1991, when Allen and three boys were socializing around two parked cars when three police cruisers pulled up, according to a Wareham police report. Perry, the patrol supervisor that night; Flanagan; and another officer, Stephen Kearney, approached the teenagers.

    Perry and Flanagan found that one of the boys had marijuana and arrested him. Flanagan asked Allen if she had any drugs, then ordered her to lift her top and bra and then unbutton her pants, according to a transcript of Flanagan's guilty plea. Allen asked that she be searched by a female officer and began screaming and yelling when Flanagan went ahead anyway.

    "Without any warning or notice to the victim, the defendant then put his hand down the front of her jeans inside her underwear feeling that area of her body," prosecutors said in outlining the charges, to which Flanagan then pleaded guilty.

    No drugs were found.


  • Danton on October 06, 2011 1:53 PM:

    Scott Brown went to Tufts--not exactly a "school of hard knocks."

  • sue on October 06, 2011 1:56 PM:

    Brown went to the the school of hard what?

  • doubtful on October 06, 2011 2:03 PM:

    Isn't Harvard in MA? Why disparage a well respected school in your own state? Oh, right, he's a moron.

  • boctaoe on October 06, 2011 2:08 PM:

    Didn't classy Scott Brown offer his daughters up (for use in some way) during his acception speech? I seem to remember.

  • Objective Dem on October 06, 2011 2:16 PM:

    Brown's wife was a tv reporter in Boston. But I'm sure that had nothing to do with how the media treats him. Always remember the media is always objective.

  • Bob M on October 06, 2011 2:22 PM:

    His comeback doesn't work since she is still a cutie.

  • 2Manchu on October 06, 2011 2:34 PM:

    "...I did whatever I had to do to pay for school."

    Yes, posing nude one time really puts my four years as an infantryman to shame.

  • Monala on October 06, 2011 2:44 PM:

  • ComradeAnon on October 06, 2011 2:56 PM:

    I think she's gorgeous.

  • andrew on October 06, 2011 3:21 PM:

    Indeed, I have absolutely no idea how he managed to get to that spot, and I totally agree with what was written here. But to be honest, that 'Thank God' made me chuckle a little.

  • maggie on October 06, 2011 3:31 PM:

    I adore Elizabeth Warren. Scott Brown's repsonse was pretty repulsive. But I think E.W.'s response to the question was also wrong. So what, he posed nude to get through college. I don't like that she reinforce the idea that it's a horrible shameful thing, especially since it's more often used against women.

  • John Torrey on October 06, 2011 3:55 PM:

    Suggested Warren response: "I guess he'd rather run against Sarah Palin."

  • Eli Rabett on October 06, 2011 4:11 PM:

    So how do male models make enough money to pay for Tufts and BC Law which are as or more expensive than Harvard. Eli leaves it to your fertile imagination

  • Anonymous on October 06, 2011 11:40 PM:

    I dunno, Jon Stewart seems to have a crush on her...

  • Anonymous on October 06, 2011 11:58 PM:

    His "school of hard knocks" was an absolutely horrendous childhood. It's obvious he felt a bit defensive about having posed nude and probably has a bit of a chip on his shoulder about having had to use his looks to pull him out of an awful family environment. He shouldn't have made the quip, but she quipped, as well.

    And being snotty about his "school of hard knocks", considering multiple homes, sexual abuse, getting in trouble with the law? Doesn't get a heck of a lot rougher for most kids.

    Attack him on his politics. Don't attack him for doing what he needed to do to get out of that awful childhood. Which Warren sort of did with her little crack. His response wasn't gallant, but her dig wasn't either.

  • max on October 07, 2011 9:39 AM:

    Tufts is the school of "hard knocks"? Scott Brown represents a chance for Massachusetts to take their SATs over. This time I hope they hit four digits.