[Cross-posted on Blue Mass Group.]
Republican Scott Brown just had his first net-positive week in a long while - and he should be ashamed of it. Why? Because it seems like the only way Scott Brown can have a good week is by avoiding any discussion of actual issues and by promoting misleading attacks on his political rivals.
More ink than it deserves has been used up reporting on Elizabeth Warren's Native American heritage, so I'll be brief. Is Elizabeth Warren part Cherokee? Yes. She is at least 1/32 Cherokee. Does that qualify as "Cherokee enough?" Apparently it does, as the current Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Bill John Baker, is also 1/32 Cherokee.
Did she use her Native American heritage to her advantage in job interviews? No. Not one single institution of higher learning at which she taught has said that Warren raised her Native American heritage in job interviews. That was confirmed by Charles Fried, a conservative law professor and one of the people who hired her to Harvard, and, oh yeah, he was Ronald Reagan's solicitor general. Fried called any suggestion by Scott Brown or anyone else that Warren used her heritage to get ahead to be "ignorant and ridiculous." Further, in the last week, Native Americans from across Massachusetts and across the country - especially educators of Native American heritage - have been defending Elizabeth Warren.
So Elizabeth Warren does have Native American heritage and did not use that heritage to her advantage professionally, nor has she been campaigning around the state saying "Vote for me so Massachusetts can elect its first Native American U.S. Senator." That should be the end of the story. The only entities continuing to drive this story are Republican Scott Brown, the Boston Herald, and Rush Limbaugh and other far-right-wing pundits. That's it. But, having resolved the only even-tangentially relevant questions, any further stories on this topic don't qualify as "journalism;" they don't even qualify as "gotcha journalism." They only qualify as garbage.
However, if Republican Scott Brown is truly interested in apologies for insensitivity on issues of ethnicity, race, gender and sexual orientation, ProgressMass has compiled "Scott Brown's Top Ten Sexist, Homophobic, and Racially Insensitive Moments," moments for which Brown can start apologizing right away, if he's so inclined.
Republican Scott Brown tried delivering a speech on bipartisanship that fell flat, given Brown's own extremely partisan rhetoric. It doesn't help Brown's claims of "bipartisanship" that the National Republican Senatorial Committee gave Brown the maximum $43,100 contribution and set up a secret fundraising effort that has brought in almost $3 million, almost half of which came from the financial services industry, venture capitalists, and Wall Street. If Scott Brown wanted to display actual bipartisanship and independence, he would return both the money that the National Republican Senatorial Committee directly gave him, as well as the funds raised for Brown through this secret partisan fundraising effort.
In one of Republican Scott Brown's scarce few moments in the last week actually discussing a policy issue, in this case health care reform, he was called out for his health care hypocrisy. Brown wants to repeal the national health care reform law, which would eliminate numerous benefits for Massachusetts families including allowing adult children up to age 26 to remain on the family health care plan. Why does that represent health care hypocrisy for Brown? Because Brown was forced to come clean earlier this week that he covers his own 23-year-old adult daughter on his family plan, courtesy of the U.S. Senate. In short, Brown wants to take away the health care benefits you enjoy courtesy of health care reform while he reaps the benefits for himself. He has been rightly "grilled" on the topic since.
In yet another attempt by Republican Scott Brown to distract from having to discuss actual issues, the Brown campaign released footage of Brown sinking a basketball shot from halfcourt while at a campaign stop. (Look, shiny object!) However, not only was it revealed that it took Brown five tries to hit the shot, but, far more importantly, the campaign stop was filmed by taxpayer-funded Senate office staff during taxpayer business hours. Of course, this is not the first time that Scott Brown has abused taxpayer resources for his political outreach. How many times can Scott Brown skirt Senate ethics policies before he gets called out on it? (Also, he shot his halfcourt shot underhanded. Not very manly, Senator Brown.)
Columnists in Massachusetts and across the country took note of Republican Scott Brown's lack of substance this week. In "Brown needs to tackle the big issues," the Boston Globe's Scot Lehigh calls Brown ducking big issues "a sidestep," calls out Brown for his "election-year dodge," and concludes that Brown is "falling well short of the senatorial standard he has set for himself." In The Hill, Brent Budowsky much more bluntly calls Scott Brown out for his "sexist slime."
Also, in the pages of The MetroWest Daily News and The Milford Daily News, retired Reverend Judy Deutsch declares that the "nation deserves better than Sen. Scott Brown," noting Brown's vote for the anti-woman Blunt Amendment, his vote against the pro-middle class Buffett Rule, and his disregard for students' needs. Finally, a Boston Globe letter to the editor hit the nail on the head in highlighting Brown's hypocrisy on jobs, noting that he's joined with his right-wing Republican colleagues to filibuster several jobs bills (blocking over 30,000 jobs for the Commonwealth!).
So what did we learn this week? When the public conversation is about actual issues, Republican Scott Brown loses; so, Brown is desperate to distract from the issues at all costs. A disappointing lesson, indeed. Stay tuned for next week's "Weekly Scott Brown-d Up."