[Cross-posted on Blue Mass Group.]
It's been a "full circle" week (and a lousy one at that) for Republican Scott Brown. Brown began the week ducking a televised debate (Kennedy Institute) and ended the week ducking another televised debate (Worcester Telegram & Gazette). Brown began the week being mocked (for his "political porn" ads focusing on his ability to fold laundry) and ended the week being mocked (for his untrue and repeated boasts of daily "secret meetings" with Kings and Queens).
Scott Brown Ducking Debates: #ScottBrownDebateDemands
By now, we all know the first part of the story. No different from the special election in 2009-2010, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate sponsored a proposed debate. Republican Scott Brown's Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren, accepted. Brown delayed, while refusing to discuss debate invitations directly with his Democratic opponent.
Eventually, Republican Scott Brown accepted pending a couple of demands. First, Brown demanded that MSNBC couldn't air the debate. (Never mind that the network hadn't agreed to air the debate.) Second, and far more controversial, Brown demanded Vicki Kennedy's political silence. Brown required as a condition of his presence at the debate that Vicki Kennedy could not endorse a candidate in the race, period - not just prior to the debate, which could arguably make sense, but at any point in the whole campaign.
Another instance of a Republican man demanding the silence of a Democratic woman proved a bridge too far. Vicki Kennedy and the Kennedy Institute wouldn't comply with Republican Scott Brown's gag order, so Brown took his ball and went home. Of course, Brown was roundly criticized for his overreach, by individuals including the Boston Herald's Wayne Woodlief, the Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby, and just about everybody hopping on the Twitter hashtag #ScottBrownDebateDemands. Heck, the Boston Herald's Peter Gelzinis even wrote that Brown should "stop being a wimp." Wow.
But wait, there's more. Worcester, Massachusetts' (and New England's) second most populous city, wanted to host a debate; and, who could blame them? So a proposed debate was sponsored by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette (which endorsed Republican Scott Brown in the January 2010 special election for U.S. Senate, lest Brown be frightened of MSNBC/Kennedy-like perceived bias), the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Colleges of Worcester Consortium.
Democrat Elizabeth Warren immediately accepted. Republican Scott Brown was "coy" for a day, and then outright rejected the debate without any apparent reason offered. Maybe Brown doesn't like Worcester, or the Telegram & Gazette, or Chambers of Commerce. Who knows? Ironically, though, there's a line in the January 2010 endorsement of Brown over Attorney General Martha Coakley by the Telegram & Gazette that references "Ms. Coakley's reluctance to engage in one-on-one debates with Mr. Brown." Now that Brown is the incumbent, it appears that he has the monopoly on reluctance to engage in high-profile, televised, one-on-one debates. Maybe the Telegram & Gazette editorial board will "rethink Brown" this time around.
Meanwhile, Republican Scott Brown is still hyping a proposed debate on a talk radio show hosted by a personal friend of Brown's and his wife's, even though the radio host clearly fails Brown's own standards for accepting debate invitations. It just seems like more hypocrisy from Republican Scott Brown.
Scott Brown Becoming a Parody of Himself: #ScottosSecretMeetings
The week also began for Republican Scott Brown with ridicule of his most recent television ads focusing on him pretending to fold laundry and do chores around the house. Ostensibly, this was his way of reaching out to female voters to make up for voting against the Paycheck Fairness Act (and calling the measure, which simply sought to more fully enforce the value of Equal Pay for Equal Work, a "burden" on business), as well as his earlier vote for the anti-woman Blunt Amendment and some of his past off-color rhetoric toward women.
The generally pro-Brown Joe Battenfeld of the Boston Herald and NECN referred to Brown's ads as "sappy," "totally shallow," and having "nothing to do with the issues," and even went so far as to call the ads "political porn." Even Battenfeld couldn't deny the utterly cosmetic superficiality of Brown's message (not to mention the implication that Brown seems to think that the best way to connect with female voters is to pretend to do laundry).
Nevertheless, that measure of ridicule was nothing compared to what Republican Scott Brown would inflict on himself for claiming on talk radio that "each and every day" he has "secret meetings with kings and queens." After just a few hours of light mocking (in part courtesy of Blue Mass Group's inspired #ScottosSecretMeetings Twitter hashtag), Brown's spokesperson walked back the comment, saying Brown simply "misspoke."
That raises an interesting question for Republican Scott Brown and his spokesperson: is it "misspeaking" when it's something that's repeated over and over again, as though part of a stump speech? That's a valid question, as a video was released showing Brown repeating the phrase several times on the campaign trail (and is up to over 12,000 views on YouTube in less than three days) - he even made the claim on the floor of the U.S. Senate!
So not only was Brown's spokesperson being untruthful when claiming that Brown simply misspoke (since it's something he's repeated over and over again), but Brown himself was being untruthful when claiming that the comment was simply the result of the early hour of the radio show, at "seven o'clock in the morning when you're trying to get it out before the next question." (Senator Brown, the several other times you made the untrue claim, was it also 7:00 AM with people peppering you with questions? It doesn't look like it.) Way to compound the falsehood, Senator Brown.
While the gentle ribbing is good for a laugh, we shouldn't let the comedy of it overshadow the fact that the Senator isn't being honest with his constituents in this matter (either in the substance or the explanation after the fact), denting his credibility. The Boston Globe's Brian McGrory called it "Scott Brown's fractured fairy tales" and noted that Brown's self-description "doesn't gel with reality." For someone running a campaign focused on credibility and likeability over actual positions on issues, Brown does himself no favors with these unforced errors damaging his credibility, especially since there are plenty of items to point to when questioning both Brown's credibility and likeability.
On top of all of that, with Republican Scott Brown's opponent beginning to connect with constituencies that Brown is trying to claim as his base, like the fishing industry and Chambers of Commerce, Brown may find himself rapidly running out of political real estate on which to operate. How bad will things get for Brown? Stay tuned for next week's "Weekly Scott Brown-d Up."