[Cross-posted on Blue Mass Group.]
Last week was about one thing and one thing only for Republican Scott Brown: convincing Massachusetts to forget about his lousy record and rhetoric on women. Every cynical political move Brown made toward this effort only raised more questions or served to underscore the superficiality with which Brown treats what it means to truly be "pro-choice."
The week began with abhorrent and ridiculously ignorant comments from Todd Akin, Republican Congressman and nominee for U.S. Senate in Missouri. Akin's comments centered on his belief that women's bodies have an innate ability shut down pregnancy that may result from "legitimate" rape. Sensing political opportunity, Republican Scott Brown decried the comments (just as every sensible American did) and called on Akin to resign his Senate nomination.
Republican Scott Brown snagged a number of headlines for calling on Akin to resign the nomination; but, Brown's stunt should have raised a number of questions among reporters covering it.
One, why did Republican Scott Brown stop at calling on Akin to resign his Senate nomination? Why didn't Brown call on Akin to resign his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives (or, at the very least, his slot on the U.S. House's Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, since science is a topic on which Akin is clearly ignorant) if he thought Akin's comments were that far beyond the pale?
Two, if Republican Scott Brown thought Akin's comments on "legitimate" rape were that far beyond the pale, why has he not called on the Republican Party's Vice Presidential nominee-in-waiting, right-wing conservative Congressman Paul Ryan, to resign his VP nomination in light of his work with Akin to re-define rape? At the very least, why has Brown not called on Ryan to at least further clarify what he meant by "forcible" rape? (Instead, Brown will attend the Republican National Convention on Thursday to support Paul Ryan for Vice President.)
Three, if Republican Scott Brown took such sincere issue with Akin's comments on rape, why would Brown take a four-figure contribution from Texas politico Clayton Williams during his special election campaign? For those who don't recall, Williams notoriously said that rape victims should "just relax and enjoy it." It wasn't an obscure incident. During the 2008 Presidential campaign, John McCain was shamed into cancelling a fundraiser with Williams. Yet, a search on OpenSecrets.org reveals that Brown took a $1,000 contribution from Williams - a contribution that, just coincidentally, cleared on January 19, 2010, the actual date of the special election for U.S. Senate. To even the mildly skeptical, it would appear as though Team Brown held the controversial contribution until as late as possible to avoid blowback (until being shamed into giving it away just last week).
Despite all of the questions raised by Republican Scott Brown's stunt, Brown still took the time to pat himself (and his truck's 238,000 miles) on the back.
During the week, Republican Scott Brown took to vocally identifying himself as "pro-choice." Of course, this fantasy flies in the face of his votes and his political allegiance. In accepting the support of Massachusetts' leading anti-choice group, we were reminded of Brown's policies and his politics:
The state's leading antiabortion group said Thursday that it plans to support Senator Scott Brown's reelection campaign, potentially undercutting the Republican's effort this week to distance himself from his party's support for strict antiabortion measures.
"We consider him a senator who votes prolife," said Anne Fox, president of the Massachusetts Citizens for Life. "We have to take his word for it when he says he is prochoice. But what we're looking for is someone who votes prolife, and he does." [...]
Still, Brown received the backing of Massachusetts Citizens for Life in his 2010 run for Senate and has sided with the National Right to Life Committee on four of its five key votes since he arrived in Washington, earning him an 80 percent approval rating.
Not only does Republican Scott Brown vote the way that the anti-choice group wants him to the vast majority of the time, but the anti-choice group basically said that Brown can call himself "pro-choice" if he wants to out of political convenience as long as he votes the anti-choice way.
During his time as a career politician, Republican Scott Brown has demonstrated leadership on behalf of anti-choice advocates:
Indeed, Brown has co-sponsored bills curtailing womens' right to choose, including the Women's Right To Know Act, which would require women to wait 24 hours and review pictures and information detailing the development of their fetus, and the infamous Blunt Amendment, which would strip women of any health coverage an employer or insurer opposed on moral grounds.
What do real pro-choice advocates have to say about Republican Scott Brown's position on reproductive rights?
Scott Brown is not pro-choice.
While Scott Brown calls himself pro-choice, in reality he voted pro-choice just once out of the five times issues of choice came to a vote on the Senate floor. One pro-choice vote out of five doesn't make Scott Brown a trust-worthy defender of women's rights and access to full health care coverage. Scott Brown should not be allowed to claim the mantle of pro-choice and supporter of women's health care choices when his voting record is in line with anti-choice senators and anti-choice organizations like the Massachusetts Citizens for Life.
So Republican Scott Brown calls on Todd Akin to step back from his Senate campaign, and he calls himself "pro-choice" out of cynical political convenience (actual voting record, be damned!). But wait, there's more!
Republican Scott Brown took it upon himself to write a letter to Reince Preibus, the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, suggesting that he see to it that the Republican Party platform be more tolerant of reproductive rights. The GOP promptly ignored Brown's letter, supporting a platform that opposes reproductive rights and includes no exceptions on abortion in the instances of rape or incest. Would Brown fight for his alleged values at the Republican National Convention? In a word, nope.
Senator Scott Brown said Wednesday that he would not take his fight against the Republican Party platform's anti-abortion language to the party's convention in Tampa next week. [...]
But Brown did not indicate that he would take any other action, including lobbying delegates or speaking further on the issue while he is in Tampa.
Republican Scott Brown is happy to send an easily-ignored letter, but he won't actually put any of his political capital on the line by actually, heaven forbid, raising the issue at the Convention. Once he's at the Republican Convention, he'll just go along to get along. Compare that inaction with the effort of a real moderate, former Governor Bill Weld:
In the past, other big-name Massachusetts Republicans did more than write letters about abortion. In 1992, then-Gov. Bill Weld delivered a strong pro-choice speech at the Republican Convention in Houston. He tried to launch a floor fight but didn't have enough votes.
Ultimately, Brown's self-proclaimed "pro-choice" veneer masks not only a distinctly anti-choice voting record, but also a vote for a right-wing, Tea Party Republican agenda in the U.S. Senate:
A vote for Scott Brown is also a vote to elect Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as Senator Majority Leader, and a vote to elect Elizabeth Warren is a vote to elect Harry Reid (D-NV) to that same post.
A vote for Republican Scott Brown is a vote for a Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and, with him, a right-wing, Tea Party Republican agenda. And that bodes very poorly for reproductive rights in America.
What political theater does Republican Scott Brown have in store for us this week, the week of the Republican National Convention? Stay tuned for the next "Weekly Scott Brown-d Up" to find out!