Nobody should take speculative stories from Politico too seriously because they are almost always right-leaning. I sense some of their stories are sourced from phone number left on cocktail napkins. As a result, how do we approach the Politico headline about Scott Brown being more “populist”?
First a couple of points. Brown is voicing his objection to the House’s behavior on the tax credit and voted for Richard Cordray because he fears Elizabeth Warren. That much we know. We know this because if he felt strongly about either one, we would see him lobbying the other two New England Sisters Snow and Collins to his side. Of course he cannot do this even as a farce because it would anger the banks holding his leash. He needs their money to win no matter what he says or does in the Senate between now and November. Second, Scott Brown has never been a populist. I still believe that voters did not put him in to stop Health Reform (a task at which he failed), but for dozens of other valid reasons. Oh and Democrats resting on their laurels, too.
So my question becomes does Brown actually benefit from voicing his objection to the House’s payroll tax behavior. I’m discounting the Cordray nomination because Warren can still hang him with his allegiance to the financial industry. I say that “blasting” House Republicans is at best an act of preservation. “Don’t associate me with the crazies,” rather than “Hey, voters! Guess who’s a moderate. This Guy!” The most likely benefit he can glean is not being skewered along with the rest of Republicans in the eyes of Massachusetts voters.
I don’t see his stock actually rising as a result. Rather than seeming like the last moderate standing (he’s not since half the GOP Senate caucus has blasted the House, too) he could look like somebody on a deserted island objecting to cannibalism as the other castaways decide that he’s the one who will get eaten. Not a bold stand on principle, but a shriek for help.
In fact it could backfire as much as anything else if voters view Brown as an example of wider chaos. Might voters think, sure he and 38 Republicans voted for this bill, but the Republicans are in the minority albeit an unreasonably powerful minority. What if they were in the majority? Could a GOP-run Senate be as bad or worse than it is under Democratic control? Could it become like the GOP House with its violent mood swings regardless of whether it can actually pass legislation? Could filibuster be the least of our problems the way this new class of Republicans govern?