Scott Brown Busy Shaking That Etch-A-Sketch

[Cross-posted from the ProgressMass blog.  Like ProgressMass on Facebook and follow on Twitter.]

Our Republican junior Senator, Scott Brown, has been awfully busy lately shaking that Etch-A-Sketch, hoping Massachusetts voters won’t notice when he contradicts himself or fudges the truth a little (or a lot).  Perhaps all that time spent with Eric Fehrnstrom has caused Scott Brown to “catch a case of the Romneys.”

A couple of recent examples have circulated around the media.  We all know that Scott Brown has been wrapping himself in the Green Monster, suggesting that his being a Red Sox fan is, according to him apparently, his top qualification for being a U.S. Senator – until we were reminded that he advocated for moving the Red Sox out of Fenway Park and that he took a campaign contribution from the President of the New York Yankees.  Brown is just hoping to Etch-A-Sketch away those two strikes against his pro-Red Sox record, but he is behind in the count.

We also know that Scott Brown recently told WTKK 96.9 FM that he “had not touched alcohol since Jan. 1.”  This, of course, would require some serious Etch-A-Sketching, since we were all talking about him throwing back a number of beer samples at the Blue Hills Brewery in Canton just a couple of weeks back.

While these are indeed clear examples of shaking the political Etch-A-Sketch, some argue that those two examples aren’t closely related enough to current public policy issues to matter to voters.  So Scott Brown obliged us and offered up these additional examples from recent weeks of him shaking the Etch-A-Sketch on serious matters of public policy.

Wait, When Did Scott Brown Learn About Insider Trading in Congress?

Back on November 17, 2011, when Scott Brown appeared on the Fox News morning show “Fox & Friends,” he told co-host Gretchen Carlson that he had “been aware of” Congressional insider trading since last July, four full months before the notorious “60 Minutes” segment brought the practice to light:

Carlson: I imagine since you are a freshman Senator that you can say that you did not know about this.  Did you know that members of Congress had the ability to use insider information to get rich?

Brown: Certainly not when I got here.  It’s something we have been aware of since July, and then obviously the recent [“60 Minutes”] piece brought it to the forefront.

So, Scott Brown became aware of members of Congress trading stock based on insider information in July, but didn’t do anything about it for four months, until “60 Minutes” “brought it to the forefront” and gave Brown an opportunity to get on the soapbox in November.

The four-month lag time before taking action severely undercuts the image of Brown as a fast-acting leader who gets results.  Hmmmmm.  It sure would help Scott Brown’s “leadership” narrative considerably if he never admitted to learning about the Congressional insider trading practice last July.  If he had simply said that the “60 Minutes” segment was the first time that the issue was brought to his attention and he immediately sprang into action, well, that would be a much better story on the campaign trail.  So what does Brown do?

<<SHAKE THAT ETCH-A-SKETCH>>

Just a few weeks ago, on April 5, Scott Brown appeared as a guest on NightSide with Dan Rea on WBZ Radio.  During that appearance, Brown changed his story from the version he told Fox News.  Lo and behold, this version of the story, unsurprisingly, is much more in line with Brown’s desired “leadership” narrative (fast forward to the 10:12 mark of the nearly 34-minute segment):

Like everybody else, I saw the “60 Minutes” piece and was really surprised- didn’t know you could do that sort of thing.  Who would have thought that members of Congress can do insider trading and not go to jail?  So, I saw the “60 Minutes” piece, filed a bill, requested an immediate hearing, got it up in fifteen days, we got it out of committee fifteen days thereafter, and then it languished.

According to Brown earlier this month, he “was really surprised” by the “60 Minutes” piece and “didn’t know you could do that sort of thing.”  So he immediately went to work crafting the STOCK Act!  Only problem is, of course, back in November, on Fox News, he told “Fox & Friends” that he had known about the practice for four long months before acting, well before the “60 Minutes” segment brought the practice to the public’s attention.  Kind of slow on the draw there, Senator Brown.

Hold On, Did Scott Brown Water Down the Financial Reform Bill?

How did Scott Brown begin developing his reputation as one of Wall Street’s favorite members of Congress?  By doing their bidding, as in situations like this:

When Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown addressed supporters after his upset victory in January, he declared there would be “no more closed-door meetings or back-room deals by an out-of-touch party leadership.”

Some would argue that’s exactly what he just did in the final push on Wall Street reform.

After private talks with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd and other top Democrats, Brown scored a series of exemptions from the “Volcker rule” — which would bar certain forms of proprietary trading — a provision pushed by big Massachusetts banks and financial firms, including State Street Corp. and Mass Mutual.

Very clearly, Brown “scored a series of exemptions” for big financial firms from regulations designed to protect our economy – he watered down the bill.  Yes, he ultimately voted in favor of the bill, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t also water it down.  (And, coincidentally, of course, those same beneficiaries of Brown’s backroom deals to water down the bill just happened to also be big money contributors to Brown.)

Of course, all of this severely undercuts Brown’s self-proclaimed “independent” image.  So…

<<SHAKE THAT ETCH-A-SKETCH>>

Just last Friday, on April 20, as Fenway Park celebrated its 100th anniversary, Scott Brown appeared as a guest on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” airing live that morning from Friendly Fenway.  Lo and behold, to hear Scott Brown tell it, it’s just crazy – even hypocritical! – to suggest that he would ever water down that legislation (fast forward to the 9:58 mark of the nearly 12-minute segment):

Well, listen, I was the supporter- I worked on that- it never would have passed if it wasn’t for me.  I was tired of acting- having banks and Wall Street act like casinos with our money.  But not for me being involved, that never would have passed.  And I heard what Professor Warren said, oh, I watered it down.  With all due respect, it never would have passed, number one.  Number two, there never would have been a Consumer Protection Bureau that she would have been able to participate.  And number three, the fact that <crosstalk> and the fact that she said it’s the strongest regulation in three generations, it’s kind of, you know, hypocritical to say, all of a sudden, I watered it down.

Either Scott Brown is just flat-out lying here or, as some have suggested, he is in urgent need of a dictionary to look up the word “hypocritical.”  Regardless of how weak or strong the final bill was, it doesn’t change the fact – yes, the fact – that Scott Brown watered down the bill.  To paraphrase Scott Brown, “it’s kind of, you know, dishonest to say, all of a sudden, that he didn’t water it down.”  If Brown was really “tired” of “having banks and Wall Street act like casinos with our money,” he wouldn’t have “scored a series of exemptions” from key regulations for the big banks and financial services firms, which – again, purely coincidentally – were big money contributors to Brown’s campaign.

Whether it’s Scott Brown’s drinking, his effort to kick the Red Sox out of Fenway, his slow response to the insidious practice of Congressional insider trading, or his work on behalf of Wall Street to water down key regulations, one thing is certain: Scott Brown is awfully busy shaking that Etch-A-Sketch!

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Tue 2 Sep 12:40 PM