Senator Scott Brown said today that he will accept a debate at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, but only on the condition that Vicki Kennedy stay neutral in the election and MSNBC drop out as the sponsor.
The campaign said in a statement that it would agree to allowing Tom Brokaw to moderate. Elizabeth Warren has already accepted the Sept. 27 debate, but Brown had previously not committed. The candidates are jointly committed to two other televised debates so far, one in the Boston market and a second one in Western Massachusetts.
Today’s statement from the Brown camp regarding Vicki Kennedy’s invitation to a third debate at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute has set the liberal blogosphere and twitter-sphere ablaze (currently trending worldwide: #ScottBrownDebateDemands). Tweeters have pulled out all of the ironic stops from “Scott Brown will only debate if the McRib is made available year round,” to “Scott Brown will only debate if the moderator’s ring tone is changed to Call Me Maybe.”
Funny stuff, but is Brown truly deserving of such harsh criticism in this matter? It’s only natural that the campaign would be cautious of accepting a debate invitation from someone who likely supports Warren, non-partisan organization or no. And turn the tables around: how would a liberal candidate feel about a Fox News broadcast debate?
The only unreasonable demand in this statement, in my opinion, is the request for Vicki Kennedy to stay silent. Though it’s likely that she won’t publicly endorse anyone, it’s not fair to stifle a single person’s political opinion no matter how influential.
In any case, if we as liberals and citizens of democracy want to nurture and support a fair, non-toxic political environment, these are the kind of requests that need to be considered in the public sphere. The fact that so many are up in arms about this only tells me that we no longer respect a fair game.
From his vote against Fair Pay to his Wall Street backers, there are an overwhelming number of reasons to criticize Scott Brown. A demand for neutrality should not be one of them.