There are times when Globe columnist Brian McGrory drives me crazy, and if he even knows we exist, I’d imagine that the reverse is true as well. But I’ll say this for the guy: there are also times when he absolutely nails it. If you missed his brilliant series of columns on Liberty Mutual’s penchant for flushing millions of dollars down the gold-plated toilet in its CEO’s office, go read them.
You may also recall a couple of McGrory columns during Charlie Baker’s ill-fated run for Governor. They were terrific columns, not because they tended to help out the guy I was backing (though they did), but because they zeroed in on exactly what it was that bothered a lot of people about Charlie Baker. Baker was a candidate who looked great on paper, but who in reality often left a sense of something missing, something not quite right. McGrory’s columns were some of the first mainstream media pieces to put into words what it was that people found lacking, and that ultimately was a big part of why he lost.
All of this brings us to today’s McGrory column, in which he pungently asks,
What in this wide and wonderful world is Scott Brown thinking?
Our junior senator is, as everyone in Massachusetts well knows, the Luckiest Man in America. He has an accomplished wife, a pair of smart and successful daughters, and model good looks. He was blessed in that lightning strike of a Senate campaign with an opponent that lacked any semblance of intuition about those people known as voters. In the end, a barn jacket and a pickup truck were all he needed to vote on the START treaty.
Brown rolled sevens through the spring as word broke that Elizabeth Warren had claimed Native American heritage that couldn’t be substantiated. As Warren tripped over the issue for the next month, it looked as if Brown could do no wrong — largely by doing nothing of any great consequence at all.
But how quickly things can change, and Brown, somewhat surprisingly, seems to be shrinking before an electorate’s eyes.
Start with his two new television ads. They are, and I’m sorry to report this, ridiculous.
The next bit, on the content of the ads, made me laugh out loud.
I have no doubt that Gail Huff is a nice person, wonderful mother, and dedicated wife, but should anyone care that, and this is her quote, “Scott did all the morning routine. Get the girls up, get them fed, get them dressed, get them off to school.”
Then she adds, “And he was the one who was always there during the day.”
Of course he was the one who was always there during the day. He was a Republican member of the Massachusetts state legislature. There was little else he had to do.
Brilliant – captures in just a couple of sentences both the ad’s painfully transparent pandering, and also the fact that Scott Brown didn’t really accomplish very much during his years in the state legislature.
And then there’s this (emphasis mine):
And when he’s not focused on his domestic life these days, he’s talking about Warren’s. Her claims to Native American ancestry are fair game in this race; I’ve raised them here myself. But for Brown, it’s the only game he seems to want to play.
He played it on Thursday’s Fox appearance, then trumpeted it on the homepage of his campaign website. He did it with a CBS reporter earlier this week, then sent out a news release with the small portion of the story that dealt with the issue. He has remained at the scene of this crash so long that voters are inevitably going to wonder if he has anywhere else to go.
Apparently, this is all Scott Brown’s got. And that’s pretty sad. #masen #mapoli
Finally, McGrory slams Brown’s campaign for its absurd failure to agree to participate in all four televised debates that are currently on the table.
Brown has accepted invitations for one in Springfield, and another hosted by WBZ-TV in Boston. Warren has accepted those two, plus one by the Kennedy Institute and another by a consortium of Boston media outlets, including the Globe.
Brown’s campaign manager refuses to discuss a debate schedule with Warren’s campaign, saying he will be accepting invitations “as we get them.” Small problem: that’s not true, given that he hasn’t responded to the consortium’s invitation to a final debate and offers no clue as to when he might.
“I don’t have a timetable,” Brown spokesman Colin Reed said.
Someone’s starting to look an awful lot like Martha Coakley on that front, and let’s all try to remember how that worked out for her.
Oof. That’s gotta sting. And I am constrained to point out that, again, McGrory’s point about debates is strikingly similar to one previously stated here.
McGrory is famously from Weymouth, a town that went for Brown nearly 2-1 (64%-35%) last time around, but that Charlie Baker won only 45%-37%. I don’t know whether he’s enrolled in a political party, but he generally seems like a decent proxy for exactly the kind of middle-of-the-road voter that Republicans in this state, whether named Charlie Baker or Scott Brown, need to win in very big numbers in order to have a chance. If he and BMG are singing from the same hymnal when it comes to Scott Brown – as was the case for Charlie Baker – then Brown has got big trouble.