Dear BMG: Did we watch the same debate?

I just finished watching the debate online (family obligations), and I’m having a hard time reading through this thread.  Either I’m overconfident, or this has become an echo chamber for panicky libs  but I thought Warren did an excellent job.

I think we have to understand what the landscape is:

  • People like Brown and think he’s nice.
  • People don’t really know Warren, by and large.
  • People in MA do not like the Republicans right now.
  • Warren’s views are more in step with what they’d prefer to vote for.

The fact that Brown went so heavy after Warren for the Cherokee thing, I think, made him seem petty and not very pleasant. It’s not an important issue to anyone who doesn’t read Howie Carr religiously. If he were to play to his strength, he would have avoided the subject and not taken the bait from Keller. Minus one on nice points for Brown. (It didn’t help that he seemed a little nervous and hyper at the start.)

Warren did a very fine job of peeling back Brown’s actual voting record, on behalf of the wealthy and oil companies at the expense of the middle class. And really, he didn’t disagree, taking a hard line against all tax increases on anyone, no matter how unsympathetic. He even used that wonderful GOP euphemism “job creators.” This is not stuff that’s going to get Brown re-elected — at least not with a credible opponent.

(His touting of the US Chamber of Commerce and the NFIB as independent, non-partisan blue-eyed ingenues was laughable, though that will likely evaporate, since not many folks know who they are.)

Warren also came across as intelligent, credible, calm, and personable. She was not vicious or strident; she merely talked about his record, which seemed to make him uncomfortable (and it should). He spent a lot of time explaining votes, and “if you’re explaining, you’re losing.”

Brown had a little momentum going in the second half — Warren got a little stuck on the asbestos question. But given the facts of the case, that’s not going to stick to her — it doesn’t easily follow a pre-existing narrative about her.

I thought she did just fine, and did what she needed to do. She showed what she cared about, why she’s better than the other guy, and that she’s a smart, credible, un-crazy person. Senatorial, in other words.

Well done, Ms. Warren.

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20 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. You and I...

    saw the same debate

  2. I watched twice, once with friends, and once on the puter.


    She won both times, Brown looked foolish.

  3. We're horse race people

    We analyse to death. :)

    However, on the general analysis I agree. The biggest issue for Brown is he just totally lost his “nice guy in the middle” credibility.

    I felt he went after the red meat which is just weird, in a state with a pretty small number of die hard Republicans. The Cherokee thing, the salary thing, the “she didn’t voluntary pay more taxes thing” – ugh – and on several other fronts that he’s been whining about incessantly for like, months and months. I mean, WTF?? How does this help him stay likable??

    I did like her classiness – man, did that stand out next to Brown’s petulant performance. David Bernstein had an interesting take on Brown

    • Disagree with DB

      though I think his instincts are usually pretty good …

      Look, Brown just doesn’t have much to run on. For all his playing the “bipartisan” card, he doesn’t have much to show for it — a couple of little trinkets, but it’s not like he’s been the great icebreaker of the Senate. In fact, he’s usually part of the problem, and we saw tonight why: It’s because he’s ideologically and temperamentally not up to it. He’s as conservative as he thinks he can get away with, and that’s just not where MA is.

      So, actually being questioned on his record doesn’t make him feel good. He was uncomfortable … like someone who’s made his bed and now has to lie in it. Pity for him.

      • Well, we'll be putting that to the test!

        Next Monday when he is once again questioned on his record!! So if he’s still off his game we’ll know it wasn’t cuz he was hopped up on Nyquil. ;)

        I still think my theory has legs…that Reid put him off his game before he even left Washington this afternoon. :D

      • bi-partisan record

        At this point, I don’t know that his record really matters, it is what people perceive to be true that matters.

        I have so many friends and acquaintences, most of them off or center-left, that repeat as fact that Scott Brown is “reasonable”, “the most bi-partisan” and “independent”.

        I keep asking myself why Warren isn’t polling closer to the president’s numbersand the answer I come up with is that Brown’s marketing strategy is working. We all know that Brown’s alleged independence is a manufactured image, but I think it will take a lot of work from our side to change people’s minds on that.

        • It's not enough to be "FOR" good ideas...

          I keep asking myself why Warren isn’t polling closer to the president’s numbersand the answer I come up with is that Brown’s marketing strategy is working. We all know that Brown’s alleged independence is a manufactured image, but I think it will take a lot of work from our side to change people’s minds on that.

          … you also have to be actively opposed to BAD ideas.

          Brown likes to toss off the simplistic trope that he’ll push for an idea if it is a good idea. That’s not enough and that is, most certainly (in todays political world) NOT BIPARTISAN. That what EW came close to when she raised the spectre of that clown Inhofe having oversight of the EPA.

  4. Cherokee issue

    not an important issue to anyone who doesn’t read Howie Carr religiously

    While I agree that starting with this issue made Brown look weak and nervous, I think it is a bad idea to dismiss this as an irrelevant idea to people.

    People I interact with regularly who do not read Carr or visit political blogs or listen to right wing radio repeat some version the “Cherokee Warren” slur daily. It is effective because it is a concise, simple, easy to comprehend way to repeat the lie that Warren is dishonest and cheated the system. I can’t tell you how many Democrats and left-leaning individuals I talk to that show utter disgust when discussing the topics of affirmative action or any type of person using any social program (like welfare) to get ahead. And the Brown camp has linked Warren to not only the affirmative action that people already hate, but to lying about heritage to get the supposed unfair advantage. In a close race, this dishonest attack resonates with too many people for my comfort.

    People who disagree may not be hearing it in their circles, but I am hearing it in mine. We dismissed the Swift Boat attacks, we dismissed Muslim/Birth Certificate issue, but that stuff got out of hand. Warren needs better control of the message on this; dismiss this issue at your own peril.

    • And again

      the polls just don’t bear you out. I trust the aggregate polls over someone’s anecdotal evidence. Yes there are people falling for this bullcrap. A lot of them would have been Brown voters anyway, though. It just doesn’t seem to move the polls…even back when Warren was even less well known, in the spring.

    • WBZ

      I don’t know what they are doing on the TV side, but if you listen to WBZ radio, you’d get the impression that the first question was the entire debate – it is the only audio they are playing. Makes one almost think it was all set up to resurrect the story. Well, I guess it is easier than actually checking out all of the other things the candidates said.

  5. I wasn't able to watch...

    …but Brown resurrected the Cherokee flap?! SERIOUSLY?! It’s been so long since it was a story I had almost forgotten about it. That’s for your fringe surrogates to bring up not the candidate. That would be like Romney mentioning Obama’s birth certificate in a presidential debate. It’s way beneath the dignity of such a forum and the candidate, especially one trying to position himself as a moderate, should know better.

  6. I'm with you too Charlie

    I thought Warren was solid. She was clear, on message and pretty measured. She didn’t have any great zingers but made her points, made them repeatedly and even when she was not great in response didn’t get too flustered. She missed a few chances to score in rebuttal, but overall it was pretty darn good.

    Brown has a way of making a lot of his points in a gobbly gook type of way – not really explaining his points very well. He scored a few times, but I don’t think he came across very well, certainy not Senatorial.

    I think Warren will also get better. Brown shot a lot of his arrows, what can he say now that she won’t be ready for. I feel pretty good about this.

  7. Did we read the same thread?

    It didn’t seem so negative to me.

    Look, in a rational world even Martha Coakley would be able to beat an empty suit like Brown.

    Also I suspect most of us love the idea of debates as decisive events, but usually they are no such thing.

    Finally many of us seem to have specific ideas about what Warren “must do” to win, and perhaps she did not press those particular buttons

    Based on any of the above it’s possible to view last night with some disappointment. But the fact is that the debate did not change the race, which is bad news for Brown.

    I also think that objectively Warren did a great job and we should have no regrets.

  8. I'm with you, Charley

    I think she needs a better response on the thing about Travelers Insurance, but other than that, she did great! And she hammered home her support for Obama – did I hear Brown mention Romney at all? Noooooooo…

  9. I guess I might be panicky

    based on past experience, including Scott Brown’s 2010 race. I thought it was so-so. Happy to see many of you and the media have a better take.

    I must confess I like bare-knuckled politics so I don’t really relate to the “not nice” thing. I didn’t see what the issue was with Shannon O’Brien in 2002 or Al Gore in 2000. I get that Brown is known as Mr. Likeable, but his performance didn’t change my view of his basic persona. Maybe because I already thought he was a jerk.

  10. Just a question

    Was it just me or did anyone else think Brown had a much more pronounced local accent last night than he usually does?

  11. Honesty is a big thing....

    That’s why Lizzy claiming to be an Indian matters…because it is dishonest. And if she would lie about that, when she is so clearly white, what else would she lie about?

    • This is not a right-wing talk show

      The candidate’s names are Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown. “Ms. Warren” and “Mr. Brown” are also fine. Your use of “Lizzy” makes me immediately dismiss whatever else you say.

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Fri 28 Apr 9:35 PM