Name a position on health reform, and Scott Brown has taken it. As a state senator, he voted for the Massachusetts health reform law, which became the model for the federal law. Yet he rode to Washington on a pledge to be the 41st (and decisive) vote against health insurance reform legislation in the U.S. Senate. He became the 41st vote, thus blocking a 60-vote super majority needed to end a filibuster, but he couldn’t trump the Democrats’ procedural moves. So now we have a long-awaited health reform law.
Immediately afterward, Brown told Globe reporters Matt Viser and Susan Milligan, “I think it’s important to repeal it.” But, in an interview with Channel Five’s Janet Wu, he said it isn’t a question of ending it but fixing it. A partial fix is in the budget reconciliation bill now before the U.S. Senate, but Brown is said to be opposing that. Which is it?
Brown has two years to let the people of Massachusetts know how he thinks and what he really stands for. He has two years to demonstrate whether he can be more than a centerfold celebrity and a poster-boy for Tea Party anger. Most thoughtful people respect politicians who are not reflexively ideological and can hold and articulate nuanced positions on complicated issues. But Brown has yet to demonstrate he's up to the task. Health care is but one important issue where he can demonstrate both his independence and his leadership, reasons why many fearful and frustrated voters gave him their votes.
Then again, if the Democrat who challenges him in 2012 is South Boston Congressman Steve Lynch, whose “forgainst” positions have been brilliantly laid out by Boston Globe columnist Brian McGrory, then perhaps voters will have a tough choice when looking for clarity of thought and inspiring leadership.
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