Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Scott Brown – All squirrely on health reform

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.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.


  1. Scott Brown was put in the starting lineup in the big leagues, without having any time in the minors for seasoning. He is so impressed with his celebrity, that he doesn't know what to say, when to say it, and more important, when to shut up, or more appropriately, say no. There's a reason why so many of his colleagues don't show their faces, and it's not because they're not as good looking as him. It's because they know the value of being "unavailable for comment".

  2. There's usually something refreshing about a politician's functioning without a "handler," but, in this case, maybe it's something he really needs!

  3. Brown is in an impossible position on this issue. His Senate victory came more against the process than the substance of the health care reform initiative, but this is not a sustainable distinction (as the GOP as a whole is perhaps learning). But as he was elected to be the 41st vote against, he can't now support the bill without appearing to betray those who supported him, nationwide as well as in Massachusetts. His reputation would be shot, without question.

    It seems to me that this is the one issue where he really can't demonstrate his independence and leadership.