As some of you may recall, I endorsed Elizabeth Warren for the US senate as soon as she announced and immediately sent her some money. Although I continued to support her, I was not confident of her chances. Although Massachusetts is a very Democratic state and that seat was the one held by Teddy Kennedy, the incumbent Republican Scott Brown had managed to pull off an upset victory in the 2010 election to fill Kennedy’s remaining term.
I had heard reports that he was a good campaigner who was able to relate well to people and project a moderate image, frequently talking about driving his pickup truck as part of his regular-guy shtick. Even my daughter who lives in Boston and strongly supported Warren said that he seemed very likable and was a good campaigner.
So I was surprised at the way his campaign seemed to take those strengths and shred them by running a campaign of irrelevance and nastiness. As Charles P. Pierce writes:
He spent a month on the nothingburger “scandal” regarding what may or may not have been on Elizabeth Warren’s job applications 20 years ago. Then, he tried to paint her as a corporate shark screwing dying asbestos workers out of their settlement money, only to have a group of those workers, and their lawyers, show up to endorse the work Warren had done. Whereupon, Brown suggested that, perhaps, some of the people appearing in the ads that supported Warren’s work were “actors.” This got him the attention of pissed-off survivors of dead asbestos workers. He was angry. He was petulant. And, on a few occasions, he was more than a little truthless. He ran his own reputation for likability straight into a ditch and, without that, he’s just another Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic state.
In one radio news item that I heard, there was some issue with re-scheduling a debate that had been cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. Brown said that any alternative date would be fine with him, adding, “That’s why I have a truck,. You know, it has four-wheel drive. If she [i.e., Warren] needs a ride, I’m happy to pick her up, and I’ll be there, providing the electricity is on.” I was aghast when I heard it. It had all the patronizing air of “There, there, little woman. I’m a big strong man and I’ll take care of you”. If that comment alienated me, I cannot imagine how women voters in that state would have reacted. And then to make it worse, he was the one who said he could not make any of the dates that were offered and the debate had to be cancelled.
So although not quite in the same class of Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin, Scott Brown should be added to the list of candidates who by themselves turned success into failure.