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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Leading from behind. Way behind

Massachusetts has been used to leaders in the United States Senate. Then it elected Scott Brown.

Whether it is the debt ceiling debate or as simple an act as a video standing against bullying of gay teens, Senator Barn Coat has been AWOL. Silent. The ultimate in followership. No wonder the gang over at Blue Mass Group has taken to calling him the Caboose of the Senate.

Anyone who wants to know where he stands on anything is met with hems and haws -- or words on papers from spokespeople.
“The senator is smart enough to know that once he makes his position known, it becomes highly political, which doesn’t play well with pushing an agenda forward for the country,’’ said Marcie Kinzel.
Even his supposed friends are beginning to notice.
“I would like to see a stronger, firmer position,’’ said Matt Clemente, the Massachusetts director of FreedomWorks, a national organization aligned with the Tea Party. “We worked to get him elected. And whether he’s with us or against us, we deserve to know where he stands rather than be left hung out to dry.’’
I don't think FreedomWorks has much to worry about in the hung out to dry department. Brown has been a good soldier in following their lead rather than what's in the best of interests of working men and women in Massachusetts.

And yes, Ms. Kinzel, things do become highly political when he speaks. That's the idea and Brown certainly wasn't shy about politics when he insisted he was running for the "people's seat."

Brown's action to date certainly reflect a change in the nature of the person in that seat. Ted Kennedy was never afraid to take a position, something that made him beloved or hated, depending on the crowd.

Kennedy was the ultimate leader. Brown is the ultimate follower. Although I am sure he will become more vocal next year when he can speak his piece -- in advertisements he pays for and controls -- telling us what a fighter he is.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the point is that Ted Kennedy was a great leader and Scott Brown, not so much. It seems to me that Ted Kennedy also spent nearly five decades learning the ropes. To expect a freshman senator to be as effective, or to operate with a similar level of confidence, seems far fetched.
More instructive would be comparing Senator Brown's performance thus far with Ted Kennedy's performance between 1962-64, when he also filled a two-year unexpired senate term. By all accounts, he kept his head down, his mouth shut and was deferential to party leaders - just about what you would expect of someone in that position. What we do know of the Ted Kennedy of that era comes largely from video of the 1962 primary against Eddie McCormack, where his attempts at public speaking were embarrassing.
Finally, in order to really get an apples-to-apples comparison between Ted Kennedy and Senator Barn Coat, it would be only fair to give Scott Brown the same advantages: So let's pretend that one of Scott Brown's older brothers was president of the United States, another was Attorney General of the United States, and his father was a supremely well-connected and ruthless political Machievelli with unlimited family wealth. Then let's size up their respective accomplishments, institutional gravitas, etc. after 18 months in office.
I suspect from that perspective Senator Brown wouldn't look so bad.

July 29, 2011 9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great comment!

July 29, 2011 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen nothing in Scott's approach, not his leadership nor voting record, that makes me want to give him six more years.

July 29, 2011 4:48 PM  

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