WBUR

Scott Brown, The New Hero Of The GOP

Sen.-elect Scott Brown, right, with state Rep. James Vallee (D-Franklin), a longtime friend and fellow National Guardsman. (Courtesy James Vallee)

WRENTHAM, Mass. — Since Scott Brown was elected to the U.S. Senate last week, he’s been portrayed as a hero for the Republican party and political underdogs everywhere.

In a single bound, Brown took a leap from a minority senator to the 41st Senate vote against President Obama’s health care overhaul. Brown’s “hero” label is not only something that he appears to embrace, but may also shed light on who he is as a politician.


The Athlete

It’s well-known by now that Scott Brown is a competitive tri-athlete. The man exercises two hours a day, according to his campaign.

“You know, I’m a little younger than Scott, but he’s more physically fit than I am,” said Jim Vallee, a National Guard buddy of Brown’s who recently competed with him in an Army fitness test. “He, like, lapped me, and he, like, slaps me, he gave me a love tap. ‘Come on soldier, step it up.’ That’s what he said.”

To understand why he needs to be so physically fit, you might look to Brown’s childhood, which he describes as rough. His parents were divorced several times, and his mom was on welfare. Brown even pointed to his “issues as a kid.”

“He wasn’t having problems with his mother or his sister or anything,” recalled John Encarnacao, who has known Brown since he was little, “but his step-fathers presented some challenges to him, is what I’ll say.”

According to statements by Brown, his step-fathers were violent. And Brown said that during these troubled times, he had to intervene to protect his mother. Perhaps this is where his identity as a protector took shape. And what better place to act as a protector as a 19-year-old than in the National Guard.

The Soldier

The choice may also have grown out of his parents’ conservative influence.

His father, Bruce Brown, said he and his son both support a strong army.

“Our world is in danger,” Brown said. “You’re going to take some of those individuals from the Far East, just like they did a few days ago, and they’re going to give their lives to blow an airplane up. There are so many things right now that need action, and I think that he’s ready to accept that.”

“He really liked and felt very comfortable standing up for the little guy … Sometimes to the consternation of the command.”

–Rep. James Vallee, National Guard

According to friends, Brown is trying to remain in the National Guard while he’s a senator. Being a soldier is a big part of Brown’s identity, and his friend Jim Vallee said Brown was devastated when he was temporarily terminated from the guard because he didn’t finish necessary classes for a promotion.

“Here’s a guy that had been this for 25 years or whatever, you know,” Vallee said. “I might have said, ‘enough’s enough.’ It gets old. You know, you’re away from your family, you’re traveling overseas. The tempo is high. The pay’s not huge. And here’s a guy that wanted to stay in.”

Like all storybook heroes, Brown is definitely a dude, but he also has a soft side, according to his friend Vallee. Brown is an attorney inside the National Guard. Because he’s a Republican, you might expect him to be a law-and-order guy and represent the prosecution. But instead, Brown represents guard members who face getting kicked out.

“You know, he really liked and felt very comfortable standing up for the little guy,” Vallee said. “And worked hard at it. Sometimes to the consternation of the command.”

Brown has also been a sensitive advocate for soldiers returning to Massachusetts with post traumatic stress disorder.

The Bully?

The “hero image” may have a downside politically.

Mary-Ann Greanier has been following Brown’s career for nearly 20 years and said Brown has used fear-mongering to win elections. “His vociferous opposition to gay rights puts him in the bigot category for me,” she said. “He’s definitely in the bigot column.”

He also famously called it “unusual” when a lesbian lawmaker raised a baby with her domestic partner. Brown went on to vote for an amendment banning gay marriage.

“His vociferous opposition to gay rights puts him in the bigot category for me.”

–Mary-Ann Greanier, Democratic Party activist

When constituents complained to Brown about these positions, some say he retaliated and showed an angry streak. Joe Ferreira wrote a letter to Brown and other lawmakers who voted for the gay-marriage ban.

“The letter was not obscene, not profane, but it was pretty blunt and direct,” Ferreira said. “I used words like ‘miserable’ and ‘vacuous’ about their votes. So I shared the letter with the kids.”

Ferreira is a high-school teacher in Brown’s hometown of Wrentham. When Brown found out Ferreira had read the letter to students, he apparently called the school and asked for equal time to explain his position on gay marriage. When Brown showed up to speak to the students, his agenda had changed.

He had discovered that the students had attacked him and his daughter on Facebook. Ferreira said that Brown spent 20 minutes chastising the students.

“I couldn’t believe that he would choose to do this, that he would choose to, in the role of a public official, react by quoting profanity and obscenity from a Facebook page that really had no meaning and nothing to do with either the legislative process or gay marriage,” Ferreira said.

Ferreira also said Brown falsely accused him of holding his students’ grades hostage if they didn’t convince their parents to vote against Brown.

“Hero” would be the last word Ferreira would use to describe Brown. Instead, he says the new senator is an attention-hungry bully.

Brown has said that he regrets the way he handled the situation at the school. We tried to talk to Brown about this and his plans as a senator, but he wasn’t available.

Brown’s friend Vallee — who also serves in the State House as a Democrat– said Brown is an “unscripted” politician, and that’s what makes him refreshing. He also says Brown will be a maverick, who will vote like a fiscal conservative one day, and fight to restore education funding the next.

But social issues may not be where Brown sets out to make his mark. As a soldier and someone who wants to protect people from danger, Brown has asked to serve on committees dealing with homeland security and armed services.

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  • Ann Marie Rosa

    Where was this type of background reporting before the election? (Scott Brown, The New Hero Of The Republican Party). Before the election, you seemed to rely mostly on ‘he said / she said’ type of reports. Now, after Brown is elected, you do a report about him as a person? This type of report might have made a difference before the election. Disappointing.

  • Nancy Ledoux

    I agree with Ms. Rosa: where was this type of reporting before the election? My brother lives in Wrentham and was introduced to Mr. Brown’s vindictive side after they disagreed publicly on a political issue. My brother then became the subject of professional harassment at the behest of Scott Brown.
    My brother also was appalled and upset when his child was in the captive high school class that had to listen to Mr. Brown’s obscenity-strewn harangue. At least some in his community have long viewed Scott Brown as a person one does not cross.
    Too bad the electorate could not see behind this good looking man and his truck.

  • vinny

    hero??? I laugh at how easily we apply this label these days. At best all politicians running for any office and win are “great salespeople”. After all, it is people who get politicians in, if they fall for their informercials.
    In this election, unfortunately this has been truer than ever, there was no coverage whatsever, only informecials.

  • Please follow up

    Ms. Toness,

    Please follow up on what exactly the “little guys” in the guard were charged with.

    Thanks

  • mcm

    awful report…truly shallow

  • Bob O’Reilly

    I will have to say that I was appalled when I heard this report. Where was BIANCA VAZQUEZ TONESS report two weeks when it would have mattered. Too little too late. So now we are stuck for 3 years with someone vindictive and narrow minded. A senator who relied on the politics of fear, ignorance and resentment to attain high office. Really you folks should have run this before the election.

    To make up for it you need to follow this “gentleman” from Massachusetts closely. Report what he does, says and votes. Report the truth not the spin.

    Whether you were afraid of his vindictive side or suckered like his supporters. Either way you failed at your job.

    Bob O’Reilly

  • Rudolf

    Up to now there were only Democrats in Congress (House and Senate) representing the state of Massachusetts. Now there is one non-Democrat; big deal. We are still short of proportional representation.

  • http://n/a Tom Johnson

    While we reflect on this, Senator-elect Brown is sitting at the foot of Leslie Graham and Mitch McConnell learning to say no to the President’s agenda. This feat made possible by a massive theatrical promotion of a truck driving candidate, right out of central casting, and who has virtually no track record of any merit from his state senatorial tenure.

    When the bouyant Brown supporters settle down and realize that a neophite Republican senator from a Democratic state, whose campaign was loaded with out-of-state financial contributions from right wing sources, has little hope for bringing in jobs; money; or other favorable resources back to that state. He will, however strengthen the Republican “Southern Block” which has absolutely no respect for the “Elite Northeast” and its interests.
    A successful political Ponzi scheme that provides the new seanator-elect with the best medical plan in the nation, so that he can vote no on one for the rest of the nation.

    Kafka- Where are you when we need you?

  • Hardy Kornfeld

    Now that Mr. Brown will become the distinguished junior Senator from Massachusetts it will be interesting to see how he acts on the positions vaguely stated on his website (http://www.scottbrown.com/Legislative%20Issues.htm). He makes a strong statement about campaign finance reform. If he truly believes in this then he will be at odds with his fellow Republicans who are celebrating the Supreme Court decision to permit corporations (including foreign corporations) to spend unlimited sums of money on political ads. Perhaps he really does believe that corporations are like individual people worthy of all the rights and protections guaranteed by the Constitution. If so, maybe we’ll find him fighting for the right of corporations to bear arms. I’m prepared for major disappointment with Mr. Brown’s service to our State.

  • Linda Orel

    I don’t care about Mr. Brown’s upbringing. But I do care about his record on policy formulation and leadership in the state senate. And he is sorely lacking on both. He’s a smart man and he’s good looking. But he’s also mean, inconsistent, and unresourceful. I don’t have faith, based on his record, that he will adequately represent the interests of Massachusetts or US citizens. I hope the press watches Brown closely over the next three years and does a more effective job of reporting on his work, and the lack thereof.

  • dv

    THIS IS HOW TERRIBLE BROWN REALLY IS!! Do you want someone like this as Senator? Voters should have known of his record. Although I supported Coakley, I feel ashamed that my state has elected this person.

  • DeeDee Bindernagel

    Let me get this straight. Kids had attacked him and his daughter. He quoted their profanity and obscenity and you all are upset with HIM? I don’t agree with everything reported (assuming it is true), but your report has a lot more good stuff than bad, certainly better than anything else I have come across in politicians recently.

  • Cheyne Johnson

    This reporting was available but not portrayed before the election. This man was not attacked. Stuff happens on the internet all the time, life goes on. This man is a professional, a politician, a National Guardsman and a father, he should know how to be a role model. I am an alumnus of that high school. Those were my friends that happened to. That man decided to bring his war to young children at an educational institution and didn’t think twice about it.

  • George

    He never called himself a hero. Give me a break. The writer wants to imply not only that he portrays himself a hero but also say he “appears” to embrace it. Is he proud to serve his country? Yes, I think that is a reasonable inference. But the hero braggadocio? Leave fiction writing to the commercial world.

  • jamela

    I wish there had been more objective/investigative reporting on the candidates. As an American living abroad I have closely watched this race, as one of the reasons I am not living in the USA is due to a pre existing health condition and insurance covereage. Unfortunately, it seems that since MA has a type of public insurance, the rest of the country will not.
    Character issues are always in play in politics, when Mr. Brown first announced his intent to run, I viewed his website, and found it lacking in substance, yesterday I again viewed it and do you know what I found? Mr. Brown had some new “issues” including a new statement on Israel http://www.brownforussenate.com/issues, do you think that has anything to do with the fact that a rather large contribution of $750,000 came from the Republican Jewish Coalition? http://www.rjchq.org/Newsroom/archivelisting.aspx?m=1&y=2010&si=66&ri=66&b=0&f=0&type=blogs
    I am almost afraid to “dig” any further, some people have skeletons in their closets, it seems that Mr. Brown has bodies.

  • Imran Nasrullah

    The “anger” Scott Brown has tapped into is perplexing. Eight years of a Republican administration bankrupted this country, financially, morally, politically, and reputationally. Now after one year, the expectation is Democrats wave a magic wand and fix everything. And when the fix doesn’t arrive, they are angry? Other than to reject Obama’s proposals, what specifically is Brown offering? What is his specific proposal to offer everyone with healthcare? How will he stop terrorism since he is the “hero”? Spend more on the war, which is what Republicans do anyways. What is his specific proposal to stimulate the economy? Waving the magic “lower tax” wand is not going jump start the economy. If Brown wants to be Senator, fine. But he must provide a solid, specific proposal that lays out how and why his plan will work.

  • Dana Franchitto

    More “hero” nonsense. excuse me I live in a democratic society, where we the people solve our problems. Conservatives thrive on hero myths which is why WBUR should be a bit more critical in using the word.

  • Steve Tiebley

    I have lived in MA my entire life and grew up in a tough “working class”, as the liberals like to say, Democratic household. Having a Scott Brown go to Washington and actually represent the people that have to work and pay taxes in this state is the best thing that has happened to the state of MA. This guy may not be “Obama perfect” as far as grace and so called Harvard intellect” but may be the liberals in MA and the country can come to grips that the state and federal government may be getting a little too big for their bridges?? And may be wasting a bit too much of your hard earned tax dollars??? Let’s get sanity back to Washington and please no more it’s George Bush’s fault. Man that is getting old.

  • Bettye Mondy

    Yes I agree with one of the writers who said that the Repubs had 8 years to screw things up but they expect the president to fix everything in a year. what a bunch of bull. Grow up and just know that as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. it is so ironic to me that some of the things that they complain about are some of the same things that Bush and his crew tried to push during his time. Let us pray for the continuing safety of our nation and find something else to crow about. Teach your kids the ugliness of bullying. Yes, that will be something that can occupy your time. Try it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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