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Brown Won Because Warren Didn't Pounce

In the second debate, Sen. Scott Brown had a consistent message: I’m independent; Elizabeth Warren wants to raise your taxes. Warren was put on the defensive when she was dealt a bad hand by moderator David Gregory. He made her Native American heritage the lead-off question, the second time that’s happened in two debates. The result: Brown declared, “She was white until she turned 38.” Crude, but memorable. In a nutshell, that’s how Brown handled himself.

Brown also punished her on her outside legal work in an asbestos case where she represented Travelers Insurance. Again, this was a question that came up in the first debate and her answer was no clearer than it was then. Either her campaign or Warren herself was not prepared for a tight, strong answer. She finally declared (too late) that it was a case of one insurance company suing another insurance company.

Warren wasn’t as poised as she had been in the first debate. She lacked a consistent theme (other than Brown’s siding with billionaires and millionaires). But her real problem was missing several chances to go after Brown for political blunders.

One of the juiciest may have been his embarrassingly sloooow answer when he was asked who his favorite Supreme Court justice is. When he finally said Antonin Scalia, Warren seemed audibly amazed, as did many in the live audience. Warren said Elena Kagan, but neglected to say Brown didn’t vote for her even though she was from Massachusetts.

Another blown opportunity occurred when Warren let Brown skate on explaining his silent support for Mitt Romney as a matter of geography. “He’s campaigning all over the country; I’m campaigning here.” In Brown’s world apparently you can only support someone if you happen to be in the same state as your candidate.

Warren not only didn’t pin Romney on Brown, she didn’t pin the GOP on Brown. What about Todd Akin? Should we assume Brown supports Claire McCaskill?

Brown doesn’t mind repeating himself. In fact, he seems to find comfort in the litany of energy sources he supports, like William Jennings Bryan in “Inherit the Wind” reciting the books of the Bible. Again, Warren let him off the hook on his refusal to support wind energy and siding with big oil while claiming to be a friend of the motorist.

Brown declared, without challenge, that he’s a union member — what a fat pitch that was! He’s a member of AFTRA-SAG, the actors and artists union from his modeling days. He wasn’t exactly a Teamster driving a beer wagon.

Warren needs some new material. “Fighting for middle class families” is a poll-tested cliché that has no edge. Who’s against middle class families?

Brown has an instinct for nativist rhetoric, using Warren’s ancestry as an attack on affirmative action, opposing the DREAM Act for letting illegals jump the line, finding ways to inject “Harvard” and “professor” into his snide answers.

The good news: Warren will get better. The bad news: If she doesn’t, Brown will get away with not paying a price for being a Republican in a state where the GOP candidate for president is going to get creamed.

Dan Payne is WBUR’s Democratic analyst. For more political commentary, go to our Payne & Domke page.

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  • RotisD

    Payne, sorry but you got it backwards — Brown is the one who ‘needs some new material’.

    But since I don’t expect ‘new’ that from ole “you’re doing a heckuva job Brownie” –

    – I’m one white male among many in Massachusetts who will not be voting for the self-congratulating, self-proclaiming ‘one of us’ Brown.
     
    I’ve never seen someone in my neck of the woods here in Southeastern Massachusetts who is so disrespectful towards women, toward minorities, towards educators as my next-town-over neighbor and fellow veteran Mr. Scott Brown.
     
    Speaking of serve, come Nov 6, some pie will be served to Brown by the people of Massachusetts, but it’s doubtful he will like the type –
     
    – humble.

  • Rogermcarter

    The day before the polls came out showing Warren had pulled ahead, you and your Republican counterpart were highly critical of vWarren’s campaign. I am a Warren supporter, but I am also a realist. Now that Warren is in the lead, the two of you continue to pounce on her . As a WBUR supporter I wish they would replace both of you with objective view points. I’ve stopped listening, but have wanted a forum to express my frustration, with all Elizabeth does wrong in the eyes of both of you, she was ahead as of this morning, she must be doing SOMETHING right.

  • jefe68

    Scott Brown sounded like he was using the GOP talking script.
    Brown was lying about his record: Brown voted with the Republicans on 30 of 32 Senate votes since winning the election to use the filibuster to block votes on legislation that had at least 50 votes. Well I’m not sure that’s exactly what one would call very independent.

    Scott Brown was also one of the most consistently right-wing members of the Massachusetts State legislature.

    Scott Brown worked for nine years as a real-estate attorney, and worked as a
    title agent for Fidelity National, the parent company for LPS, one of
    the nastiest document forgery outfits in the business during the housing
    bubble.

    David Gregory was awful but that was nothing new. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an awful debate moderator.

  • Magpiemusic

    Thank you for a little more honest analysis.  Todd’s is some bizarre dream sequence.  Was he at the same debate we all watched?

  • http://profiles.google.com/dshaky1 David Shakespeare

    Not the debate I watched.  Warren won this one hands down.  A much better performance than the first one.

  • John_of_Medford28

    Was it me or did David Gregory allow Scott Brown to go on and on?  I only saw the first 30 minutes of the debate and it seemed that in the first 15 minutes, Brown got the lion’s share of speaking time.

    Mr. Payne and Mr. Domke, I usually look forward to hearing commentary from both of you, but I have to say this was one of your worst. 

  • J__o__h__n

    Does anyone really believe Brown won’t vote for Mitch McConnell?  Despite his campaign rhetoric, Brown is a Republican.  Proof he isn’t a moderate: he named Scalia as his favorite Supreme Court Justice. 

  • TJohn76051

    What Gregory missed was a question to Brown about his supporting the “White Supremecy movement and the Women as sex objects with no control over their bodies” philosophy espoused by the tea party and many of his financial supporters.
    Maybe next debate we’ll get some in depth questions..
    Also- Brown will, if elected have four taxpayer supported government pensions (plus his wife’s) and free medical care for both, forever, as a retired National Guardsman. How does this reconcile with his signed oath to Grover Norquist not to raise taxes. His pensions- all of them- will be paid by taxpayers. Where will his pension support come from? Will he take away Medicare and Medicaid for needy seniors while languishing in fully taxpayer supported pensions? He is not a veteran, but he will have “Tri-Care for life which exceeds veteran benefits.
    For Hypocracy, he gets an A+ and goes to the head of the class.

    • Sinclair2

      Correction:  Senator Brown IS a veteran.  (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sticking up for him)  I’m not voting for him because he’s not qualified to hold the office of a senator representing Massachusetts.  He should run for office in Mississippi or Alabama where he would fit quite well.

  • wilks79

    Eh, who cares.  Brown is most likely going to win anyway.  Warren is a little extreme in her views, even for Massachusetts voters. Close, but Brown will probably squeeze the win out in the end.

    • J__o__h__n

      Brown admires Scalia.  Who is the extreme candidate?

      • wilks79

        Well, I’m guessing you’re more liberal, so you perceive Scalia as ‘extreme’, while a more conservative voter would obviously think liberals like Warren are the extreme ones. 

        Either way, you’re just playing semantics with my comment and keying in on one word – extreme – when my point it that Warren will most likely lose. 

        • J__o__h__n

          Scalia is widely considered to be an extreme conservative.  That is not a left wing fantasy.

  • Skylark Lemon

    Wow, Clarence Darrow was in “Gone with the Wind”?? And as a seven-year-old kid he recited the books of the Bible? Impressive.

    But now on to your commentary — you say Brown “won” because Warren didn’t do a good enough job of pointing out all his inconsistencies and lies? I would say that’s a challenge for anybody, even a seasoned public speaker like Elizabeth Warren. That’s Brown’s “victory”? Wow.

    • WBUR News

      We’ve corrected the “Gone with the Wind” error. Our apologies. 

  • Fgfgarias

    Warren didn’t pounce because Dick Gregory didn’t give her either the time or the opportunity. He badgered both candidates, but even when he was pressing Brown, it was a guy to guy thing. Like, the important thing was to let the guy have his say. Both Brown and gregory referred to Elizabeth Warren as “she” as if intimating that’she’ was just there on the side. These methods created an ambiance that lent to the overall male dominant and often racist identity/reactions from the audience [all those cheers when Scott Brown said he did not support the Dream Act; all those guys in suits in the front rows. Where were the women?  It made me cringe.] The whole performance –Gregory and Brown– came off as dismissive of Warren, and the whole ambiance was hostile to her.

  • Sinclair2

    Will somebody in Warren’s camp bring up the fact that Brown’s simple LAW experience has been working as a PART-TIME lawyer in real estate (passing papers) and TWO DAYS PER MONTH as a JAG officer before he was elected to his current position? The JAG officer legal exposure is pretty much showing up, reading and shuffling paperwork. His bragging rights in the National Guard are serving over thirty years. This amounts to two days per month and two weeks per year of active duty which computes to a total of 3.12 actual years in the guard.

    This debate is nothing but a contest between a photogenic street-wise, fast talking run-of-the-mill part-time lawyer and a highly skilled legal scholar and professor  from Harvard Law School.  Place them in front of a general audience on television and who do you think is going to win.   What an impressionable country we live in.  If Brown ends up winning, it won’t be a surprise, and he certainly won’t represent Massachusetts.

    • Matt Carleo

      Thanks Senator Brown for the 3.12 years of service to the National Guard! 

      It’s exactly 3.12 more years of service to this country then Professor Warren has given!

      • jefe68

        That’s how you judge people running for office? Whether or not they have served in the National Guard? You should read up on the presidency of one US Grant and Andrew Jackson to name a few, to get a perspective on the how being in the military has nothing to do with being a good public servant.

        By the way None of the last 4 presidents have served, well GW Bush did some token time in the Texas Air National Guard.

        • Matthew Carleo

          No, that isn’t how I judge a candidate, especially for US Senate.

          I just thought that Sinclair2 comment about how his 30 years of service ONLY amounted to 3.2 years of serving when combined was unfair. 

    • working_for_change

      And if Brown wins it will continue the agenda of misogyny expressed by the Massachusetts electorate, which combined with slavish indifference to the pathetic record of candidates who have taken the no tax increase pledge continues to yield politics that is driven by fear and impotence. 

  • Matt Carleo

    Scott Brown won that debate hands down. 

    He offered specific policies that he supported. Talked about actual legislation that he’s filed and been able to pass. In the least productive session of congress in our history, Brown was actually able to get things done. That’s pretty impressive to me. 

    Compare that with Ms. Warren. Her answers where vague at best. Her answer to the student who was worried about finding work after graduating should have been let down by the professors answer; whereas Brown gave specific policy proposals he supports, and even websites for her to visit to help her find work. 

    I find it slightly amusing that because Professor Warrens supporters know she lost that convincingly, they’re blaming the moderator. While he’s no Tim Russert (RIP) I thought that Mr. Gregory did a very fair job.  

  • Carl J. Britton, Jr.

    Mr. Payne clearly didn’t see the same debate I did.  Elizabeth Warren was relaxed, personable, coherent and forceful.  Brown was defensive, jumbled, repetitive, snarky and disingenuous to the point of dishonesty.  

    And Warren maintained her demeanor in the face of a seriously unbalanced moderation by David Gregory.  (It wasn’t you, John_of_Medford, Gregory DID allow Brown to go on for as long as he wanted, while repeatedly trying — and in one case succeeding  – to cut Warren off.)As I also said in my reply to Todd Domke’s partisan hatchet job analyzing this debate, Warren was going for an effectiveness against Brown that I think she very much achieved.  It wasn’t necessary for her to “pounce” on Brown at the points Dan Payne sites — Brown’s foolishness spoke for itself in those instances.  And remember, Mr. Payne, when women in politics go for “pouncing”, people like you call them “schoolmarmish” and “shrewish”! The only issue in the first debate that I didn’t think Warren handled effectively was Brown’s charge concerning her involvement in the asbestos and mining cases — although when I found out how complicated the facts were (which Brown has twisted into their opposites), I could understand why she would be reluctant to try to explain the details in a 30 second debate response.  Quite the contrary to Dan Payne’s impression, however, I think that, in this second debate, Warren very cogently put those questions to rest — and even, quite rightly, turned the tables on Brown for ginning up this “character” issue.I thought the same of her handling of the Native American “issue”, which it would be a real travesty to see any other moderators handing Brown to start either of the next two debates with.

    As for Warren’s “[lacking] a consistent theme”, were you LISTENING to what she said, Mr. Payne?  Her twin themes for this second debate were the same as they have been throughout the campaign:  (1) She’s for policies that will help the struggling middle and lower classes, while Brown has shown himself to be on the side of the wealthy and powerful.  (2) She will be a supporter of President Obama’s agenda, while Brown is advertising himself (as he did when he was first elected) as the vote that will give the Senate to the Republicans so that they can block the President’s agenda.  (The point shouldn’t be what Republicans Warren can work with — it should be whether or not any Republicans will cease their obstruction and work with her and her fellow Democrats!)

    And as for the “new material” Mr. Payne wishes Warren had provided, I would very much have liked to hear more about her wanting to bring the troops home from Afghanistan sooner than the President’s time table.  Maybe in the next two debates the moderator will do better than to bring up foreign policy in passing during the last few minutes of the debate.

    I think the bottom line of this debate was that, while Warren continues to get better, Brown will also pay more and more of a price for being part of the Republican wall of obstruction as this campaign gets closer to election day.

    • janesoutham

      Agree with Payne 100 %. Additionally today Herald reporter Hillary Chabot- the reporter to whom Warren said she “didn’t know” why Harvard was touting as a minority- and Warren described as mishearing the question- says that Warren lied in the debate, and that Warren heard her perfectly fine.

      Warren is not used to getting called on her lies. I and others who know how to investigate will keep her feet to the fire.

  • Carl J. Britton, Jr.

    Mr. Payne clearly didn’t see the same debate I
    did.  Elizabeth Warren was relaxed, personable, coherent and forceful.
     Brown was defensive, jumbled, repetitive, snarky and disingenuous to
    the point of dishonesty.  

     

    And Warren maintained her demeanor in the
    face of a seriously unbalanced moderation by David Gregory.  (It wasn’t
    you, John_of_Medford, Gregory DID allow Brown to go on for as long as he
    wanted, while repeatedly trying — and in one case succeeding  – to
    cut Warren off.)

    As I also said in my reply to Todd Domke’s
    partisan hatchet job analyzing this debate, Warren was going for an
    effectiveness against Brown that I think she very much achieved.  It
    wasn’t necessary for her to “pounce” on Brown at the points Dan Payne
    sites — Brown’s foolishness spoke for itself in those instances.  And
    remember, Mr. Payne, when women in politics go for “pouncing”, people
    like you call them “schoolmarmish” and “shrewish!

    The only issue in the first debate that I didn’t
    think Warren handled effectively was Brown’s charge concerning her involvement
    in the asbestos and mining cases — although when I found out how complicated
    the facts were (which Brown has twisted into their opposites), I could
    understand why she would be reluctant to try to explain the details in a 30
    second debate response.  Quite the contrary to Dan Payne’s impression,
    however, I think that, in this second debate, Warren very cogently put those
    questions to rest — and even, quite rightly, turned the tables on Brown for
    ginning up this “character” issue.

    I thought the same of her handling of the Native
    American “issue”, which it would be a real travesty to see any other
    moderators handing Brown to start either of the next two debates with.

     

    As for Warren’s “[lacking] a consistent
    theme”, were you LISTENING to what she said, Mr. Payne?  Her twin
    themes for this second debate were the same as they have been throughout the
    campaign:  (1) She’s for policies that will help the struggling middle and
    lower classes, while Brown has shown himself to be on the side of the wealthy
    and powerful.  (2) She will be a supporter of President Obama’s agenda,
    while Brown is advertising himself (as he did when he was first elected) as the
    vote that will give the Senate to the Republicans so that they can block the
    President’s agenda.  (The point shouldn’t be what Republicans Warren can
    work with — it should be whether or not any Republicans will cease their
    obstruction and work with her and her fellow Democrats!)

     

    And as for the “new material” Mr.
    Payne wishes Warren had provided, I would very much have liked to hear more
    about her wanting to bring the troops home from Afghanistan sooner than the
    President’s time table.  Maybe in the next two debates the moderator will
    do better than to bring up foreign policy in passing during the last few
    minutes of the debate.

     

    I think the bottom line of this debate was that,
    while Warren continues to get better, Brown will also pay more and more of a
    price for being part of the Republican wall of obstruction as this
    campaign gets closer to election day.

  • Carl J. Britton, Jr.

    Sorry for the double post.  I tried to resubmit to reinsert the paragraph breaks that were inexplicably deleted from my first submission — but that only seemed to make things worse…

  • john_koenig

     Warren: I can work with Dick Lugar.
     Romney: He’s not gonna be there.
     Warren: Oh.

    Say goodnight, Fauxcahontas.

    • deanrd

      That’s not exactly how it went.  She was just trying to come up with a name, but clearly, she knew Lugar was gone. 
      Name a Republican willing to work with Democrats.  In fact, name a liberal Republican.  Democrats have plenty of conservatives.  Republicans have white conservatives and that’s pretty much it.

      • john_koenig

         She most certainly did NOT know Lugar was gone. Even HuffPo called her on that.
        Liberal Republicans? Collins is a liberal. Graham works with the left, ditto Brown, McCain, Alexander and Hatch.

  • NC

    I agree with Carl that I saw Elizabeth as the clear winner of this debate.   Brown hedged, hemmed, hawed and fell back on his tired old arguments about being an independent and bipartisan while continuing to push for deregulation and tax breaks for the millionaires (those poor things).  He is a registered Republican who is attempting to use the word “independent” to gain popularity in MA.   Yet his voting record clearly shows he supports the Republican agenda — voting against jobs bills that would have brought thousands of jobs to our state because to support them would have meant asking millionaires to pay the tiniest percentage more in taxes to pay for them (when they already pay less than the average person making 25,000 a year).   He voted against equal pay for equal work for women, and he voted for the Blunt amendment that would have allowed any insurer or employer which administers an insurance plan to deny coverage of any procedure or prescription which is in contrast to their own religious or moral convictions and that would have put health care decisions, such as those relating to abortions and female preventative care, into the hands of peoples’ bosses.  

    He would let the Bush tax cuts expire on the middle class, adopt the Romney/Ryan plan that would eliminate charitable deductions and mortgage interest deductions on middle class tax returns, just to avoid having the uber wealthy pay their fair share.   There is nothing about Scott Brown that speaks to the middle class.   He is, just as Warren stated, lockstep with the far right on EVERY vote that matters to the middle class.    I would hope that Warren will keep hammering away at his voting record and that future moderators of these debates will not spend endless time going over issues that are sideline noise and chatter, and that don’t focus on what we really want to discuss here — jobs, jobs and more jobs.

    Also, we need to make sure in this very important election year that we don’t end up with a House and Senate Republican majority.  The very future of women’s rights over their own reproductive choices and healthcare hangs in the balance.  

    And let’s clue the clueless in — the uber wealthy will still be uber wealthy if they had to pay a “hard” tax of 40 – 45% of their income with no tax shelters, havens or loopholes.   They just may not be able to buy that 3rd 150 ft yacht with solid gold fixtures, or their 7th 12 million dollar vacation home and 3rd cadillac.  Cry me a River.   I think most of middle class America, who, the day prior to their next payday are down to .12 cents in their bank accounts, and with 401K’s still suffering from the Bush era policies that collapsed our financial system, will find it heard to shed a tear for wealthy the likes of the Koch Bros, the Romney’s or the Ryans.   And hopefully they won’t fall for the deregulation being pushed again by Brown (shades of Bush) and the tax cuts that never created a single job here, but did wonders for creating those jobs abroad (I work for one of those corporations, and I know!).   Ask ME where the jobs are — India, Singapore, Panama, Costa Rica, Russia, and the Eastern European Block.  Don’t be fooled into thinking tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy will go to American jobs.  It’s a pipe dream.

    • Ronaldtheriot25

      NC  Why aren
      t you working with Elizabeth on this debate prep, You have a clear,concise and well grounded understanding of the Issues including the wedge     Issues…It seem to me by her last two performances, that she’s using her little sister to prep debate cause they are clearly unprepared for almost any question… Elizabeth clearly needs to replace those prepping her for these very Important meetings, and from what I see she’s not winning….

  • deanrd

    I once watched David Gregory ask Jeb Bush, “How does it make you feel when this president tries to pass all of his failures over to your brother?”

    DG consistantly asks Republicans softball questions and when the slimiest things Republicans do comes up, he says, “Both parties do it”.

    With Republicans owning both voter suppression and voter fraud, and the non stop lying, Democrats don’t come close to Republicans.  And Republicans going on about Obama “Marxist”.  Do they even know what “Marxist” means?  Rick Santorum said Republicans have no smart people.  Finally, something we can agree on.

  • Sinclair2

    Thanks to Elizabeth Warren for her SERVICE  and work as an advisor to President Obama for setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  She made protecting our service members a top priority.  Elizabeth recruited and worked closely with Holly Petraeus, wife of General David Petraeus, to launch the CFPB’s Office of Servicemember Affairs.  Elizabeth and Holly traveled to meet with active-duty servicemembers and families at military bases, including the base where her brothers completed their basic training, to discuss financial issues.

    Elizabeth SERVED for the commander in chief and her three brothers SERVED our country in addition to an uncle who is a highly decorated Korean War veteran.

    • janesoutham

      Like the way Scott Brown has SERVED in the National Guard for the last 30 years, has won awards for his military work..

      Too bad Warren didn’t have the grace to thank him for his service, the way he thanked her brother for his service.

      She’s a taker  - NOT a giver.

  • Mybhma

    “Brown will get away with not paying a price for being a Republican in a state…”. Is being a republican somehow a crime in this state? Is this the only qualification Warren has, not being a republican?

  • TJohn76051

    Brown is not a veteran, as one comment suggests. He is a career National Guardsman, a noble sacrifice, but to be a veteran under federal guidelines, a guardsman must serve 180 consecutive days on “active duty’ status during a time of war- (Not Acitive Duty for training”- which is the official term used for his drill status) .His military record does not show that kind of active duty commitment, though many other MA national guardsmen made the cut and are “veterans”.

    • Sinclair2

      A veteran is one who has served at least 180 consecutive days on active duty regardless if it’s during wartime or peace time.  Many people think that a veteran is only a person who has served during wartime.  Not true.

  • Estengel10

    As a Warren suppporter, I will admit to being sorely disappointed with her performance in last night’s debate. As Dan Payne notes, she missed more than a few opportunities to score badly needed points without being snide.  Sinclair2 below thanks Warren for her service at the Consumer Protection Bureau -with more detail than Warren ever provides about that service.  Those are the specifics the Warren campaign needs, not the mantra about being for America’s middle class families.  Part of me always thinks, “And ….?” while another part is thinking, “will she please mention the underserved too.”  That is a population group almost unmentioned by anyone these days.  And, with the debate at a university, isn’t it amazing there wasn’t one mention of student financial aid!?

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