As his polling advantage evaporates, Sen. Scott Brown (R) is desperately trying to convince Massachusetts voters that his partisanship on Capitol Hill is a mirage, and that he’s actually a moderate independent. As Rep. Barney Frank (D) noted on the show last night, after the latest debate between Brown and Elizabeth Warren, the Republican even went so far as to say he may not vote for Mitch McConnell for majority leader.
But the efforts quickly fell apart when Brown was asked to name his “model Supreme Court justice.”
For those who can’t watch clips online, the Republican senator, after a lengthy pause, first named far-right Justice Antonin Scalia. This was no small admission – for all of Scott Brown’s efforts to give the appearance of moderation, here he was, after pausing to reflect on his ideal justice, identifying one of the least moderate justices Americans have seen in a generation.
After months of trying to assure voters he’ll ignore his party’s right-wing inclinations on a host of key issues, Brown endorsed a partisan Supreme Court ideologue who’s eager to do exactly what Brown claims to oppose – including reject privacy and reproductive rights.
In context, it’s true that if you read the transcript, you’ll see that the Republican senator went on to mention Justices Kennedy, Roberts, and eventually Sotomayor. But as the clip makes clear, Brown only mentioned the other names when the audience booed his praise for Scalia, and the senator felt the need to scramble.
For much of the media, the key line in the debate was apparently Brown’s pre-planned “zinger” about not being a student in Warren’s classroom. But theatrical sound bites notwithstanding, what voters actually learned last night is that Brown’s centrist facade is thin and easily chipped away. Anyone who sees Antonin Scalia as a “model Supreme Court justice” isn’t a moderate.
For her part, Warren, who seemed delighted by Brown’s answer, identified Justice Kagan as her model justice.