Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Scott Brown had better watch out for Eliz. Warren

In general, the Dems are in big trouble in 2012, Senate-race-wise. They start with a small 53-47 majority (counting two independents who currently caucus as Dems.) They they have to defend 22 seats versus just 10 for the Repubs. They have six incumbents who are retiring, compared with just two for the Repubs. And While many of the currently Dem-held seats are in red or purple states, the Repubs have only one seat up from a purple state (Olympia Snowe in Maine) and one from a blue state (Scott Brown in Mass.) The Dems are going to lose some of those red states and they need a pickup in Massachusetts fairly desperately as an offset.

Scott Brown’s come from behind win over Dem nominee Martha Coakley in the Jan. 2010 special election to replace Ted Kennedy was a huge deal, as it cost the Dems their then 60-vote filibuster-majority. Coming in blue-blue Massachusetts, which hadn’t elected a Repub senator since 1972, it was also a signal of how strong a wind was developing behind the Repubs.

It was also largely about a more talented candidate (Brown) beating a very week one.  Brown has had relatively high approval ratings during his term and must face the electorate in 2012, very likely in the person of Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor, consumer advocate, blunt critic of abuses in the financial industry and, until recently a special assistant to Pres. Obama.

Warren recently had a very successful rollout and the polling in the hypothetical Brown v. Warren race has changed dramatically, with one recent poll showing her with a statistically insignificant lead over Brown.

Despite her Ivy League ties (which The New Republic sees as a potential breeding ground for political problems for her) Warren has displayed a very down-to-earth quality since she started doing the TV talk shows.If you haven’t caught her act, the clip below give you a taste. Brown had better watch out.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/23/2011 - 03:21 pm.

    Yep, I saw that clip yesterday, and have read a few things she’s written, as well as some things from the commentariat about her. This is a smart and capable woman, and I totally agree – Brown had better have his “A” game going or she’ll roll right over him. She certainly says the right things to get a lot of non-millionaires with no particular admiration for Wall Street to vote for her, and she’s already shown that she’s a lot more than a rhetorical flourish.

    It’s both distressing and interesting that her “day job” as a Harvard Law School professor might work against her with at least some “townies” in an election, and I agree with TNR that how she does in the election might well depend upon how well she responds to that oft-used canard of “elitism.” Based on the clip, and on televised testimony to Congress, as well as what little of her writing that I’ve seen, Massachusetts Republicans are going to have a hard time making the “ivory tower elitist” charge stick, and if she can fight that off, her bonafides as a consumer advocate will likely get her a big following. I hope so.

  2. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 09/23/2011 - 04:01 pm.

    I thought we have one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world? Is she in favor of raising the corporate tax rate?
    Can you find one other politician who is in favor of raising the corporate tax rate?
    What % of Americans actually pays a federal income tax?

  3. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 09/23/2011 - 04:03 pm.

    I agree with your assessment, Mr. Black, but I have to admit that I was distracted by the substitution of “weak” with “week.”

  4. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 09/23/2011 - 04:14 pm.

    I’m wildly underwhelmed by Warren’s arguments in the second part there. “No one got rich on their own.” That’s obviously true. And anyone who is putting forth the idea that they could be plunked down as the sole person on a planet and get rich should feel duly refuted.
    As to the bit about the various taxes, well Ms Warren, if you want to restrict gov’t monies to roads, schools, fire departments, protection (military and police) and the justice system that would be WONDERFUL! I’d vote for you in a heartbeat and urge other Dems to join in on your philosophy.
    Of course you won’t stop there. You’ll want to give money to various green schemes and other corporations that you find friendly. You’ll give out money to cowboy poets and other silly things. You’ll plow billions into pipe dream rail projects.
    You’ll decide that gov’t should ‘advise’ (read: run) various industries like healthcare. When that doesn’t work out you’ll blame the small vestige of free market left in the system. You’ll give bailout money to companies that should be allowed to fail.
    In short, you’re offering a huge bait and switch.

  5. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/23/2011 - 05:24 pm.

    Mr. Gotzman:
    We have one of the highest corporate marginal tax RATES in the world, but in this real world few American corporations pay it, so that real American corporate tax rates (in term of percentage of profits paid in taxes) are actually among the lowest in the industrialized world.

    And earned income is not the only federal tax.
    Those whose income come from investments and investments pay little or no income tax. This includes both retirees and the wealthy, whose income does not come primarily from salary and wages. The working poor pay payroll taxes, even if they pay little or no income taxes.

    So talking about the percentage of people who pay federal income taxes (as opposed to all federal taxes) is misleading.

  6. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 09/24/2011 - 08:00 am.

    “I would rather be governed by the first 2000 people in the Manhattan phone book than the entire faculty of Harvard.” – William F. Buckley Jr.

  7. Submitted by will lynott on 09/24/2011 - 01:15 pm.

    Sorry piece of misdirection, #4. You need a reminder that the thrust of Warren’s remarks went to why the rich should pay more in taxes, which makes her thoughts on how their success is a function of support from all of us abundantly relevant. The subject was not how tax money should be disbursed.

    And your presumption in deigning to tell her how she would conduct that disbursement is–well, I occasionally need to tell people I have many gifts, but mindreading is not one of them. You should think about how that might apply to your own situation.

    If and when she reveals what she would like to accomplish in Congress and how she intends to pay for it, you’ll have facts to work with. If so inclined at that time, fire away.

  8. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 09/24/2011 - 05:58 pm.

    Will #7, if it turns out that Warren wants to spend tax money only on truly essential things then I will come back here and apologize for my presumptions. Do you honestly think that will happen?
    And sorry, I don’t think this is misdirection at all. I understand appeals to the social contract and I’m not opposed to them. But once you get past the basic things that I listed then you’re taking advantage of people’s goodwill. In other words, no senior should go hungry so that we can fund a poetry slam. Or locally in Minneapolis, we shouldn’t underfund firefighters so that we can have a bicycle commissioner.

  9. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 09/26/2011 - 07:08 am.

    I find Warren’s style very interesting. She doesn’t speak in the language I think of as DFLish. She confronts issues head on that Democrats usually gloss over. She talks about these issues in ways that are not easily tagged as class warfare.

    Republicans will try to claim that she is an Ivy League elitist. But the fact that her style is down home, much more Oklahoma than Boston belies that attack and raises credibility issues for those who make them.

  10. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 09/26/2011 - 07:15 am.

    In the political messaging game, we are taught to use certain words over and over again that poll or focus group well. “Let’s make our communities VIBRANT and STRONG again.” That sort of thing. You can spot them in just about any fundraising letter you get from a politician. I have my doubts about that. Maybe people do like the words, they just don’t link them to DFL policies or DFL actions, no many how many times we parrot them.

    Warren’s language is fresh, easy to understand, Orwellian in the sense of his great essay “Politics in the English Language”. Is it politically effective? We will see.

Leave a Reply