Barack Obama

Now That Coakley's Croaked, Just What Kind of Senator is Scott Brown Likely to be?


Based on what I read at about Martha Coakley (and that she was supposed to inherit Ted Kennedy's Senate seat like Fenway Park season tickets and mentions her dogs in her campaign bio), I knew she was a bum.

But what about Scott Brown, who just won election to the Senate, who managed to steal hundreds of thousands of votes away from the non-Kennedy Joe Kennedy, whose positions I agreed with almost completely? I'm just about always glad when favorited candidates lose (especially if they're incumbents), so attaboy Scotty. But to be honest, I don't really know much about the hirsute former centerfold other than that he's a Republican, which is rarely a good thing.

Peter Suderman notes that when it comes to the flashpoint issue of health care, Brown's exact position is vague. He's agin the Obama plan (whatever that is) but has spoken well of the Massachusetts plan, which has produced the highest premiums in the country. He's spoken well, too, of torture, and supports sending more troops to Afghanistan and staying there until the job (whatever that is) is done. According to On The Issues, a site that rates candidates and pols across a variety of social and economic issues, he is generally pro-gun rights, anti-abortion rights [corrected: "nuanced" on abortion; i.e., generally in favor, against late-term abortions, for strong parental notifications, etc.] prefers lower taxes, is anti-gay marriage [but pro-civil-union], pro-death penalty.

On The Issues scores Brown as a "hard-core conservative" and maps him on the World's Smallest Political Quiz field like so:

For comparison, here's Coakley's results on the same scale:

On The Issues didn't have info for good ol' Joe Kennedy (not to be confused with bad ol' Joe Kennedy), but I suspect he'd be in the sweet spot of this graph, right up above the "Libertarian" legend.

Well, with all proper caveats, disclaimers, throat-clearings, etc., let me ask you, kind Hit & Run readers, does this look like progress to you? Or a distinction without difference? Off the top, a Brown victory likely means the submarining, or at least radical scale-back, of ObamaCare, which is a good thing for patients and taxpayers alike. Is that enough to wash away the sins of the world? Or, to put it less cryptically, how much is it really worth celebrating Scott Brown's victory if you are a small-l libertarian who wants more freedom and less government?

NEXT: How's That Whole Teabaggers-and-Obamacare-Opponents-Are-Racists Thing Working Out?

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  1. Now That Coakley’s Croaked, Just What Kind of Senator is Scott Brown Likely to be?

    Uh . . . a naked one?

    1. “Naked” well, at least I would know then if he really was happy to see me.

  2. Or, to put it less cryptically, how much is it really worth celebrating Scott Brown’s victory if you are a small-l libertarian who wants more freedom and less government?

    Well, if you’re a small-l libertarian who wants freedom and less government, you’re not going to get it from either the Dems or the GOP. As such, the best possible outcome is the one that prevents either party from accomplishing what it wants, and in my book that means denying the Dems a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. That, and only that, is why I view Brown’s election as worth celebrating.

    1. I agree 100%. Total gridlock is the only thing we can hope for. Nothing good comes out of Washington, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that nothing comes out of Washington!

    2. I’d also add that economic freedom is under much more danger than civil rights right now, and the GOP has to capitalize on the less-intervention, smaller government position that is becoming more and more popular. So right now, looking at all the facts, it’s better for libertarians to vote for the Browns than the Joe Kennedys.

    3. Yeah that sounds about right, ClubMed. Better to have in-fighting among the bums, it usually serves to weaken their external influence.

  3. He’s agin the Obama plan (whatever that is) but has spoken well of the Massachusetts plan, which has produced the highest premiums in the country.

    Hey, I also speak highly of the Massachusetts plant – because I don’t live there and also because I hate their guts! I don’t know about Brown’s reasons, though . . .

  4. This vote was not a vote for the Republican agenda. I am finding very few people who believe it is. It is a “message” vote, and the message is: stop politics as usual, stop spending our money like drunken sailors, stop trying to run our lives. No, it’s not a libertarian message by most people, but it at least points in the correct direction. If (when?) the Republicans overstep their bounds, I expect the protest votes will send the same message to them.

    1. The fact that no one even knows what Brown’s actual positions are is proof of this.

      1. The fact that polling shows 33% approve of Obamacare when Congress doesn’t know what’s in it is proof of …? Idiocracy? Retardocracy?

        1. Idiocracy.

  5. This looks like progress to me, partly because I think economic issues trump social issues. Better a system where (e.g.) you have a job and money but have to sneak around for some pot or travel somewhere for an abortion, than one where you have no money but abortions and pot are easy to get. (Yes, I disagree with the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers on pot.)

      1. Not sure what your comment means because the URL isn’t all there….

    1. And Coakley is only a 60 on social issues. It is not like she was all peace love and free pot or anything.

      1. Mostly, she just liked humping the BPD’s leg like an oversexed spaniel and freaking out about child molestation.

  6. In the absence of a government that is minimal and strictly limited, a big government that is divided and ineffective may be the best we can hope for.

  7. Am I celebrating? No. But I am scaling back on buying gold and ammo for a little while.

    1. Well, I am going to keep knapping a few flints and casting a few balls until the Big O leaves the Oval…

    2. If that doesn’t land you on Napolitano’s watch list, I don’t know what will…

      1. Hey, Witchiepoo will be out before the end of the year.

  8. He won’t be around long. He’s up for reelection in 2012, by which time the Democrats will probably have a better candidate to run against him.

    1. Perhaps a historian on here can verify but I believe the last time a sitting party ran someone agianst their own president was Garfield.

      “The President is the last person in the world to know what the people really want and think.”

      – James A Garfield

      1. Hazel Meade’s comment appears to be concerning Brown, not Obama.

        1. touche

      2. What I meant to say was Cleveland.


        1. Grover Cleveland spanked me on two non-consecutive occasions.

        2. Yes, I was going to say, “don’t you mean Grover Cleveland?” He had so Republican positions that a bunch of Republican “Mugwumps” supported for him even as his party hated him.

  9. It could very well be that the Republicans will take majorities in the house and senate as well as retaking the presidency in 2012 at which point they will back the car into the path of an oncoming train.

    But in the short term, the car is now stationary and no longer heading over the cliff.

    You take your victories where you get them an celebrate for only as long as they remain victories. As for today, I celebrate merely sitting in an idling car.

  10. Scott Brown winning is bittersweet for me. On one hand, it sounds likely he will throw a monkey wrench into the Democrats trying to increase government authority on health care, so that’s a huge relief for me. However, I highly doubt he will advocate any real free market principles that will actually resolve health care’s problems. He’s a neo-con through and through, so he will continue to further problems elsewhere around the globe and here at home. So it’s a mixed feeling overall.

    On a side note, at least it’s another neo-con that has a hot daughter in the spotlight, so…uh…there’s that, I guess. More political fapping. A win for my pants!

    1. I am tired of washing your dirty underwear and you’re going to go blind.

  11. The beauty of schadenfreude is that it cuts both ways. I enjoyed the Republicans getting a thumpin’, now I enjoy seeing the Dem’s kitty get run over*.

    Brown is but a convenient speed bump on the autobahn to statism.

    *(no actual felines were hurt in the making of this metaphor)

  12. “He’s a neo-con through and through”

    What do you mean by that? Please be specific and show your work.

    1. Is Brown a Jewish name?

      1. I was gonna post under a Jewish name saying, “Funny. He doesn’t look Jewish.” but you beat me to it.

        1. I don’t really understand how these comments are funny…

          1. OK, so I’m not the only one who doesn’t get it…

            1. Not only do I not get it, but I think I should be offended by whatever is meant here.

            2. In February 2009 Andrew Sullivan wrote he no longer took neoconservatism seriously because its basic tenet was defense of Israel:

              The closer you examine it, the clearer it is that neoconservatism, in large part, is simply about enabling the most irredentist elements in Israel and sustaining a permanent war against anyone or any country who disagrees with the Israeli right. That’s the conclusion I’ve been forced to these last few years. And to insist that America adopt exactly the same constant-war-as-survival that Israelis have been slowly forced into… But America is not Israel. And once that distinction is made, much of the neoconservative ideology collapses.

              Neoconservatives respond to charges of merely rationalizing support for Israel by noting that their “position on the Middle East conflict was exactly congruous with the neoconservative position on conflicts everywhere else in the world, including places where neither Jews nor Israeli interests could be found?not to mention the fact that non-Jewish neoconservatives took the same stands on all of the issues as did their Jewish confr?res.”

              Some writers and intellectuals, particularly conservatives, have argued that criticism of neoconservatism is often a euphemism for criticism of conservative Jews, and that the term has been adopted by the political left to stigmatize support for Israel. In The Chronicle of Higher Education, Robert J. Lieber warned that criticism of the 2003 Iraq War had spawned:

              a conspiracy theory purporting to explain how [American] foreign policy… has been captured by a sinister and hitherto little-known cabal. A small band of neoconservative (read, Jewish) defense intellectuals… has taken advantage of 9/11 to put their ideas over on [Bush]… Thus empowered, this neoconservative conspiracy, “a product of the influential Jewish-American faction of the Trotskyist movement of the ’30s and ’40s” ([Michael] Lind)… has fomented war with Iraq… in the service of Israel’s Likud government (Patrick J. Buchanan and [Eric Alterman).


              1. Yes, because all Jews are pro-Israel. I have never met an obnoxious Jew extolling The Plight of the Palestinian Under the Hands of the Israeli Fascists. Never.

                1. My initial question to Brian Defferding was raised because people throw around the term “neo-con” with absolutely no idea what it actually means what its origins are and how it often is used as a synonym / codeword for Zionist.

                  1. What gobbler said. To paraphrase Richard Brookhiser, a lot of people use “neo-con” to mean “Jewish warmonger.”

                    1. “I was gonna post under a Jewish name saying, “Funny. He doesn’t look Jewish.” but you beat me to it.” I thought you meant the word “attorney” was another way of using a Jewish name.

                    2. Bush and Cheney are Jewish?

                    3. Joshua,I will get back to you on that when Reason publishes their COSMO centerfolds. 😉

  13. Brown led a successful charge that looks like it is turning the tide of the current battle. As far as I’m concerned, he’s served his purpose and can sit back and vote with his party.

    It’s just one pin in the map of the larger war.

  14. how much is it really worth celebrating Scott Brown’s victory if you are a small-l libertarian who wants more freedom and less government?

    Excellent question by The Jacket. This is a reason to celebrate, but not for long. In fact, the euphoria wore off last night when I closed my browser. What we really need is a long string of these small victories. You can’t turn an ocean liner around with a single crank of the wheel.

    1. Exactly. And I thought Brown was pretty socially liberal? If he turns out to be an other Snowe like sellout, there will be plenty of time to hate him for it. In the mean time, we ought to at least wait until the guy is sworn in and see how he votes. He has the potential to be a national star if he votes for small government. If he sells out, his star will fall and the Dems will still hate anyway. He just might do the right thing for the wrong reason.

      1. And I thought Brown was pretty socially liberal?

        He is. Nick is somehow getting “generally… anti-abortion” out of On the Issues saying
        “# Provide info about emergency contraception to rape victims. (Jan 2010)
        # Support legalized abortion, but not partial-birth abortion. (Jan 2010)
        # Supported by right-to-life groups for stem cell stance. (Jan 2010)
        # Authored bill for 24-hour waiting period for abortion. (Jan 2010)”

        So he’s pro-choice but with compromises some of the hot button issues. People will claim that as pro-choice or not depending on what point they’re trying to make.

        1. Unless you are a commenter on Feministing, I would say most people would say Brown is socially liberal. Nick should do better than to smear him like that.

          1. I’m not sure if it’s a smear. Look at where he lands on economic issues even though he supported universal state health care.

            1. Nick is not smearing Brown. It is Coakley he dislikes because of that all important reason that she “mentions her dogs in her campaign bio… knew she was a bum.” Whereas, Brown has a penis and is well qualified for the job.

  15. The good news is, if he is on the extreme side of his party, then he can just get elected President. You know, to punish Obama.

    He did say he was for term-limits.

    In any event, an auspicious outcome — this was a “go fuck yourselves, you insolent expendable fucks” SPECIAL election. “Hey you, fuckface on Capitol Hill, in the White, we are armed with Flip video, youtube, google, and a shitty false economy; we’ll be watching your ass!”

  16. the hirsute former centerfold

    Jeez, The Jacket, it’s not like he’s Robin Williams. And even if he were, if the 80’s were a time when straight men eschewed chest-shaving/waxing/other forms of manscaping, that’s a Decade You Can Believe In.

    1. Do straight men really do that stuff now? Wow.

      1. That would make Magnum P.I.’s attire and grooming habits entirely ambiguous.

      2. John, it’s a metrosexual jungle out there. But women (like my friend who insists her boyfriend shave his balls) definitely share some of the blame.

        Does the rise of the girly man correlate to declining freedom? I’d like to see On The Issues map that.

        1. If my wife insisted I shave my balls, I would get an annulment. I understand that no one wants a Steve Smith (unless you are into that sort of thing). But that is too far.

        2. But women (like my friend who insists her boyfriend shave his balls) definitely share some of the blame.

          Damn, that sounds itchy.

          The question is, does she reciprocate on the grooming? If so, and it was his request originally, that seems fair.

          1. Good point. I never got into the whole have adult women shave and look like an 8 year old down below thing, so I would be being fair in saying no.

            1. Beats getting a few loose pubic hairs stuck in the back of your throat.

            2. Irrespective of how it looks, it makes oral sex a whole lot easier and stimulatively productive. Shave your wife, eat the hell out of her and then ask her if she liked it.

            3. That kind of creeps me out, too. Trim? Sure. Shave? Not my thing.


            4. Are you one of those sick fucks who likes their armpits to look like those of 8 year olds?

              Methinks you haven’t thought this very far through.

        3. Perhaps she is a part of the Tea Party, and prefers a smooth ball?

          A razor blade near my ball sack is about as appealing as the health insurance mandate! Ouch!

          1. This short video will explain the mechanics of the process.

            1. What, you don’t get insurance, you are immediately processed down at the county pokey!?

        4. But what does he do with the hair?

          Is he saving it up to make a life-size Warty-doll?

          1. Those things can have terrible consequences if left in untrained hands.

            1. It’s like a 6ft tall Zuni doll.

          2. Have you seen Frank Luntz lately?

            I just saw the beard contest episode of Cheers again the other day. Priceless.

          3. Or to give a gorilla mask to the Statue of Liberty.

        5. Maybe she has some deep-seated fear of being gorilla masked, and that’s her first line of protection?

        6. WTF is wrong with that guy? Doesn’t he know how to say “no”?


  17. That graph needs to be a board game…

    I leave it to the peanut gallery to fill in the specifics.

    1. Like Twister! With new significance to “left foot blue.”

      1. No. It needs to be a “Jump to Conclusions” mat.

      2. “There’s no brown for the spinner to point to. Please take your hand out of my ass.”

  18. I think we’re about to find out just how much Brown’s vote is worth the 2 parties.

    Let the bidding war begin.

  19. Mostly, it looks like the end of the One’s filibuster-proof majority. Don’t care if it’s carrying a cross or a flag or if it’s dripping in dog shit right now, to be honest.

    Whoa. I’m surprising myself with this sudden, fierce swell of pragmatism. I’ll be back in a few. I need to contemplate my life’s meaning for a moment?

  20. OTI’s ideological assumptions about the meaning of legislation (and rhetoric and image, in the absence of votes) make the their translations of known things to imputed motives fit for the Quiz very strange.

    To claim a spectrum-spanning gulf between Brown and Coakley, you have to be just full of shit. Their distance from libertarianism may be equal, but it’s not opposite. They’re successful Massachusetts politicians, for fuck’s sake. There aren’t two kinds of those. There’s 1.1, at most.

  21. This is a link to Brown’s state senate website. It goes to the page on his accomplishments in Ma. on healthcare.

  22. According to On The Issues, a site that rates candidates and pols across a variety of social and economic issues, he is generally pro-gun rights, anti-abortion rights, prefers lower taxes, is anti-gay marriage, pro-death penalty.

    I’d say that On the Issues exaggerated a little bit. He’s pro-choice but anti-partial birth abortion, and anti-gay marriage but pro-civil unions.

    1. He’s also pro-emergency contraception, so he doesn’t hit all the hot button moderate compromises.

      Actually, On the Issues has all this information on their link.

      1. Thus qua? the Daily Beast about him:

        “Brown’s been hit by the Democrats for supporting an amendment which would have allowed hospital workers to refuse emergency conception [sic.] to rape victims on account of religious beliefs.”

        Uhh. OK. I wonder who the Democrats in favor of emergency conception services were… (Probably all male.)

        1. “Brown’s been hit by the Democrats for supporting an amendment which would have allowed hospital workers to refuse emergency conception [sic.] to rape victims on account of religious beliefs.”

          Heh, interesting typo.

          It would have allowed individual hospital workers to refuse to be the one to give people the drugs, but he also said that he was in favor of making the drugs available.

          You could say that’s not workable, but he’s not hard core on the issue. Remember, some people will call you “pro-life” if you’re against publicly funded abortions out of tax dollars, because this somehow discriminates against the poor.

        2. That’s a pretty tendentious way to put it. What the amendment did was allow hospital workers to refuse to supply morning-after abortion pills to rape victims.

          1. What the amendment did was allow hospital workers to refuse to supply morning-after abortion pills to rape victims.

            He said he was still in favor of the hospitals issuing it, just having to find some other employee to give the drugs. (I.e., not allowing people to be fired for refusing.) It’s a policy which you can certainly criticize on various contract rights and regulation grounds from a libertarian standpoint, but which would normally be right up there with normal liberal workplace rights and due process ideas, at least if it didn’t interfere with abortion.

    2. Isn’t that pretty much what Obama is?

  23. Just the deliciously cruel, serrendipitous irony of Brown being “The One” that could kill Teddy’s dream of state contolled health care by winning “his” seat is political mdma.

    1. I meant to say “politcal anthrax herion.” The new craze in Europe.

  24. Well, Brown’s scores add up to 90, while Coakley’s add up to 80, so I guess he’s a tiny bit better. Also, we’ve been making some decent progress on social issues (Cali marijuana, gay marriage, etc) lately, while our economic system crumbles, so seems wise to turn our focus back the other way. I’m sure Brown will suck hard though, on both fronts, when its time to actually make policy.

  25. Brown was a useful monkeywrench, nothing more.

    Yeah, he probably destroyed Obamacare. But he’s also an aggressively pro-torture, pro-police state goon who supports and endless war on drugs, privacy and brown people in the Middle East.

    But hey – he did what we needed him to do. And the Democrats will run a much better candidate and campaign in 2012 and Brown will lose by a bazillion votes, so he won’t be around long enough to do any real damage.

    Cynical? Yeah, sure. But when our political system is this fucked up, we have to use the tools that are available.

  26. I think this is a big plus, because it puts a halt to the Dems big plan.

    Also on the more unrealistic, but still hopefull side, perhaps since the Dems can’t push anything through, then maybe both sides can work together to tackle the HUGE fiscal problems that we still have.

    For example, something like is suggested here

  27. I think his stances on abortion and gay marriage are a little more nuanced.

  28. Thank you. Another libertarian blog was rejoying about him winning the race, but in the end he’s not a win for libertarians.

    1. If his election kills ObamaCare, it was a win for libertarians.

      Regardless of what else he might do. There is nothing on the political horizon (other than cap ‘n’ trade, which his election also probably killed) as bad for liberty as ObamaCare.

      1. Agreed.

        Big picture, folks.

  29. Brown’s election should torpedo Obama’s health care disaster. That’s good enough for me right now.

  30. The way I look at it is, if there’s room for two parties in Massachusetts, there’s room for three parties in the United States. Or something like that.

  31. I forget.. Which corner is the “giant douche” and which is the “turd sandwich”?


    1. Brown is the giant douche. A douche has practical applications, but the fact that it’s giant renders it useless, which makes it funny. A turd sandwich is just a turd sandwich.

  32. The “On the Issues” view of social issues (at least) seems weak to me, but I don’t have the time to do a point by point break down. By their measure, many self proclaimed libertarians might be considered conservative due to not wanting to fund pet projects for touchy-feely programs only.

    They make Brown out to be nearly ultra-conservative when he will most likely be a moderate conservative with crossover potential because he will want to keep his job.

    So, no, Brown is not a libertarian candidate, but for different reasons than proposed in the OP.

  33. I voted Brown on the single issue of health care reform. Every other issue I agreed with Joe. Normally, I would have voted for him, but this time 2 things stopped me. Health care is big both now and in the future and this time there was difference between the democrat and republican that I cared about.

  34. Parental notifications gets lumped in with “anti-abortion rights”? Why?

  35. I don’t know if it’s worth celebrating, but did anyone see Rachel Maddow’s inability to cope hilariously manifest itself on MSNBC last night? That was heartwarming. I can always thank Brown for that.

  36. OnTheIssue’s scoring of Brown on the World’s Shortest Political Quiz is whacked.

    I have not read a comprehensive analysis of Mr. Brown’s economic views, but there is simply no way that he’s an 80 out of 100 on the libertarian economics scale. Von Mises and Rothbard set the standard for a 100 and Brown isn’t even close.

    And there’s no way he’s only a 10 out of 100 on the social issues scale. Osama bin Laden sets the standard for a zero rating. A 10 would require women to wear burqas, but would allow them to drive, get an education, and speak to an unrelated male. I cannot think of any American outside of a renegade Mormon polygamist compound who would rate a 10, not even Jerry Falwell.

    My own inexpert assessment would put Brown in the Moderate box at about 60/50.

  37. We’re still headed to hell in a handbasket but with filibusters back on the table perhaps we’ll go a little slower.

  38. From Brown’s site:

    I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. States should be free to make their own laws in this area, so long as they reflect the people’s will as expressed through them directly, or as expressed through their elected representatives.

  39. Overall, this was a positive development. The current bill is a health care problem entrenchment act than a reform act, so, hopefully, it will be dealt a death blow. Problem is, we still need health care reform (along John Mackey’s suggested lines); I guess that’s never going to happen, anyway, so no loss.

  40. Irrespective of how actually different Brown is from the average Massachusetts Democrat, the election is a psychological watershed. This is Massachusetts, for heaven’s sake, a state that has not sent a single Republican to either federal house since Peter Blute in 1994. He may not be a cowboy free-market capitalist, but neither was Vaclav Havel, and I detect in both their victories the same sort of psychological emancipation of an electorate used to oppression, who are now taking back power and saying they’ve had enough.

  41. He’s spoken well, too, of torture, and supports sending more troops to Afghanistan and staying there until the job

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