The attacks on Elizabeth Warren's disputed American-Indian heritage from conservatives and Republicans have finally blown up in Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown's face. Brown staffers have been caught on video mocking Democrat Warren with overtly racist gestures.
Brown has been pushing the "Warren isn't a real Indian" line for months. It is red meat to Brown's supporters and to Warren's detractors (especially at the national level), but it doesn't seem to have turned many voters away from Warren, who is seeking to take Brown's seat in a national capital whose NFL franchise is called the Redskins. Polls show voters are aware of the scandal over Warren's claims of having Indian ancestors, but it has had little impact on their vote.
Brown works hard to paint Warren as untrustworthy and of questionable character. His campaign has attacked Warren hard on her work involving asbestos claims and for coal mining companies and on the claim of practicing law without a license. But the heritage allegations are a different story. Brown (who narrowly won his Senate seat in an interim election after the death of Ted Kennedy) has had to walk a fine line in trying to attack Warren and her family without alienating Baystaters. His supporters have called her Lieawatha and Fauxcauhontas, not exactly racially sensitive terms.
This video shows Brown staffers including Greg Casey and Jack Richard, but the footage of Brown supporters engaging in this behavior would have been damaging even without actual staffers. Casey and Richard's appearance just adds fuel to the fire.
Brown released his first real negative ad of the campaign after the first debates, attacking Warren's self-reported herritage. Warren was up shortly with a response ad that is, well, a vast improvement over her earlier ads. It makes her appear sympathetic and likable, something she's struggled with throughout the campaign.
Boston has a sad racial history and this latest episode just adds to the global perception that my hometown is populated with a bunch of whiskey-drinking knuckledraggers who hate the New York Yankees.