I noted recently that I was encouraged that Sen. Scott Brown’s race in Massachusetts seemed to represent a falling away of the endless and fruitless search for a Conservative Messiah that we saw throughout the 2008 campaign. Perhaps I need to eat those words. (Warning: Some naughty language. Gawker’s not my favorite site, but I found this link on Facebook and it is telling.)
I like Andrew Cline’s commentary on this:
With the jobs bill — his first major vote — Brown established his Washington identity. He proclaimed himself an independent-minded Republican who will oppose party leaders and work with Democrats. In Massachusetts, that is the only way he survives politically.
He also kept two important campaign promises: 1) that he will be independent of his party, and 2) that he would vote for legislation to create jobs. Now, policy wonks know that this jobs bill is ill-suited to job creation and better alternatives exist. But listen to Brown’s explanation: “I supported this measure because it does contain some tax relief that will help Massachusetts businesses put people back to work.”
Brown has signaled to his constituents that he voted for tax cuts, just as he promised in the campaign. He is from Massachusetts. That’s huge.
He also said that if the bill comes back from the House “full of pork, waste, fraud and abuse, I reserve the right to vote against it.” That’s also important. The House version of the bill is 10 times larger — $154 billion vs. $15 billion — than the Senate bill. With his post-vote statement, Brown positioned himself to vote against the final bill on the grounds that it is too large and wasteful. Outstanding.
With one vote, the holder of Ted Kennedy’s old seat just established himself as a supporter of tax cuts and an opponent of wasteful, bloated federal spending. And he did that while opposing Republican leadership and defining himself as a political independent. That was not traitorous; that was brilliant.
Scott Brown is a Republican. From Massachusetts. If conservatives want him to be able to stay in Washington so he can vote against Obamacare and other boondoggles, then they shouldn’t criticize him for voting like a Republican from Massachusetts. The movement for limited government is strengthened by Brown holding that seat. To keep it, he has to vote for some things conservatives find distasteful. As long as he’s voting for small distasteful things so he can stick around to vote against the big ones, that’s a win for the movement.