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Subheaded, "A petty performance by senator."

Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe columnist, has his initial impressions of the Brown-Warren debate tonight. One thing is clear: Brown was rather...erratic. [Added link, caution: paywall.]

It was a good night for Elizabeth Warren — and an ominous one for Scott Brown.

Warren accomplished two important things. First, she cut through the fog on Brown’s tax stance. The senator talks as though he’s the tribune of the middle class. Warren, however, drove home the point that Brown would hold tax cuts for the middle class hostage to protect those for families making more than $250,000.

More after the sguigglybit.

Certainly, I agree with his general take on the debate:

In pressing her case, Warren kept her tone reasonable and her focus political, not personal.

Not so Brown. His calling card is his supposed nice-guy-ism. But he often seemed petty and personal. It was an off-putting mistake to start the debate by attacking on the issue of Warren’s (undocumented) Native American ancestry. People open to deciding their vote on that matter probably already have.

In fact, the questions asked in polls in the spring, when every other news story was about Brown attacking Warren on this front, showed no movement based on it.

Further, suggesting that Warren is a hypocrite because she supports higher federal taxes on upper earners but doesn’t voluntarily pay more in state income taxes herself is an eye-rollingly silly attack.

Overall, Brown was underwhelming on a night when he needed to be senatorial.

Charley at says much the same thing. We Dems get carried away at the partisan impressions and horse race details, but if you step back and think about the basics - Brown looked petulant and lost his nice-guy sheen, and Warren had her intro to the part of the population who had no prior real impression of her was a win for us. She was genuine and classy at every turn, and given the limited format and time frame (an hour debate seemed so short) got a lot of good rebuttals and details about herself, and about Brown. And Brown really didn't have any good answers for his record.

David Bernstein at The Phoenix had an interesting take as well, speculating that Brown somehow was "off," though tiredness seems to be a poor excuse to me. Personally, I think Reid got to him today. ;)


Joan Vennochi of the Globe also has her take as well:

The woman who made Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner squirm made Senator Scott Brown sweat.

Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat who is challenging the incumbent Republican, was poised and collected — just as you might expect from a Harvard professor with years of experience testifying in Washington before Geithner and assorted members of Congress.

She didn’t flinch when Brown kicked off their first debate by taking off the nice guy gloves and challenging her character over her decision to “check the box” as a Native American. But she also didn’t explain it beyond what she has already said about family lore. And she ignored Brown’s request that she release her personnel records to clear up the heritage issue.

Does it matter? That first attack was all Brown had for much of a debate that rocked with smirks and verbal jabs.

Awesome! And...we see that Mitt Romney has misplaced his smirk, we found it here in Boston.

PS - on several occasions Brown evoked the name of Ted Kennedy. After every instance, I wanted to go wash my hands and face, I was so disgusted. How dare he?? How dare he, after how he has voted, pretend Teddy would have approved?? But that shows you how precarious Brown's position really is.

The best bit from the debate? When Brown answered in the affirmative about believing in global climate change, Warren pointed out that the Senate is up for grabs...and climate and science-denier Inhofe would be overseeing the EPA in a Republican-controlled Senate. Point, set, MATCH! That is exactly the sort of argument that will make the ticket-splitters think twice.

Update II:

OK a few more highlights. First, you can always tell when the Dem wins - the Republican "equal access" commentator of WBUR says "draw" while the Democratic commentator happily says "Warren Bests Repetitive Brown In 1st Debate"! is a poll for you to freep! Back to the good old times! Warren is in the lead by a lot...these things are so dumb, and easily rigged, but hey.


Wow, reclist, keen! I know it's not impressive at 1 in the morning EST but I don't post here often so I'm glad people found this diary useful.

By the way, I'll be live blogging next [ugh, to clarify, OCT 1st!! NOT next] Monday's MA Senate debate at my blog Left in Lowell, as UMass Lowell is hosting it. David Gregory is moderating, which should be great, and way better than freaking Jon Keller (and just be thankful it isn't Chancellor and former US Rep Marty Meehan; that guy looooves the sound of his own voice). They are letting the bloggers in the media room with the wifi so I guess no pajamas for me! ;)

I just also want to point out to people who might be worried about the latest poll that came out of the Herald/UMass Lowell partnership - take it with a grain of salt, as it seriously underpolled Democrats. For more info, check out these comments on LiL.


Just a little commentary that I wanted to share before hitting the hay...somewhere on the internets (between twitter, facebook, and blogs, oh myyyy...) I saw a comment from local pundit and Northeastern journalism prof Dan Kennedy mentioning that Elizabeth Warren's CORRECT title is "Dr. Warren." I think we all ought to start using that. The number of sneering "Professor Warren"s Brown spewed out tonight, pretending to be respectful but obviously intended as a snide way of saying "you elitist liberal"...PROFESSOR Warren is NOT respectful, unless you are her student...DR. Warren is.


A really cool debate about "Dr." vs. "Professor" in the comments. There's a reason blogs are awesome. You never fail to learn more even when you're the diarist!

Also, from the comments, even some Herald professional opinionists see Warren as the clear winner!

When Elizabeth Warren forced Scott Brown to come out with this gem, “I want to protect the job creators who are getting up in the middle of the night and creating jobs ...” I began to think Mickey Ward’s trainer, Art Ramalho, got it right.

I mean, who’s getting up in the middle of the night and creating jobs? The guy who makes the doughnuts? Those “kings and queens” Scott’s been on the phone with? The State Department honchos who allegedly showed Scott the bin Laden death photos?

Wow, so snarky!!! Heh. I warn you though, enter the comments of that column very cautiously...if you think is bad...Boston Herald comments are THE most vile.

My husband was watching channel 7 (NBC affiliate) this morning, Andy Hiller, said the "clear winner" was Brown. He appears to be a lone voice in the wilderness...ah, here is the linky...he starts out,

For a debate where neither candidate lost their cool...
Were you watching the same debate I was, Hiller? Yeesh.


Warren wasn't bad, but Brown was better.
Sigh. Well, you can't reach them all!! :) Let the spin begin!


OK, for those people who have a question on the whole asbestos/Travelers attack. (God, how ballsy of Brown to attack her of being pro-big-business and anti-union!)

The Globe ran a story last May and they found Brown's attack to be misleading, at best. It's a pretty long story, and a VERY complex issue, but here are some salient points (bold mine):

Travelers was fighting to gain permanent immunity from asbestos-related lawsuits by establishing a $500 million trust. The trust would have been divided among current and future victims of asbestos poisoning who had claims against the nation’s largest asbestos manufacturer, Johns-Manville, which had been insured by Travelers before it went bankrupt.

Travelers won most of what it wanted from the Supreme Court, and in doing so Warren helped preserve an element of bankruptcy law that ensured that victims of large-scale corporate malfeasance would have a better chance of getting compensated, even when the responsible companies go bankrupt.

But after Warren left the case, it continued to twist and turn through the legal system, leaving a result that has been disastrous for asbestos victims.

This story is dated May 1st, 2012. You can see that Brown has been using this line of attack for some time. Like his other ones. The other big two are: the Native American thing, and also, the whole thing about how in Massachusetts, we can check off on our state taxes that we want to be taxed at a voluntary higher rate, and how Warren is a hypocrite for not doing this while calling for more taxes from the wealthy. ~rolls eyes~

Again, from the story:

While Warren’s Republican opponent in the US Senate race, Scott Brown, has highlighted this business arrangement as an example of hypocrisy for a candidate who has portrayed herself as the champion of consumers, a Globe examination of the convoluted legal record paints a murkier picture.

It is clear that Warren received a substantial amount of money to help the company win immunity from all future lawsuits, with the expectation that the company would have to pay the settlement. But Warren’s work on the case may also have helped Travelers indirectly lay the groundwork for its current position, a position Warren and several other lawyers involved on both sides of the case say they did not foresee: where Travelers has immunity from most suits without having to pay the settlement.

Then there's this:
Her campaign detailed six Supreme Court cases in which she has filed so-called friend of the court briefs. They include two briefs on behalf of the AARP: one of which supports protecting individual retirement accounts in the event of a bankruptcy and another that fights to allow judges to lower consumers’ credit card interest rates in the event of personal bankruptcies.

The campaign also provided a 2001-2003 case in which she testified in two trials as an expert working on behalf of asbestos victims, winning access to a $300 million trust, against insurance companies.

Some Big Corporate Crusader Warren is!!


More, further into the story, for clarification:

Warren says she was fighting for an arcane but important principle in taking on the case: the constitutionality of allowing bankrupt companies facing a flood of lawsuits to form what are known as trusts. The trusts are large bank accounts that set aside money for current and future victims.

Warren says that the trusts provide a fair system to distribute the money - rather than first come, first served. But companies only will agree to them if they receive protection from future lawsuits.

“The issue I was focused on like a laser was the constitutionality of preserving the trust, because the trust is a critical tool for making sure that people who’ve been hurt have a fair shot at compensation,’’ she said. “Without it, millions of people who’ve already been injured will get nothing, and millions more in the future will get nothing.’’


Last update, I swear. But this poll on NECN has Brown ahead on the "who won" question. It's got a very few votes however, and would be easy to turn around! Just consider it a little extra fun in your Friday.

[really] LAST UPDATE:

I leave you with gratuitous woozle pictures. First, my two darling little loves, a half Boston Terrier mix and a purebred Miniature Pinscher (both rescues) - the min pin is cuddled on my lap right now:


Next, you really should go cry at this Oatmeal comic.

Last, a photo the Elizabeth Warren facebook page shared of Elizabeth doing debate prep with her doggie at her side!!


Originally posted to lynne1 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 09:02 PM PDT.

Also republished by Massachusetts Kosmopolitans.

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