My local NPR station, WBUR, had a (somewhat inappropriately sanguine) profile of Scott Brown on this morning. The feature included references to his troubled childhood: his single mother, the time spent on welfare, his rocky relationships with authoritative men, er, stepdads, as well as sultry descriptions of his famed athleticism. Brown, who is fifty years old, has been a member of the Massachusetts National Guard for nearly 30 years. He loves military-type service - really loves it - and not just the tough, fighting side of service, but the soft, brother-to-brother side, too. From the WBUR story:
Like all storybook heroes, Brown is definitely a dude, but he also has a soft side, according to his friend Vallee. Brown is an attorney inside the National Guard. Because he's a Republican, you might expect him to be a law-and-order guy and represent the prosecution. But instead, Brown represents guard members who face getting kicked out.
Represents guard members who face getting kicked out, you say? Don't get too excited. The irony starts now, for despite his love for service, Brown does not seem to support letting his LGBT counterparts serve openly - with dignity and respect.
Extensive Google searching didn't dredge up any Scott Brown quotables when it comes to Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but it did unearth a link to the Massachusetts Family Organization's Candidate Scorecard for this oh, so "special" election.
According to the MAFO, Brown supports "the current 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' armed forces policy that prevents homosexuals from serving openly in the military."
Status quo bigotry, the hallmark of a true "Independent-minded" Republican (who's either a closet bigot or just plain scared to step out of his party's big, hateful shadow in support of justice and equality).
So Scott Brown is toeing the DADT party line - no witch hunts, no justice - so what? There's still, like, 59 Democrats (or at least Caucus-ers) in the Senate, right? I mean, I know 60 is the new majority, but it's not like Brown can successfully lead a charge against DADT repeal and successfully put the issue to rest, can he, making inroads against all that great public opinion we've been building for years?
Unfortunately, I'm not so sure. It appears that Brown's love for all things camo is motivating him to seek lots of military-related appointments in the Senate. He's committee shopping! Carl Levin (D-MI), Chair of the Armed Services Committee, seems open to DADT repeal, and since Levin's counterpart in the House, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), just recently came out against repeal, it looks like the Senate is where the leadership will come from, if any, making Brownie's assigned seats more important than one might think.
House Democrats are already looking at maneuvers to repeal DADT that don't rely on the Skelton's Armed Services Committee, but party wrangling aside, Scott Brown could heavily influence the DADT debate, if he so chooses. Here's why:
- He's incredibly popular right now (except, you know, among lots of progressives, die-hard Dems, etc.)
- He's seen as a voice for commonsense moderation and "the people," whoever they may be.
- His good-natured service in the Guard (which is tied to his athleticism, which is tied to his looks, which are tied to that photo spread...) gives him credibility on the issue, especially when it comes to "unit cohesion".
- He might get these military-related committee appointments, not only giving him a platform but also enhancing the power of his vote.
- He apparently has the ability to reverse polling and public opinion with four simple words, "I drive a truck." (Well, he had some help from the other side on this one, but I'll refrain from going down that road...)
Yet there's also no reason - none that I've found, at least - to believe that Scott Brown will make DADT one of his "issues". I'd rather leave that guessing game up to folks who have lived longer in Massachusetts than I have, and, you know, people who are better Google searchers than I.
Let's hope he doesn't, though. Right now, DADT repeal's friends are starting to look a lot more like enemies - frenemies, for sure - than fierce advocates. The last thing our beleaguered DADT repeal effort needs is a poster boy on the opposing side - be it pinup or two-page spread.
Oh, and did I mention that President Obama is rumored to speak about DADT in his State of the Union address? Let's hope Scott Brown isn't giving the rebuttal.