Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Has Scott Brown Become The New John McCain?
As discussed in the "Morning Memo," Scott Brown will vote for the new START Treaty in the senate. This is yet another independent vote from the Massachusetts senator who was the Tea Party darling to replace the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Most pundits were skeptical of this truck driving, average Joe candidate. Many believed he would vote along party lines with the Republican caucus, which turned out not to be true. Instead, Brown has casted votes for the new financial regulation bill, a jobs bill that passed in the summer, voted for the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and will now vote to ratify the START Treaty. I would call this a far cry from voting straight down partisan lines.
Brown describes himself as an independent. He opposes being Mitch McConnell's lapdog for votes, even butting heads with the GOP senate leader on many crucial votes. It would be fair to say that Brown might become the newest maverick in the senate. With this newest title comes the changing of the guard as John McCain morphs from the sagacious, independent minded grandfather of the senate into the grouchy old man man who appears to be setting his ways. McCain was once a centrist in the Republican Party, now he has turned further and further right in his ripe old age.
That brings up a more crucial question: what happened to John McCain? His voting record after the election gives people a clear picture of what he would have been like as a president. Refusing to repeal DADT, even after the study he requested noted how 70% of combat soldiers had no problem with repeal. In other instances, McCain said he would be ready for repeal when the top military brass were ready. Well, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and head of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen both said they were ready for repeal, granted a few others were unsure about the consequences of repeal. Even his own family opposed him on this topic. His wife Cynthia and daughter Meghan both clearly stated their opposition to the policy, probably making for awkward dinner conversations. Even on START, McCain has come out against ratification. As time lengthens from his defeat and a bitter primary campaign to keep his senate seat stays fresh in his mind, McCain now finds himself opposing positions he would have support even 5 years ago.
While the psychological roots for McCain's downfall might never be fully understood, clearly he is reaching the point of no return. The Republican Party needs members who are grounded in centrist ideology. Without that inner-party difference, the GOP will move farther right. Democrats need a person in the center for a balanced debate. For every Bernie Sanders, even though he is an independent he still caucuses with the Democrats and is a true progressive, there must be Ben Nelson to counteract the progressive attitudes singing in the ears of the donkey party. Many thought Lindsay Graham would replace the old stallion, John McCain, after he made the inevitable wrong right turn, but I will make the case that Brown will become the next centrist Republican.
It is easier for me to imagine Brown taking this post. He might have won the special election to fill the lion of Kennedy family's seat on populist anger, but he still must appeal to the liberal base in Massachusetts he elected Teddy for a generation of vote casting. That means he will probably govern somewhere in the middle. One last warning, Brown is not the saint of the centrists. He voted against the healthcare bill, which is basically Mitt Romney's healthcare plan on a federal level, but since then he has reformed. I can only hope more the Republican Party turn this direction. Governing towards the center always makes the electorate happy.
Photo Credits: Google Images
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