Sen. Brown v. Prof. Warren—The First Debate

The Connecticut US Senate race between Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Chris Murphy is among the most watched in the country. Yet it may not even be the most watched in New England. That distinction belongs to Massachusetts where Republican Sen. Scott Brown is deadlocked with challenger Harvard professor and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat. They held their first debate last night and The Shad watched from beginning to end. Here’s a lighter look:

• Right out of the gate, in the first question, Brown said Warren “failed” the honesty and character test when she claimed throughout her career to be of Native-American heritage. “Look at her, she’s not,” Brown said. That’s all well and good but it didn’t get past me that Brown was using a bingo dabber to take notes. And it was totally unprofessional when the senator, thinking he won the debate, exclaimed at the end, “Winner, winner, chicken dinner!” Just my opinion.

• There was a bit of repetition in the answers each candidate gave. If anyone was playing a drinking game in which you had to do a shot every time Brown said, “bipartisan,” you were all knee-walking after the first ten minutes.

• Who is advising Prof. Warren on her wardrobe? I haven’t seen that type of frumpiness since Juliet Mills in “Nanny and the Professor”—Warren being the Nanny.

Here is a serious take:

• Brown was almost Rick Lazio-like in his pursuit of Warren on the heritage issue. Anyone who cares about the controversy has already decided whether it makes a difference. It doesn’t to me.

• Warren succeeded in calling out Brown on the tax issue. Brown said on a radio show earlier in the week that faced with a vote to extend the Bush tax cuts to just those making less than $250,000 or let them expire for everyone, he’d choose the latter, holding the middle class hostage for continued tax cuts for the wealthy. That’s an unpopular position in Massachusetts (and elsewhere).

• Brown twice invoked Bay State icon Ted Kennedy in an effort to show he’s bipartisan. Nice move until Kennedy’s son Patrick asked Brown to stop using his father’s name saying it’s “misleading.”

• No one else seemed to have noticed this but I think moderator Jon Keller of WBZ-TV Channel 4, sort of the Tom Monahan of Boston, continually called Brown, “Mr. Brown.” The proper title is “Senator,” not “Mr.” even if he is in a debate. Otherwise, Keller was great as usual. He gets that fact that referee is not supposed to be noticed during the game. The NFL, the NBA and especially Major League Baseball could learn something from Keller.

• In the end, neither candidate landed a knock-out blow or made any major gaffes. The candidates will continue their rather nasty campaign.

Your thoughts?

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