Scotto's Final (?) Senate Speech

I just watched Scott Brown give his farewell floor speech (thanks C-SPAN2!), which for the most part sounded like what you may have heard at the end of the televised campaign debates, or in his election-night concession speech. He mostly stressed the need for independence and bipartisanship, and praised himself on that score: "I'm proud that I did keep that promise to be independent." He expressed his gratitude for being given the opportunity to serve in the Senate; recounted some of his legislative achievements; thanked his staff and the people of Massachusetts; said that "you've got to take victory and defeat in a gracious manner"; and added a reproof against Democrats' plans for filibuster reform. He did not mention Elizabeth Warren or wish her luck, and unless I missed it I heard no shout-out to his senior colleague John Kerry.

He certainly sounded like a guy who intends to run again, quite possibly for a return to the Senate -- he even noted, as he did election night, that victory and defeat are "temporary."

Whatever else you might say about Brown -- and I've said and written quite a bit, much of it critical -- he has served the Commonwealth and the country honorably. I've always generally liked him, and while I've never been much impressed by him as a legislator he certainly does deserve credit for contributions on a number of things in his nearly three years in Washington, including the crowdsourcing bill, attention to constituent services, and advocacy on behalf of the state's millitary, fishing, and other industries.

He would certainly be a formidable candidate if he runs again, whether for Senate in a special election or in the 2014 governor's race.

But I still feel that bipartisanship and independence just aren't really a platform. They sound nice, but it's ultimately an empty phrase, like being against crushing national debt or being in favor of economic growth.

What Brown has never articulated is an idea of what he wants to use bipartisanship and independence for. In today's brief speech he said he is "deeply concerned about the lack of bipartisan efforts to solve our country's most pressing problems." OK, agreed; but a Senator isn't like a court-appointed mediator, sent to sit down and neutrally accommodate communication between the two sides. What are the "independent and bipartisan" solutions to the big problems? 

I certainly didn't expect Brown to lay any of that out in today's speech. I do think he'll need to do it in his next campaign, if there is one. But for now I'll just say: Thanks for your service, Scotto. 

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