Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Most Likable Republican EVER

When I learned earlier this year that Senator Scott Brown has his memoirs coming out in February, I knew that this was going to be one of the most "must read books" of 2011. Ever since he emerged on the national public stage in 2010 with his surprise come-from-behind victory over the front-runner Democratic candidate for the vacant Senate seat in Massachusetts (the one held by the great Ted Kennedy since 1962), he has been the one to watch, not only for being the 41st Republican (able to break a filibuster) but also for the strong likelihood that he will be a candidate for president in the near future (the 2016 election cycle).

My first impression of Brown is that he is an incredibly likable person. He didn't indulge in negative, personal attacks on his opponent (Martha Coakley, Attorney General of Massachusetts). He worked hard for his win (actually meeting voters and not campaigning in a partisan way). Then on the night of his victory, his spontaneous remarks caused the first controversy of 2010. He had proclaimed to everyone gathered there and those watching on TV that his daughters were available. But he said immediately afterwards, "No, no, no..." It was obvious to me that he was kidding. He was being a playful dad, acting out of the euphoria of his win. To me, his comment showed me that he was unscripted and had a great sense of humour. Others didn't take it the same way. Liberals and some right-wing media personalities jumped all over his joke. Most notable was Glenn Beck, who predicted that Senator Brown was a likely candidate for having a "dead intern" on his hands in the future. What a nutjob!

An example of his sense of humour was when actor Jon Hamm (of Mad Men) played him in a hilarious skit on Saturday Night Live. In the skit, Hamm (as Brown) accidentally stumbles into a room where Senators Reid, Boxer and Byrd, and Representatives Pelosi and Frank are meeting. He apologizes and plays the goof ball, winking at the Democrats, which causes four of them (not Senator Reid, though) to fantasize about Brown. Apparently, the skit was based on an actual news item that Senator Brown did stumble into various rooms in the U.S. Capitol building, trying to find his way. I read that Senator Brown watched the skit and loved it. Doesn't surprise me, though, because in every interview I've seen of him, he definitely has a sense of humour about things and that's a huge part of why he's so damn likable. I'm telling you, Republicans, you will not find a more likable presidential candidate in your party. He truly does have the potential to be the "uniter, not a divider" that Bush pretended to desire for the country.

Many teabaggers saw in Senator Brown a chance to put the breaks on the Obama agenda and they flowed money into his campaign as well as travel up to Massachusetts to volunteer on his campaign, but it did not take long before he fell out of their favour when he voted with the Democrats on some issues. Last year, I had a few arguments with Glenn Beck teabaggers who claim that Senator Scott Brown had a target on his back and would be out in 2012, when he has to run for a full Senate term. When I heard that, I was livid. Just because he's not an ideologue like they are, they want to dictate to the people of Massachusetts (the most liberal state in the entire United States) how their Senator should vote? This is why I hate ideologues. The agenda is more important to them than the person, and its all or nothing. It shows how stupid these people truly are, because they are willing to cut down the one Republican who has THE BEST SHOT at the presidency in 2016 than any we've ever seen in our lifetime.

People laugh when I say that Senator Scott Brown is "being groomed for the presidency", but I really believe that those who control the economy of this country have a vested stake in who becomes president. The media acts as a handicapper, influencing public opinion about certain candidates. They will promote those they want (minimizing or not reporting on serious flaws in their character or past) while marginalizing others. The obsession with polls every week to track the popularity of this or that politician is suspect. People are easily led / influenced. Congressman Ron Paul won the plurality of votes at a recent Conservative conference, yet in national polls, he tracks within the margin of error (about 3% in polls). How can this be so? Obviously, the establishment is threatened by the prospect of a Ron Paul presidency, so they have to keep him on the margins. I'm no fan of Ron Paul, but at least he is consistent in his views and is probably the most honest of all the prospects for 2012 (I'll write a future post on the prospective GOP presidential class of 2012).

Laugh at me if you want, but Senator Scott Brown's first book, Against All Odds: My Life of Hardship, Fast Breaks, and Second Chances, was published (available for sale) on 21 February. President's Day. A Monday. A holiday. Books don't appear on Monday as the first day of sale. Its always Tuesday in the United States. That's when new books, DVDs, and CDs appear in stores. Always on a Tuesday, never on a Monday. I believe Brown's special President's Day publication date is a subtle marketing plan to make this man presidential (or a subtle hint by the power elite of this country that Brown is their choice after Obama's two terms). Not that I have anything against the idea, because if we must have a Republican president after Obama, Senator Scott Brown is that man. What can I say? The guy is damn likable. Read his book and you'll see why he's so damn likable.

On President's Day, I went to several bookstores trying to find his book and found it at Barnes and Noble. I had to read this book, to see if my initial impression of him will still hold. After I finished reading The Twelfth Insight (and its horrible writing), I started reading Brown's book and I was truly impressed by his writing style (or that of his ghostwriter). After completing it a couple weeks ago, I have to say that it is by far the best memoir by a politician that I've read. Beating Obama's Dreams From My Father. In this memoir, Brown reveals far more than any politician dares. Its like he's making a bid to be the most honest politician ever, by revealing some ugly events from his childhood. I had no idea that he grew up poor, being moved from house to house as his mother married, divorced, married, divorced, married, divorced various men of an often violent disposition. Obviously, his mother has a "type". As a result, Brown had to deal with watching his mother's dysfunctional relationships and sometimes playing the role of protector of his mother when her husband was beating the shit out of her. At age six onward, Brown played the role of protector. When he was growing into a teen, his mother's husband at the time was a true terror, who threatened to break Brown's hands. Because of the terror of growing up in such a household, Brown referred to his step-father as a "terrorist." Brown saw basketball as his escape and if his hands or arms were broken, he might never be able to play again, so he lived under constant threat, unable to sleep heavy at night for fear that the threat would be made good while he was sleeping.

Some of the saddest images from the book was reading about Brown as a young boy, waiting with excitement for his father to show up for weekend visits. Oftentimes, his father was a no-show. Imagine the disappointment when his father failed to show time and again. During the rare times when his father did show up, they basically drove around in a car, ate at a restaurant, and returned home. A couple hours with his dad, tops. As a teenager, he lived with the disappointment of hoping his father would show up to see his basketball games.

If that weren't enough, the most shocking detail in the book is that Brown was a victim of sexual abuse by two different people. One was with an older boy when he was young, walking home through a path in the woods. From that episode, he learned to run (like Forrest Gump!) so he would never be caught again and have his escape route blocked. The other was an older teen camp counselor when he attended a Christian summer camp as a tween or young teenager. I was astonished that he would reveal these episodes from his youth, because its not as though it will ever become public knowledge. He doesn't name the guys who abused him in such a manner and has no idea whatever happened to them.

His life turned around when he received a scholarship to attend Tufts University. Though he dreamed of going to college out of state, he knew he couldn't while his mother was married to a brutal man. He had to stay local to protect his mother and sister whenever fights happened and his sister called for help. His sister did him a huge favour by submitting his picture and a letter to Cosmopolitan magazine when they were searching for "America's Sexiest Bachelor." From the moment he left high school, its like the Fates favoured him by rewarding him with blessings after blessings. He won the contest, posed almost completely nude, and got a series of modeling gigs, which led to his meeting his wife, also a model. He had also joined the National Guard and became a member of the JAG Corps, attended Law School at Boston University and eventually married and started a family with his model-turned-newsanchorwoman wife, Gail. They had two daughters. The oldest, Ayla, made it to 13th place on the 2006 season of American Idol (the best Idol ever...that was the year that Taylor Hicks won. I don't even remember Ayla, but the last song she sung was Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten", which did not become a hit until the fall of 2006). Damn, it seems everything this family touches turns to gold!

After I read the book, all I could say was "WOW. Wow, wow, wow!" The man has incredible character. To experience all the adversity that he did growing up and become this incredible person (a devoted husband and father, a career National Guardsman, a lawyer, and a politician), he is the complete opposite of George W. Bush (who grew up with every advantage and pissed it all away, and following in his father's footsteps and failing at every step, including the presidency). The life of Scott Brown shows exactly how someone can overcome adversity and be a great human being. Because he is honest about his past, he doesn't appear at risk to ever be an ideologue. He even wrote in the book that he's not an ideologue at all. He is the epitome of "The Golden Mean" (moderation and temperance).

If there are any flaws with the book, it could be his tendency to "brag" about his accomplishments on the basketball court or in his triathlons. But, I'll give him leeway because he is so refreshingly honest about all of his life, even if it probably made his parents uncomfortable. Also in his book, near the end, he affirms that he is a true Republican, so I don't agree with his views (particularly on the treatment of POWs in the War on Terror). But, these are minor points. I support candidates for deeper reasons than how they vote or party affiliation. Likability, moderation (non-ideologue on either the right or left), and compelling personal narrative matters to me. Scott Brown is someone I could support as president, though I'm likely to back Governor Martin O'Malley in 2016. But if Brown is our 45th President, I would be quite okay with that. I have no doubt that he would make a popular president (well, except among the teabaggers, who I suspect will support Senator Rand Paul for President in 2016). For a political party that has been searching for the next Ronald Reagan, Scott Brown is far better than Reagan and is the star candidate that they have been looking for to bring them out of the dark shadows of the Bush era.

So, I highly recommend reading this informative, well-written memoir by a likely future President of the United States of America. I wish more politicians would be as honest as Brown in revealing the experiences that have shaped one's life. Such frank honesty only makes Senator Brown that much more likable. I wish him much success in his future.

This video is another example of why I like this guy. Check out his reaction at the 3:54 mark. You can hear in his voice as well see in his face that he is embarrassed. I love his reaction, though. His sense of humour shines through. This guy has charisma. He comes off as such a likable, moderate person (real and honest, too) that I really hope that his political party won't ruin him. If he ever emerges with the Dick Cheney snarl, I'll know that he sold his soul to Satan. Right now, though, all he has to be is himself and I think by the time 2015 rolls around, he will be the front-runner for the GOP nomination. Those who dismiss him now, well...who else has his resume, star quality, and life experiences? Bobby Jindal? Rand Paul? Marc Rubio? Sarah Palin? Jeb Bush? Chris Christie? Not a chance. Invest in Scott Brown NOW! He will be president. Mark my words.

1 comment:

T said...

OK, maybe I'll have to read this. I normally wouldn't just because he's a repub, but your review is convincing, Sansego!