Glen Johnson on the Elizabeth Warren Debate Answers vs the Brown Remarks

Over on, politics editor Glen Johnson gets to the heart of the matter of what he calls the recent kerfuffle surrounding the Elizabeth Warren quip during the UMass Lowell debate earlier this week – “I kept my clothes on ” – that went viral and the Scott Brown answering radio laugh-line – “Thank God”.  Point by point Johnson shows the relevant Warren comments that followed the question at the debate and the  Brown biographical dance done as his follow-up. Deftly handled by Johnson, the Warren picture is not quite that of an upper class elitist as painted by Brown – while the private-schooled Brown isn’t quite that  personally portrayed “awe shucks” poor guy.

From today’s “Scott Brown, Elizabeth Warren Cosmo quips overshadow more-telling comments after” article:

The kerfuffle surrounding Senator Scott Brown and Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren after their comments about his decision to once pose nude for Cosmopolitan magazine largely misses the broader point of their early interaction in the 2012 US Senate campaign.

That point is this: Brown has shown a propensity to play the victim whenever he is challenged, while his allies have taken virtually every opportunity to demean Warren and cast her as an elitist since even before she entered the race.

Warren, meanwhile, has a life story that is more blue-collar than Brown or the GOP have been willing to admit, and the first brushstrokes of it would surely be compelling if enunciated by almost anyone other than her.

Read the rest of the article here at

Working for AP  during the GOP primary race in 2008, Glen Johnson was the bane of Mitt Romney and his minions.  The 2012 US Senate primaries and final contest should see the same brand of on-the-ground in Massachusetts tenacity and coverage. Stay tuned!

7 Responses to Glen Johnson on the Elizabeth Warren Debate Answers vs the Brown Remarks

  1. DickH says:

    In the courtroom, evidence that is otherwise inadmissible can be admitted if the other side “opens the door” to it. In a way, Warren did just that; she opened the door to her appearance with her remark in the debate that she “didn’t take my clothes off” to pay for college. Even though it was the panelists who first raised the issue, Warren made a joke about it.

    With Warren having joked about it, Brown had the green light to respond in a humorous way. BUT, even though he may have meant his comment (saying “Thank God” to the DJ’s question about Warren having to take off her clothes) as a joke, it was incredibly stupid for Brown to say it. First, it immediately put him on the defensive (If you’re explaining, you’re losing). Second, in politics, a candidate can only get into trouble when commenting on the physical appearance of another, joke or no joke. Third, I believe that many women saw the “joke” as demeaning (with some justification, I think).

    Lawyers I know in Norfolk County who knew Brown before he was elected to the US Senate say he was always a very nice guy who supplemented his state senator salary by doing real estate closings. I suspect that he is still a nice guy, and that may be what gets him into trouble. His campaign’s singular strategy, it seems, is to label Warren “an elitist from Harvard” who can’t relate to “regular folk” the way Scott can. Brown is certainly capable of trying to affix that label – that’s exactly what he was attempting during the radio interview that got him into so much trouble. I’m just saying that he’s not sleazy enough to do it with the level of skill required to pull it off. Consequently, his attacks will come across as clumsy and forced and his (perceived) authenticity will suffer as a result.

  2. Steve says:

    Fair comments, Dick. Not a good idea to take a pot shot at a woman politician for not being Raquel Welsh. (The fact is, she looks pretty good for her age, NOT THAT IT MATTERS!)
    But I don’t understand the initial comment. You’re a liberal. Doesn’t that mean that you’re above judging someone for taking his clothes off for a perfectly legal and legitimate modeling job? That’s the sort of high horse holier-than-thou comment I’d expect from the Church Lady.

  3. DickH says:

    If you mean Warren’s initial comment, I think she should have refrained from making it because of the rule I stated in my previous comment – don’t comment about anyone’s appearance. That said, I think she made the comment primarily as a self-deprecating joke, but perhaps also with the underlying message that Brown is not a serious guy. Your implication that there was some kind of prudishness to it would be exactly contrary to the image I think she hopes to convey (and from what I understand, that’s just not her personality) so I don’t think that had anything to do with it.

    As an aside, you’re really dating yourself by citing Raquel Welch. How many people under the age of 40 have ever heard of her?

  4. Renee Aste says:

    Thought both Warren and Brown were appropriate, the person we really should be upset is the individual who asked the question in an inappropriate way. The question lead into of itself as set up for both Warren and Brown for their remarks.

    Was the question really necessary? Why not just asked how she paid for college or even ask what advice she had for students on how to effectively pay for school?

    We could get into a larger discussion, because education costs are high. When I first attended UMass Dartmouth, there was always an ad in the student paper for the local strip club that female students could make real good money. A student on my floor actually did work there, she would come home 3am in the morning and yes showed us the cash she earned for being topless. It was a lot! Still stripping numbs the soul out of you.

    Recent article on an unemployed lawyer in California ended up stripping to pay her loans.

  5. DickH says:

    Yesterday (Friday), Scott Brown attended a Jobs Fair at Roxbury Community College to illustrate his commitment to Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, as they put it. But if you read today’s Globe story about the event, all it talks about is Brown’s “Thank God” comment about Elizabeth Warren. Deep in the story, Brown himself plaintively tried to re-direct the media’s attention to the job fair:

    “Brown also urged a group of reporters yesterday to turn their attention away from his gaffe and toward his job fair. “With all due respect, you should be here reporting about what’s going on here, and that is that people are still hurting,“ Brown said. “This is the real story.’”

    Aside from the whole “innocent joke vs disrespecting women” debate, this is a pretty good example of how a campaign’s “message of the moment” can get shoved off stage by a completely unexpected controversy.

  6. Steve says:

    What we should all “Thank God” for is that we don’t have reporters following us
    around broadcasting every dumb off the cuff attempt at humor we make.

    Getting back to Raquel Welsh…have you seen her lately? She’s 79 gong on 30.
    It’s a Dorian Gray situation…a little scary, and yet….yet…well, I had better take a lesson from Scott and leave it right there.