A forgiving electorate in the Bay State

A FORGIVING ELECTORATE IN THE BAY STATE…. Evaluating lawmakers tends to be a subjective endeavor, but when I take a look at Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), I see a senator who’s gotten off to a very rough start after about a half-year in office. The senator has, to be sure, benefited from undue hype, but he’s struggled badly with his actual responsibilities.

After all, we’ve learned this year that Brown doesn’t understand the stimulus, doesn’t understand financial regulatory reform, doesn’t understand health care reform, doesn’t understand economic policy, and doesn’t understand energy policy.

He’s voted with the far-right to strip the EPA of its authority on climate change; he’s voted with the far-right on health care; he’s voted with the far-right on extending unemployment benefits; and he’s voted with the far-right on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” At one point, Brown reflected on a deranged Texas man who flew a plane into a building, and told a national television audience that the terrorist’s motivations reminded him of his own Senate campaign.

By all appearances, Brown just isn’t ready for prime-time. But what I can’t help but find striking is that his constituents just don’t seem to mind.

US Senator Scott Brown, who only months ago was a little-known figure even within the tiny band of Republicans in the state Senate, not only catapulted to national stature with his upset US Senate victory, but is today the most popular officeholder in Massachusetts, according to a Boston Globe poll.

After less than five months in Washington, Brown outpolls such Democratic stalwarts as President Obama and US Senator John F. Kerry in popularity, the poll indicates. He gets high marks not only from Republicans, but even a plurality of Democrats views him favorably.

For context, Kerry’s favorable rating in Massachusetts is 52%, Obama’s is 54%, and Brown’s is 55%. That’s not an approval rating, but is a gauge of personal popularity.

I guess this is a reminder that voting records and on-the-job performance are nice, but in politics, charm and appearance often matter more.