I wish I could dismiss as nonsense the speculation that the Fox News Channel is trying to induce presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to select former US Senator and current Fox personality Scott Brown as his running mate, but as a Massachusetts resident who witnessed Brown’s rise to power, I cannot.
Just because Brown seemingly destroyed his political career a few years back doesn’t mean it can’t be rebuilt, especially with the right-wing media machine behind him. During his successful 2010 campaign to complete the term of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, Brown tapped into the sort of lowbrow right-wing populism that Donald Trump taps into today–and scored an upset victory in a supposedly “blue” state.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump and his associates studied Brown’s notorious campaign against Martha Coakley. Brown won by wooing right-leaning independent voters in the Bay State with a combination of anti-government rhetoric, appeals to racism and sexism and exploitation of his celebrity past. Sound familiar?
Yes, Brown lost to Elizabeth Warren in 2012 after running one of the most vicious race-baiting campaigns in modern history. Yes, Brown then moved to New Hampshire and lost to Senator Jeanne Shaheen in 2014. However, Brown can easily spin his 2012 loss as a defeat engineered by the so-called “Massachusetts Democratic machine,” and can remind folks that he only lost to Shaheen, a very popular incumbent, by about three points–hardly a blowout.
Just because Brown lost to Warren and Shaheen doesn’t mean his political skills have necessarily atrophied. As Senator Marco Rubio might put it, let us dispel with the notion that Fox News doesn’t know what it is doing: they know that with Brown’s trash-celebrity credentials, his incendiary rhetoric and his appeal to the same sort of folks who love Trump, he could indeed be an asset on the GOP ticket.
Brown is no Sarah Palin in debates: he held his own in his face-offs with Warren and Shaheen. He covers all the right-wing bases: Koch-funded climate change denial, hatred of Obamacare, belief in the tax fairy, scorn for facts. In addition, as his Fox News colleagues suggest, he can certainly play the role of a “regular guy” to people who don’t know any better.
I’m worried that Democrats and progressives will casually dismiss the talk of a Trump-Brown ticket as a joke. Democrats and progressives laughed at the prospect of Brown winning Ted Kennedy’s seat six years ago…before they started crying as he actually won that seat and spent nearly three years trashing Kennedy’s legacy. Imagine Trump and Brown spending four years–or more–doing the same to Barack Obama’s legacy.
UPDATE: While I fear the prospect of a Trump-Brown ticket, I doubt very much that we will actually see a Trump-Joe Scarborough ticket. Palin was more qualified than Scarborough. More from Salon.