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brian mcgrory

Scott Brown stuck in neutral

May I ask one simple question: What in this wide and wonderful world is Scott Brown thinking?

Our junior senator is, as everyone in Massachusetts well knows, the Luckiest Man in America. He has an accomplished wife, a pair of smart and successful daughters, and model good looks. He was blessed in that lightning strike of a Senate campaign with an opponent that lacked any semblance of intuition about those people known as voters. In the end, a barn jacket and a pickup truck were all he needed to vote on the START treaty.

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Brown rolled sevens through the spring as word broke that Elizabeth Warren had claimed Native American heritage that couldn’t be substantiated. As Warren tripped over the issue for the next month, it looked as if Brown could do no wrong — largely by doing nothing of any great consequence at all.

But how quickly things can change, and Brown, somewhat surprisingly, seems to be shrinking before an electorate’s eyes.

Start with his two new television ads. They are, and I’m sorry to report this, ridiculous. I have no doubt that Gail Huff is a nice person, wonderful mother, and dedicated wife, but should anyone care that, and this is her quote, “Scott did all the morning routine. Get the girls up, get them fed, get them dressed, get them off to school.”

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Then she adds, “And he was the one who was always there during the day.”

Of course he was the one who was always there during the day. He was a Republican member of the Massachusetts state legislature. There was little else he had to do. And after that, we sent him to Washington.

The ad is titled “Dad,” and the only time you’ll wish you were watching it is when a companion spot called “Husband” appears on your TV. Because in “Husband,” we get five, maybe six full seconds of Scott kissing Gail, first in a photograph, and later in video, with a whole lot of Brown making breakfast and doing housework in between.

I get it. He’s romantic, he’s responsible, he’s down to earth. Plus, he wants the women’s vote. If it’s not clear from the ads, there he was on Fox & Friends on Thursday morning joking about the “honey-do list” he expects to have this weekend. A guy just like us.

And when he’s not focused on his domestic life these days, he’s talking about Warren’s. Her claims to Native American ancestry are fair game in this race; I’ve raised them here myself. But for Brown, it’s the only game he seems to want to play.

He played it on Thursday’s Fox appearance, then trumpeted it on the homepage of his campaign website. He did it with a CBS reporter earlier this week, then sent out a news release with the small portion of the story that dealt with the issue. He has remained at the scene of this crash so long that voters are inevitably going to wonder if he has anywhere else to go.

Speaking of which, there is the matter of televised debates. Brown has accepted invitations for one in Springfield, and another hosted by WBZ-TV in Boston. Warren has accepted those two, plus one by the Kennedy Institute and another by a consortium of Boston media outlets, including the Globe.

Brown’s campaign manager refuses to discuss a debate schedule with Warren’s campaign, saying he will be accepting invitations “as we get them.” Small problem: that’s not true, given that he hasn’t responded to the consortium’s invitation to a final debate and offers no clue as to when he might.

“I don’t have a timetable,” Brown spokesman Colin Reed said.

Someone’s starting to look an awful lot like Martha Coakley on that front, and let’s all try to remember how that worked out for her.

Brown has been given this extraordinary opportunity by voters who truly want him to succeed. But right now, he’s taking on the look and tone of a guy who’s pressing his luck.

Brian McGrory is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at mcgrory@globe.com.
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