Brian McGrory

Our political storm troupers

And here I thought that it was only my television brethren and jacked-up weathermen who sacrificed their self-respect in the name of every aberrant weather system that comes our way.

Now we learn there’s another profession that’s just as willing to dispense with dignity in the name of momentary opportunity, and we’ve seen it this week in spades. I bring you, ladies and gentlemen, your storm-ready politicians.

Ends up, when the waning moments of the campaign season crash into the final weeks of hurricane season, the result is a silly season that poses grave danger to the future of this republic.


We begin, of course, with Governor Deval Patrick and the utterly nifty MEMA (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency) vest that he dons every time he descends into the state bunker (!) in Framingham to let us know that it’s raining and windy, exactly as the National Weather Service predicted. But at least Patrick has actual responsibilities, and perhaps this time he’ll spend more time pushing the laggard utilities rather than commending them.

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Sandy seemed to be a hurricane only an incumbent could love. How else to explain the way embattled US Representative John Tierney happened to catch up with a television reporter doing her Young-Woman-And-The-Sea routine on the North Shore at the height of the storm Monday afternoon?

I’m paraphrasing here, but the conversation went something like this: “Congressman, you’re single-handedly trying to keep everyone on this island safe from disaster?”

“Yes. Yes I am.”

President Obama stepped off the campaign trail to look presidential, signing disaster relief proclamations and directing the federal response. Mitt Romney spent the better part of the storm hoping that his earlier suggestion that FEMA is unnecessary would blow out to sea.


But for pure storm theater, nobody could rival Scott Brown, the Republican senator who looks like he was put on this earth to wear a navy blue windbreaker and assure a fragile populace that he will lead the way to salvation with his steady demeanor and strong jaw.

He stood outside Quincy City Hall on the fourth stop of a seven-community storm tour Tuesday afternoon and looked aghast — aghast! — that a television reporter asked if he planned to reschedule the Tuesday night debate with opponent Elizabeth Warren, canceled amid Sandy’s aftermath.

“I’m focused on my day job,” Brown curtly said, as if it was utter, insulting lunacy that he would even be thinking about Election Day as so many people deal with cracked flowerpots, loose branches, and yes, candles burned down to the wick. “If you want to talk about campaign stuff, call the campaign.”

He then proceeded to talk about how Warren had declined invitations to two prior radio debates in the campaign. And then an aide — a campaign aide — loudly announced that the senator would be headed inside to meet with the mayor of Quincy (!).

When the officials emerged from a closed-door session, presumably to embark on the scheduled damage tour, they announced there wouldn’t be a tour because there really wasn’t all that much damage, but it was good that the senator stopped by anyway. Seriously.


And then there is the small matter of the canceled debate. The storm upended plans to hold it as scheduled Tuesday, and Warren agreed to reschedule it Thursday. The sponsoring media organizations, including the Globe, were willing to hold it then. But Brown would not commit — perhaps a way of saying he’s ahead in his internal polls and hell will freeze over before he stands with Warren again. The result: The final Senate debate is now officially canceled.

By the way, if anyone is curious as to Warren’s whereabouts Tuesday, she was — where else? — in Westport and Scituate, solemnly surveying storm damage and chatting with people walking their dogs.

I’ll conclude with one bit of good news. Campaigns, like storms, eventually pass. Until then, though, Frankenstorm feels like Campaignageddon.

Brian McGrory is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at