Who you thought won this debate depends on what you consider truly important.
Certainly if one plans to cast a ballot in a US Senate race based on the unsubstantiated assertion that Elizabeth Warren may have gotten some benefit by listing herself as having Native American heritage, then that person would call Scott Brown the victor.
Let’s go further: If one is inclined to decide his or her vote for this hugely important office based on the possibility that Warren trimmed the truth, rather than misunderstood the question, about how Harvard Law School came to list her as having Native American heritage, then that person probably judged Brown the slam-dunk winner. The senator once again used that as part of a determined attack on Warren’s character — an attack moderator David Gregory let consume far, far too much of this debate.
But for this observer, Brown’s obsession with painting Warren as a dishonest fraud who has failed a threshold character test is not just tiresome but off-putting.
If, like me, you wanted to hear the two candidates discuss issues and philosophies, then I think you’d call Warren the winner. She gave viewers a good sense of the jobs approach she’d take. Although she dodged a little on Simpson-Bowles, she was willing to face up to Brown’s anti-tax attack by saying she favored more revenue.
As for Brown, he once again tap-danced around the question of whether he would ever support any new revenue for deficit reduction. Nor did he give any real sense how the deficit should be tackled without it.
Now, perhaps my priorities are backwards. Yet by debate’s end, I found myself wishing that our junior senator considered issues about the nation’s fiscal future maybe a tenth as important as he does the matter of Warren’s undocumented ancestry.
Scot Lehigh can be reached at
email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GlobeScotLehigh.