IF SCOTT Brown is serious about running for governor, he should stop the silly Twitter talk.
It gives him a trending credibility problem.
Explaining an odd succession of recent tweets — including the infamous “Bqhatevwr” — Brown came up with a convoluted tale that involved an iPhone in his pocket. As others have noted, the explanation he gave to Fox 25’s Maria Stephanos about the resulting Twitter explosion — “worldwide trending, on a pocket tweet” — is highly improbable.
It’s a little thing, but it chips away at Scott Brown Inc., a brand he needs to keep fresh and honest if he really hopes to have a political future in Massachusetts.
It’s also a reminder of Brown’s previous weakness for truth-stretching — like when he went on the radio last year and said that as senator from Massachusetts he had “secret meetings with kings and queens,” or when he told CNN that he got “calls all the time” from President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He also said in several televised interviews that he had seen photos of Osama bin Laden’s body, and suggested that as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee he had viewed them as part of an official briefing.
Brown was forced to acknowledge that the bin Laden pictures were fakes distributed on the Internet. His campaign staff said he misspoke about meetings with royalty and also admitted he spoke only once each with Obama and Biden, twice with Clinton — and that all calls took place in the distant past.
During their Senate showdown last year, Brown challenged Elizabeth Warren’s credibility around the issue of her Native American heritage. It was a fair question and she never put it entirely to rest. But Warren won, Brown lost, and right now, he’s the one with the rebranding challenge.
When the little known state lawmaker won a special Senate election in 2010 on the strength of likeability and an advertising blitz, he created his own niche as a “Scott Brown Republican.” However, once elected, he had a tough time defining what that meant ideologically. Meanwhile, when he ran against Warren, he replaced the nice guy persona that was part of his appeal with a meaner, more aggressive one.
It didn’t sell last November. So now he seems to be trying to come up with a more marketable product.
Democrats happily suggest that Brown’s new platform as a paid Fox News contributor will drive him to the right in a way that makes it hard to run in Massachusetts. But he’s smart enough to avoid that trap. Being a paid pundit gives him a chance to address serious issues in a thoughtful, eloquent way. In his losing race against Warren, he failed to do that and instead came across as shallow and one-dimensional.
But if he’s now trying to look serious and thoughtful, tweeting nonsense undercuts the effort. Nonsensical explanations about the tweets undercut even more. Brown’s inclination to blame anyone but himself doesn’t help his cause, either.
When Stephanos pressed him on his tweeting mishap — “So you’re saying it was just a mistake?” — Brown replied: “Well what else would it be? What, am I just randomly pressing numbers and throwing it out there? It just shows you, though, as a public figure, someone is waiting for you – especially because I was considering running.”
He also challenged the theory put out by detractors on Twitter that he was “drunk tweeting,” as he put it to Stephanos. “First of all I rarely drink. The last time I was ever drunk was at my bachelor party. That was, what, 28 years ago? 27 years ago? So I guess no one has ever pocket dialed or pocket tweeted before.”
Brown disappointed Bay State Republicans by waiting until Feb. 1 to announce that he wouldn’t run in the special election to fill the Senate seat that was held by now Secretary of State John Kerry. Now he’s thinking about running for governor. If he’s serious, it’s time to stop the silliness.
It’s a little thing, but it chips away at Scott Brown Inc., a brand he needs to keep honest if he really hopes to have a political future.
Every time he exaggerates or trims the truth on a small matter, he leaves himself open to challenge on the bigger ones.Joan Vennochi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Joan_Vennochi.