Brian McGrory

Senator Scott Brown’s crass warfare

An “elitist hypocrite,’’ senator? Really?

Scott Brown is always agitated over something these days, though rarely anything having to do with, say, the miserable economy, or inequitable tax rates, or the total inability of our federal officials to actually get anything done.

Now he seems to be fuming that his main Democratic rival, Elizabeth Warren, has done pretty well for herself financially. A filing publicized last week had her making $700,000 in income over a recent two-year period, and it’s even more than that when you factor in a government salary she received during part of that time.


Whatever the figure, it’s sent Brown over the edge. It caused his campaign manager, a seemingly nice young Vermonter named Jim Barnett, to toss out the “elitist hypocrite’’ description, like it’s a crime to climb the ladder of success in America and impossible to remember what life is like on the lower rungs.

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If I’m correctly reading Brown’s bizarre logic, Warren is guilty of being a class traitor? She shouldn’t be able to make money because she grew up relatively poor? Or once she did make money, she should have become an advocate for the rich?

Old friend Mitt Romney already has the latter pretty well covered, arguing, as he does, that the mega wealthy and corporations should be taxed less, not more. Now Romney’s dribbling out word that he’s been paying at a 15 percent rate. Think about that the next time you scan the withholdings in your pay stub. Romney is taxed at a far lower rate than you.

This is what Warren Buffet meant last summer when he argued for loopholes to be closed and rates to be raised for the super rich, writing, “If you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine - most likely by a lot.’’

Back to Scott Brown. Nice man. Handsome, too. On stage at a campaign kick-off in Worcester tomorrow, he will begin introducing himself to an electorate that has yet to really know him. His last campaign lasted about three weeks, and he basically found himself in the right place at the right time with the right opponent.


These two years later, I want to admire him as our homegrown moderate in an age of blistering partisanship. I want him to be the voice of reason in an unreasonable city. He does cast the occasional vote against his own party, and he is able to occasionally talk common sense. But then he inevitably gets in his own way.

Start with the low-road campaign he’s been running, always referring to Warren, a member of the Harvard Law School faculty, as “professor,’’ as if academic achievement is a slur on voter sensibilities, Brown channeling Sarah Palin. That doesn’t quite take into account how Brown graduated from a more elite college (Tufts) than Warren (University of Houston).

Nor does Brown’s hyperventilating on Warren’s pay take into account the $700,000 advance he got for his memoir. You elected him to the Senate, he cashed in with a ghost-written book. I’m sure he appreciates your boost up the ladder of financial success, even if he’s never said it.

Then there’s the “elitist’’ thing. For kicks, I typed into Google “Massachusetts GOP, Warren, and elitist,’’ to see how often she’s referred to that way. My computer actually exploded. Never seen that. It would take me until Election Day to read all the hits. So I called Barnett, Brown’s campaign manager, and asked why Warren’s pay made her an “elitist hypocrite.’’

“Professor Warren has a bad habit that is not uncommon among holier than thou elitists, namely engaging in the same sort of behavior that they look down on others for,’’ he replied in an e-mail.


Perfect. And to think it’s the Republicans in Washington who are accusing the Democrats of class warfare.

Brown didn’t ask for my advice, but I’ll offer some anyway: You’re better than this campaign, better than the name-calling. Start acting like it before you find yourself out of the best job you’ll ever have.

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