This item is crossposted from ProgressiveFix.
A lot of dumb things get said in American political commentary, and I’ve undoubtedly said a few myself over the years. But one dumb thing that ought to be quickly exploded is the persistent talk that newly minted Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts might run a viable campaign for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.
Yes, Brown is a godlike figure to Republicans right now. Yes, various domain names connected with a Brown presidential run got snatched up the moment he won his Senate race. And yes, he’s the symbol of the “fresh faces” Republicans long for every time they look at the rather unexciting (or in the case of Sarah Palin, too exciting) field they will likely choose from in 2012.
But it ain’t happening. And that’s not because of his rather signal lack of experience since, as his fans love to point out, Barack Obama only had a year more of elected experience beyond the state senate when he was elected in 2008.
To mention the most important reason it ain’t happening: Brown is pro-choice. He explicitly opposes overturning Roe v. Wade, and in fact, his rhetoric on abortion is remarkably similar to that of the president. And this, boys and girls, has become an absolute disqualifier for Republican presidential prospects these days; just ask Rudy Guiliani. Or better yet, ask John McCain or Joe Lieberman, since McCain’s decision to put Lieberman on his ticket in 2008 was only abandoned when his advisors told him he’d face a potentially successful convention revolt if a pro-choice running-mate were chosen.
Sure, pro-lifers supported Brown’s Senate run, but there’s all the difference in the world between being a candidate in a blue state who can help disrupt Democratic control of the upper chamber, and being a candidate for national leader of the GOP and the person who makes Supreme Court appointments. Past Republican presidential candidates have gotten into trouble for failing to support a constitutional amendment recognizing fetuses from the moment of conception as “persons” endowed with full constitutional rights. Supporting Roe is an abomination to today’s GOPers; in a recent poll, self-identified Republican voters said they considered abortion “murder” by a margin of 76 percent to eight percent (nearly a third of them, in fact, want to outlaw contraceptives). This is not a negotiable issue.
If that’s not enough to convince you that Brown 2012 is a mirage, consider another problem: Brown was and remains an avid supporter of Massachusetts’ universal health plan, which is extremely similar to the national plan passed without a single Republican vote by the U.S. Senate. That wasn’t a problem for Brown in the Senate race; indeed, his main argument for his pledge that he would vote against any such bill in the Senate was that Massachusetts didn’t need help from the feds because they had already enacted the same reforms. But he’s still on record favoring a “socialist” scheme for health care, and specific items like an individual mandate for health insurance coverage, which most Republicans nationally consider unconstitutional, or perhaps even a form of slavery.
To be sure, this is a problem that Brown shares with Mitt Romney, who signed his state’s version of ObamaCare into law. But Romney has been inching away from the health plan since his 2008 presidential campaign, and will probably repudiate it entirely before long, while Brown’s hugs for the plan are very fresh.
Speaking of Romney: his own presidential ambitions are still another bar to a Brown candidacy. The Brown campaign kept the Mittster under wraps until Election Night, which was smart since Romney is not very popular in Massachusetts. But Brown’s political advisors are all Romney people, who presumably have some residual loyalty to their old boss. Will Romney, who probably first saw a future President of the United States in the mirror before entering kindergarten, step aside for this whippersnapper? Unlikely, and there’s definitely no room in a Republican presidential field for two socialized-medicine supporters from Massachusetts.
So you can forget about Brown for President in 2012, which will become apparent once he starts casting heretical votes in the Senate in order to position himself for a re-election run that same year. He clearly seems smart enough to understand that in 2012, he’ll be dealing with far less favorable turnout patterns, and can’t expect his opponent to run as feckless a campaign as Martha Coakley’s. Odds are, Democrats will run a candidate against Brown who has heard of Curt Schilling and doesn’t wait until the final week to run ads.
This item is crossposted from ProgressiveFix.