After consumer finance advocate and Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren joked that she didn’t take her clothes off to pay for college, Scott Brown decided that an appropriate rejoinder would be to call up talk radio and tell listeners how relieved he is that he doesn’t have to see his opponent naked:
Warren probably shouldn’t have made the original comment, but Brown’s sin here is vastly worse. Warren’s comments about Brown’s posing for Cosmopolitan were a judgement of Brown’s behavior, Brown’s comments were a superficial, inappropriate, and degrading judgment on Warren’s appearance, on who he thinks she is. This is an ancient script, and a sadly typical way to try to take the focus away from the relevant qualities of smart, strong women, like when Don Imus calls Hillary Clinton “that buck-toothed witch, Satan.” And men aren’t entirely immune either: Brown’s comments come after several weeks of fierce national debates over whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s weight disqualified him from the presidency. But as ugly as the conversation about Christie has been, I can’t even imagine the vitriol that would be aimed at a woman of Christie’s age and equivalent body weight if she were poised to be a national political figure.
Of course, this is probably where Brown would like the debate to be. Last time out, he won his Senate seat on the strength of a barnyard coat, a pickup truck, and an opponent who didn’t know her Red Sox trivia as well as she should have. At the time, one of his campaign consultants said that the jacket proved that “Scott is the Rocky Balboa of Massachusetts politics.” But this time, Rocky from Wrentham’s going up against Warren, who may name-check Wonder Woman in debates, but she doesn’t need a Lasso of Truth—she has actual ideas and credibility. If I were Brown, I’d be worried. But bodysnarking Elizabeth Warren isn’t going to make Brown’s status as Wall Street’s favorite Senator go away.