On Sunday, Massachusetts incumbent Scott Brown delivered the
commencement address at Lasell College. Commencement speeches by
politicians are rarely newsworthy, but this speech was, because it
exposed Brown’s penchant for political double-speak.
Instead of using the platform to inspire young people to achieve great things, as most commencement speakers do, Brown used it to launch an ad hominem attack on Democrats in the Massachusetts state House and to highlight the corruption trial of a former elected official. Surely, partisan attacks are strange subject matter for a commencement, but even stranger when you consider Brown’s distaste for what he defines as “partisan attacks.”
Brown and his political advisers constantly use the refrain that Massachusetts is no place for partisanship and that Brown himself is above partisanship. During the campaign in 2009, Brown decried the political ads sponsored by outside groups on his behalf (but then voted against a bill that would institute some transparency for those ads by forcing disclosure of their funding). He constantly complains that the campaign cycle “never stops” while criticizing anyone who questions him as a politically motivated partisan.
But there he stood on Sunday, using the platform provided to him by an institute of higher learning to get down into the gutter and throw mud at his political foes. He blasted the state House for a “go along, get along” attitude and a “culture of corruption.” Never mind that during his years in the state Senate, Brown never spoke out against the “culture of corruption” around him. Maybe he was “going along to get along”?
Brown doesn’t want to talk about his record. His strategy is clear: Any discussion about his record is a partisan attack, and partisanship has no place in the public discourse unless Scott Brown is doing the partisan attacking.
David Di Martino is a Democratic communications consultant based in Washington.