“Hey, guess who just called me, Seneder Scott Brown. Obamer!… Yeah, the President Obamer, smaht guy. Get this — the President calls me, from Air Force One, becuz he needs my input on illegal immigration. Yeah, he calls me, because some people can appreciate the importance of my fresh perspective… ”
Brown, in an interview with the Journal’s Neil King Jr., said the president was giving him a heads-up that immigration was coming down the pike and he should give it some serious thought. The senator promised to look closely at the bipartisan bill that Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) are trying to produce.
“He called me originally about illegal immigration, something that he wanted me to look at that was coming down the pike,” Brown says of the call, which also roamed onto other topics like basketball and financial regulation. “I told him and others that I will read anything and make a judgment when it comes forth.”
Alluding to the issue a few minutes later, Brown clarified what he told Obama. “When I said I have an open mind, it means I have an open mind to read the bill,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that I will vote for granting amnesty to anyone. But I want to be respectful to the president and to any member who brings me a proposal.”
The Boston media were somewhat less impressed than the WSJ — even the comments from Teabaggers displayed a certain flaccidity, and he wasn’t mentioned on the tv news. Fear of a Brown Nation isn’t as big an issue here in the Commonwealth… a good chunk of the local undocumented population comes from the paler portions of Europe, the Route-128-based glibertarians are more offended by the technically-legal chicanery surrounding H-1B permits, and the aging-Fox-news-viewer demographic tends to decamp to warmer climes with lower taxes where they can vote for people like Rubio and Hayward. But I’m betting there’s one group that won’t take Brown’s new notoriety kindly. Given the proud Rethug tradition of WATBs like Newt “I’m Shutting Down the Government Because Clinton Won’t Give Me First Dibs on AF-One Seats” Gingrinch, Senator Brown will be lucky if his fellow Republicans don’t key his trademark pickup truck.
Pretty clever if Obama can pick up a favorable vote with just one phone call… using the only-slightly-shopworn Brown as a crowbar, to leverage the spite and self-regard of his opponents.
Of course, when a new star arises, an old one must fall:
When Sen. Bob Bennett faces delegates at his party’s convention in less than three weeks, the embattled Republican will step on stage with Utah’s most revered politician, Mitt Romney.
The former presidential candidate, who won 89.5 percent of Utah’s GOP presidential primary in 2008, has already appeared in television ads and campaign literature for Bennett, and appears to be the senator’s trump card as he heads into his most difficult re-election bid. Bennett, who is vying against seven fellow party members for a fourth term, has turned to Romney on several occasions and is hoping a last-minute appearance by the state’s seemingly adopted son could help sway enough votes to keep Bennett afloat.
“He certainly has the highest approval rating of any politician outside the state and certainly as high as any inside the state,” Bennett said Monday. “So sure, we’re always happy to have him show up.”…
Romney has not embraced the tea party movement, which has coalesced to oppose Bennett. University of Utah political scientist Matthew Burbank said Romney reminds delegates that they don’t oppose the entire Republican establishment.
“What Senator Bennett’s hoping he’ll get here is the message that being a political insider isn’t a bad thing and here’s an example: Most of the delegates I suspect are big fans of Mitt Romney and would like to see him be the Republican nominee for president,” Burbank said. “Well, the only reason he can do that is because he’s paid his dues within the party.”
On the opposite side, Romney’s endorsement and campaigning for Bennett could come back to haunt him in a presidential race if Bennett loses to more conservative candidates.
Romney’s apparent popularity among Utahns bemuses those of us who remember him boasting that he chose to run for governor of Massachusetts because “the former governor of Utah doesn’t get elected President”. But, hey, religious tribalism trumps petty political calculation, I guess. I’m just having trouble seeing an upside for Romney’s strategy here. Yes, he needs to burnish his credentials with Republican primary voters if he’s going for the It’s-His-Turn spot atop the 2012 ticket, and the perennial party activists appreciate the guy who’s willing to show up and press flesh, especially if he’s flying in on his own dime. Only problem is, either Romney’s “establishment” candidates win — which will grievously aggravate the Tea Partyers — or those good grey incumbents lose, which makes Willard look like a loser, and Republicans of all varieties hate losers. Either way, Romney has to cozy up more with the ‘Baggers going into 2011, and by then surely the Gubmint-Out-of-My-Medicare tantrums will have lost their novelty value even for the relentlessly infotainment-oriented Media Village Idiots?
One conclusion remains: President Obama, whatever his political-chess skills, is unbelievably lucky in his choice of opponents.