Scott Brown is the Most _________* Man In America

*Fill in the blank. He’ll be whoever you want him to be.

THE SEARCH FOR SCOTT BROWN CONTINUES. Minutes after President Obama signs the House’s version of universal healthcare into law, the Senate Republicans meet for a lunch in a Capitol anteroom just off the Senate floor. They are a testy bunch. Few stop to talk about the monumental healthcare act, and of those who do, only Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine addresses questions in a tone warmer than outright derision. About the only Republican senator who doesn’t wade through the press scrum — he used a back door — is the same senator who, after the luncheon, slips away again: Scott Brown. One of Brown’s press secretaries, who himself comes to pace these august halls in search of his boss, assures that the new senator from Massachusetts will make himself available momentarily. But moments stretch into half an hour, and still no Brown. The press corps grows in number from two, to five, to more than a dozen, many of them silently furious at waiting this long, some now discussing openly what all of them want to know: What now for Scott Brown?

[sidebar]He’d staked a big chunk of his candidacy on the idea that his vote could derail Obamacare. And yet here is Obama on television, signing the House’s bill and smiling. Not exactly what Brown — or his many campaign donors, or the GOP — had in mind. No wonder the man is ducking out back doors.

Granted, it’s been a disorienting first few weeks for him, here in Washington. For his first major vote, on a jobs bill, Brown broke with his party and sided with the Democrats. The decision burned him among his right-edge constituency; they called him a traitor. A few weeks later, he hopped on a plane to Phoenix at the request of Senator John McCain — to appeal to that same demographic. McCain has a tough upcoming primary against an archconservative and thought he could use Brown. He thought right. Arizona’s right-wing Tea Party faction not only forgave Brown his jobs-bill vote, they adulated him. McCain tells this story about the plane landing in Phoenix to the sight of more people than he could have possibly expected — God-fearing, limited-government folk desperate to see the Republican oddity who filled Ted Kennedy’s seat. “He’s a national figure,” McCain will later say, before briefly casting his eyes downward, as if he, too, is attempting to understand it all.

Then there’s the media. Good lord, the media. The New York Times Magazine puts him on the cover and the accompanying story adores him as much as that infamous Cosmo spread did. Wolf Blitzer has him on The Situation Room, and Brown says aw shucks, he’s always wanted to be on the show — thereby ending the tough questions about healthcare reform. Barbara Walters asks him about running for president. Brown blushes and says, “I — I have to — I have to tell you: I don’t even have a business card.”