So completely has Brown triumphed over the past that, in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, he could equate all the publicity generated by his book’s abuse revelations to his halcyon days as a nude centerfold. “I haven’t felt so exposed since I appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine back in 1982,” he joked.
So successfully has Brown remade himself that he sees no contradiction between his mother’s reliance on federal assistance and his support for a political agenda to dismantle the very safety net that put that “government-issue cheese” in his family’s refrigerator.
So effectively has he distanced himself from his predatory camp counselor that he can write that he “purposefully erased his name from my mind” and tell interviewers that while he actually does remember the man’s name, he sees no need to pursue him legally, since “he’d probably be 70 now”—as if child molesters come with expiration dates and he has no responsibility to protect the children his assailant might yet target.
As he travels the country hawking his book, Brown makes much in interviews of his efforts on behalf of child abuse victims. His book, which devotes fewer than six pages to his legislative career in Massachusetts and almost 60 to his campaigns, is a more accurate reflection of his record. Brown was on Beacon Hill from 1999 to 2010 before moving on to Washington. During that decade there were lawmakers who worked tirelessly on behalf of abuse victims, but Scott Brown was not among those indefatigable advocates. That he jumped on an overloaded bandwagon in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis in the Archdiocese of Boston falls somewhere short of leadership on the issue.
President Obama was mocked for “throwing his grandmother under the bus” in 2008 when he mentioned during a campaign speech that she was afraid of black men who passed her on the street. It would take an 18-wheeler to accommodate the family members Brown sacrifices in service of his tale of self-reliance: his vodka-swilling mother, his deadbeat dad, his greedy aunt and uncle, his violent stepfathers.
This is a book about his triumph over their failures. Their moral weaknesses provide the requisite contrast to his extraordinary strength of character. Their life stories matter only inasmuch as they shed light on his stunning success, whether as a centerfold for Cosmo, a Republican upstart in Democratic Massachusetts, or a happily married family man.
Brown makes much of having forgiven his negligent parents—he is magnanimous as well as resilient—but the whole thing is payback masquerading as reconciliation.
His tunnel vision even extends to the supporting cast: a few caring coaches and the judge who gave him a second chance after Brown was pinched for shoplifting at age 13. It is amusing for those who have followed Judge Samuel E. Zoll’s career to see Salem District Court repackaged as Boys Town and a crack legal mind recast as Father Flanagan taking a mischievous scamp under his wing. But how does Brown manage to write a memoir dominated by domestic violence without mentioning that Zoll led efforts to both strengthen judicial protection for victims of spousal abuse in Massachusetts and hold judges accountable who failed to do so? Maybe he doesn’t know. Or maybe Zoll, too, only exists in relation to Brown’s up-from-his-bootstraps story.
Socrates was wrong. The unexamined life is worth living. Scott Brown has put one between hard covers and, with the complicity of a fawning media, dramatically launched his reelection bid for the United States Senate from Massachusetts.