What Tacky Pandering, Scott Brown

Illustration by Louisa Bertman

There are days when Scott Brown disgusts me.

Our junior U.S. Senator’s announced that he’s put in a request to conduct his yearly National Guard training in Afghanistan. He could do this anywhere, mind you; for instance, he continues to drill every month in Milford. But last time I checked Milford wasn’t a war zone where Brown could cheapen his military service for political gain. You can just about see the photo op now: Our courageous Senator, jogging along Kabul’s dusty streets, over its derelict souls, all the way to a sizable lead in his 2012 Senate race.

That’s of course what this is about. Brown says he wants to go over there to “better understand our ongoing mission.” But he could do that in civilian clothes like any other politician. Heck, he could probably score the choicest seat on the next out-going Congressional jet, given how our other Senator, John Kerry, chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But no, Brown will head to Afghanistan in combat attire, his calisthenics bolstered, no doubt, by the wind of gushing Fox News anchor who may very well cover his every move with the pomp of the Royal Wedding.

Let me be clear here. I don’t always dislike Scott Brown. I can see why he charms people. He works hard. He tends to vote his conscience, or at least does a thorough job convincing the public of as much. That he came from nothing — in fact worse than nothing; a violent, scarring childhood — only notches a few more points in Brown’s political favor.

And when Boston’s Eileen McNamara wrote last month that Brown used for political gain one such episode from his youth, his heretofore untold story of sexual abuse, published in his memoir, I disagreed with her. I thought it was a story he had to tell if he was going to write his story. I didn’t think it was for political expedience.

I now think I was naive. This guy, his latest move, is as calculated as any politician gets, announced the morning after Osama bin Laden was killed, a mission whose start date just happens — isn’t that convenient? — to coincide with President Obama’s arranged drawback of troops from the country. The sell couldn’t be more perfect — or more obvious.

I’ll avoid it at all costs.