I went into Thursday night’s debate between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren wondering whether the Cherokee thing would come up. After all, the story’s a few months old, and you’d think the moderator would do everything he could to avoid such a peripheral issue, right? Hah. I barely had time to plug in my computer before Brown was reminding the audience of Warren’s ethnic confusion, and of what that said about her character. His initial assault set the mood for the rest of the debate, an hour of cordial tension and pointed criticism.
“I think that Senator Brown is, um, a nice guy,” Warren began before launching into an explanation of how her family stories informed her racial identity. “This is my family, this is who I am, and it’s not going to change,” she said. Another thing that’s not going to change: the status of her personnel records from Harvard, which she’s staunchly refused to release, despite Brown’s contention that those records are the only way to demonstrate that she didn’t capitalize on her supposed heritage.
And tensions didn’t really simmer down after that exchange. Warren argued that Brown cared more about big businesses than about the working class, given his opposition to several Senate jobs bills. “It was a bipartisan rejection,” he snapped, “political votes put up just to score points so you could talk about it today.”
And that epitomizes the primary clash of the debate: Warren stated, over and over and over, that she wanted to protect working families and make corporations pay their fair share. Brown criticized the professor for her comfort with tax hikes on job creators and defended his legacy of pushing for lower taxes. Rinse, lather, repeat.
Warren could have gotten herself in trouble with one of her assaults on Brown’s record. She stressed that he supported “subsidies” for oil companies, and brought up several times that the top five of these corporations make a cumulative $137 billion in profits every year. Once she added that the government’s efforts to keep the price of gas low stifle the impetus to develop alternative energy.
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