Scott Brown responds to Palin’s criticism: Hey, I’m a Massachusetts Republican

So he is, and every last one of us was fully aware of it when Scott Brown fee-vah was raging on the right before the special election. Even the Big Red Wave that’s a-comin’ isn’t enough to paint Massachusetts red, so it’s either Scotty B or Generic Massachusetts Democrat X in Teddy’s old seat. I’ll take Scotty.

Sarah Palin, who is pushing tea party candidates further to the right, dissed Brown, saying he was not conservative enough to pass muster in a state such as Alaska.

Brown is brushing off the intraparty attacks, making no apologies for the pledge of independence he preached during his campaign and says he is living out in Washington.

“I’m a Massachusetts Republican. When I go down to Washington, people say, what are you doing? They say, well you are working with the Democrats. I say, so what’s the big deal? I do that all the time. I’ve been doing it for 15 years,” Brown said.

“I don’t know what the surprise is,” he said of the attitude of critics from the far right. “I said I was going to go down there and be an independent voice, an independent thinker and vote accordingly,” he said.

The media’s hyping this as some sort of “true conservative”/RINO intraparty smackdown but both sides are more equivocal than you think. Palin, while dismissing Brown’s “antics,” acknowledged that he might be a better fit for Massachusetts than a Joe Miller type; meanwhile, in today’s interview, Brown saluted the “outsiders” in this year’s candidate crop who are bringing “a new perspective and new ideas, I think a new accountability,” which I assume is a reference to tea-party candidates like Miller. In fact, per what I said two weeks ago about Palin being a savvier politician than even her biggest supporters sometimes give her credit for, I wonder if her knock on Brown isn’t something done deliberately to boost him with Massachusetts voters. As any Chuck DeVore fan will tell you, Palin has no qualms about supporting a more centrist candidate over someone more right-wing in a blue state if she thinks there are electoral advantages to doing so. She knows that the left loathes her too, so beating up on Brown for not being enough of a “Sarah Palin conservative” will only endear him to the Democrats he needs to win. (It also gives him a little extra space to vote with the GOP since, even if he annoys Massachusetts lefties by doing so, he can always comfort them with the thought that their Wicked Witch thinks he’s a bleeding-heart liberal.) I’m not sure that that’s what she’s doing here — maybe she just really doesn’t like Brown — but for someone whose endorsements attract so much attention, maybe she’s realized that an anti-endorsement under the right circumstances can also help the GOP. Turn that polarizing effect to your advantage, Sarah!

Exit question: Speaking of polarization, what can she do now to turn this around?

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