Opinion Brief

Scott Brown vs. the Tea Party

Senator Brown "snubbed" the Tea Party and Sarah Palin by turning down a Boston rally invitation. Is he biting the hand that fed him?

Can Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) risk the perception that he's snubbing the Tea Party movement whose money helped fuel his unexpected January election? Apparently. The Senator, who's shown other signs of ambivalence towards the movement, declined an invitation to appear with Tea Party icon Sarah Palin at a Boston Tea Party rally Wednesday, saying he has work to do in Washington.  Is Brown biting the hand that fed him?

Brown owes this to the Tea Party, and himself: It's obvious that Brown should ditch his "fellow politicians" for "thousands of the voters who elected him," says Boston radio host Michael Graham at The Natural Truth. Courting the "passion" of these independents and Republicans flocking to Tea Parties is his best shot for getting re-elected in "overwhelmingly Democratic Massachusetts." "Scott Brown, profile in courage?"

The Tea Party's political poison: "Apparently Scott Brown is savvy enough" to ignore that advice, says Jed Lewison at Daily Kos. Outside of deeply conservative states and districts, Americans just aren't that into the Tea Party. The "political toxicity" of the anti-tax activists is so great that a recent FOX News poll found they were even less popular than the IRS."Scott Brown throws the Tea Party into Boston Harbor"

He's missing a key exposure opportunity: Skipping the Boston Tea Party does hint at his 2012 re-election strategy, says Colby Hall in Mediaite. But avoiding the "fringe elements" has its costs, too. The "optics" of the Boston Tea Party will be "outstanding," and sharing the stage with "someone as big, exciting — and yes, controversial — as Sarah Palin" on national TV is a rare gift for an "up-and-comer." "Scott Brown snubs Sarah Palin, shuns Tea Party rally"

Brown really does have something better to do: Taking the stage with Palin "would be political idiocy" in Massachusetts, says David S. Bernstein in The Boston Phoenix, but Brown's excuse for not attending is perfectly legitimate — with hearings on Iran policy and nuclear strategy, he actually does have important work to do Wednesday. "How quickly they turn (on Scott Brown)"

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