Will Scott Brown Have Woman Trouble in 2012?


>Scott Brown, our allegedly moderate, pro-choice, "support the troops" senator voted against a bill allowing military women overseas to obtain privately financed abortions at military hospitals.  "An unwanted pregnancy in a war zone is a professional as well as a personal crisis for a woman," The New York Times reports; "regulations require that a woman be flown home within two weeks of the time she finds out she's pregnant, a particular stigma of unmarried women that ends any future career advancement." (If only the fathers were shipped home with them, policies might quickly change.)  Brown offered no explanation for his vote against the rights and interests of troops he claims loudly to support, but none was really needed.  Neither anti-abortion advocates who supported Brown nor pro-choice advocates who opposed him will be surprised by this vote, and a majority of voters may not notice or care about it.  
Brown may also want to mute his support for Republican congressional candidate Jeffrey Perry, who's running for retiring Democrat Bill Delahunt's seat.  Evidence uncovered by The Boston Globe strongly implicates Perry in a thuggish, attempted cover-up of a fellow officer's abusive strip searches of two teenage girls.  Perry "blames a bad memory" for his various contradictory statements; he was not charged in either case but resigned from the department 6 months after an investigation of the searches commenced and two weeks after the indictment of his colleague (who eventually plead guilty).
Perry's unsavory history may well have been unknown to Scott Brown (and other Republicans supporting Perry in a primary against former state treasurer Joe Malone, who "presided over the biggest theft of state funds in Massachusetts's history").  But it's front page news now and may become difficult to ignore, especially for Senator Brown who used his own daughters to soften his all important image during his campaign against Martha Coakley. (They appeared in an ad attacking Coakley for being mean to their dad when she charged, truthfully, that, as a state senator, he had supported an amendment limiting the rights of rape victims to emergency contraception.)  
I don't imagine that Brown is at all sympathetic to police officers who strip search teenage girls; I don't consider him guilty by association of Jeffrey Perry's apparent complicity in abuse.  But live by the sword...Scott Brown is a creature of appearances; his public persona is a mirage.  And if Jeffrey Perry were a Democrat, I doubt Brown would hesitate to attack or maybe use his daughters to attack Perry and Democratic politicians who endorsed him.
Brown is campaigning for a full Senate term (he's up for re-election in 2012). He's overseeing his memoir, to be published in 2011, and carefully compiling a record that appears to have at least a little something for everyone.  A social conservative in a relatively, socially liberal state, he refers opaquely to Roe v Wade and gay marriage in Massachusetts as "settled law," professing support for state determination of marriage rights, while voting for an array of anti-abortion measures and against same sex marriages in D.C.  A generally reliable Republican vote, he seems inclined to take an occasional high profile stand with Democrats on relatively popular issues, like the Senate jobs bill.  His surprise election earlier this year partly reflected the undiscriminating support of active democratic women for favorite daughter Martha Coakley (as I suggested here).  If they find no female candidate to organize for in 2012, at least they'll have a male to organize against.

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Wendy Kaminer is an author, lawyer, and civil libertarian. She is the author of I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional.

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