Brown and Warren take off the gloves

Last night's debate revealed how heated this Massachusetts Senate contest has been -- and may yet become VIDEO

Topics: Massachusetts, 2012 Elections, Senate, The American Prospect, Congress, Scott Brown, Elizabeth Warren, Cherokee,

Brown and Warren take off the glovesRepublican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, right, and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, left. (Credit: Associated Press)
This article originally appeared on The American Prospect.

The American Prospect What a ruckus! NBC’s David Gregory hosted the second debate between Massachusetts Senate candidates, sitting Republican Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren. If you want to call the interruption derby that devolved before the University of Massachusetts at Lowell students’ eyes a debate. Gregory opened by asking Warren about the well-worn Cherokee heritage controversy. Warren repeated what she’s said before—including in the last debate, which Brown opened by attacking her on the same issue. (Full disclosure: Warren’s daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi, is a member of The American Prospect’s board of directors and is chair of the board of the magazine’s publishing partner, Demos.)

Gregory devoted many minutes of the debate to the issue, which began when the Boston Herald reported that Harvard University had claimed Warren as a minority on forms to counteract claims that its faculty wasn’t diverse enough. Brown wants to use it to cast doubt on the entire biography Warren presents to voters—who were by and large unfamiliar with her before she entered the race—and also to score points with working-class voters who are suspicious of affirmative action. He’s suggesting she got a job she was otherwise unqualified for. That’s a position that misunderstands the fundamental nature and purpose of affirmative action, and its a view Gregory reinforced when he asked Brown if there was any reason to think Warren was unqualified otherwise. Brown would not say that. He’s said, over and over, that he thinks she’s a good professor, and he ended last night’s debate by saying that he would do “anything in [his] power” to keep her in that position.

Otherwise, the roundtable format Gregory had said he wanted to be a “healthy, cordial exchange,” turned into a battle to finish sentences, with counter claims and accusations of lies flying between the two candidates. Gregory lost control. The format allowed for one moment, when Warren tried to interrupt Brown, when Brown got to let loose with something he must have been planning for a long time: “Excuse me, I’m not a student in your classroom. Please let me respond, ok?” Buuuuuuuurrrrrrrrn. #plannedzinger



Is it sacrilege to admit that it was refreshing when students started asking basic questions allowing the candidates to revert to talking points? Because that’s what I felt when that very thing happened, 40 minutes in. Finally, the candidates knew what they were saying, things ran smoothly, and Twitter could stop populating my timeline with fake questions Gregory wanted to ask. “Who is your favorite Kardashian?” He did ask Warren why there hadn’t been a female senator from Massachusetts. “I don’t know,” she said, reasonably. “Right now I’m trying to do something about that.”

The race has, in the past week, turned into the sort of mudslinging that had been kept at bay by a dignified-sounding but destined-to-die pact to play nice. It reached a new level of ugliness when Brown supporters, including some campaign staffers, faked tomahawk chops and war-whoops to mock Warren’s Cherokee story: Some in Massachusetts have been calling her Fauxahontas and Lieawatha since April. (Over the weekend, David Treuer, a member of the Ojibwe tribe, wrote a great New York Times editorial about the prejudices and racism that American Indians face.) The Massachusetts Senate race is one of a handful that will decide the balance of the Senate. If Brown returns for a new term in 2013, it’ll be because he was never as much of a fluke as national observers thought. If Warren wins, she’ll be the most talked-about freshman senator since Illinois sent Barack Obama to D.C. in 2005. It’s also been the most expensive race this year, and, as it drags on, it’s costing even more.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 22
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Talking Heads, 1977
    This was their first weekend as a foursome at CBGB’s, after adding Jerry Harrison, before they started recording the LP “Talking Heads: 77.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Patti Smith, Bowery 1976
    Patti lit up by the Bowery streetlights. I tapped her on the shoulder, asked if I could do a picture, took two shots and everyone went back to what they were doing. 1/4 second at f/5.6 no tripod.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Blondie, 1977
    This was taken at the Punk Magazine Benefit show. According to Chris Stein (seated, on slide guitar), they were playing “Little Red Rooster.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    No Wave Punks, Bowery Summer 1978
    They were sitting just like this when I walked out of CBGB's. Me: “Don’t move” They didn’t. L to R: Harold Paris, Kristian Hoffman, Diego Cortez, Anya Phillips, Lydia Lunch, James Chance, Jim Sclavunos, Bradley Field, Liz Seidman.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Richard Hell + Bob Quine, 1978
    Richard Hell and the Voidoids, playing CBGB's in 1978, with Richard’s peerless guitar player Robert Quine. Sorely missed, Quine died in 2004.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bathroom, 1977
    This photograph of mine was used to create the “replica” CBGB's bathroom in the Punk Couture show last summer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So I got into the Met with a bathroom photo.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Stiv Bators + Divine, 1978
    Stiv Bators, Divine and the Dead Boys at the Blitz Benefit show for injured Dead Boys drummer Johnny Blitz.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ramones, 1977
    “The kids are all hopped up and ready to go…” View from the unique "side stage" at CBGB's that you had to walk past to get to the basement bathrooms.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Klaus Nomi, Christopher Parker, Jim Jarmusch – Bowery 1978
    Jarmusch was still in film school, Parker was starring in Jim’s first film "Permanent Vacation" and Klaus just appeared out of nowhere.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Hilly Kristal, Bowery 1977
    When I used to show people this picture of owner Hilly Kristal, they would ask me “Why did you photograph that guy? He’s not a punk!” Now they know why. None of these pictures would have existed without Hilly Kristal.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Dictators, Bowery 1976
    Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators with his girlfriend Jody. I took this shot as a thank you for him returning the wallet I’d lost the night before at CBGB's. He doesn’t like that I tell people he returned it with everything in it.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Alex Chilton, Bowery 1977
    We were on the median strip on the Bowery shooting what became a 45 single sleeve for Alex’s “Bangkok.” A drop of rain landed on the camera lens by accident. Definitely a lucky night!

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bowery view, 1977
    The view from across the Bowery in the summer of 1977.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ramones, 1977 – never before printed
    I loved shooting The Ramones. They would play two sets a night, four nights a week at CBGB's, and I’d be there for all of them. This shot is notable for Johnny playing a Strat, rather than his usual Mosrite. Maybe he’d just broken a string. Love that hair.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Richard Hell, Bowery 1977 – never before printed
    Richard exiting CBGB's with his guitar at 4am, about to step into a Bowery rainstorm. I’ve always printed the shots of him in the rain, but this one is a real standout to me now.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Patti Smith + Ronnie Spector, 1979
    May 24th – Bob Dylan Birthday show – Patti “invited” everyone at that night’s Palladium show on 14th Street down to CBGB's to celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday. Here, Patti and Ronnie are doing “Be My Baby.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Legs McNeil, 1977
    Legs, ready for his close-up, near the front door of CBGB's.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Suicide, 1977
    Rev and Alan Vega – I thought Alan was going to hit me with that chain. This was the Punk Magazine Benefit show.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ian Hunter and Fans, outside bathroom
    I always think of “All the Young Dudes” when I look at this shot. These fans had caught Ian Hunter in the CBGB's basement outside the bathrooms, and I just stepped in to record the moment.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Tommy Ramone, 1977
    Only at CBGB's could I have gotten this shot of Tommy Ramone seen through Johnny Ramones legs.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bowery 4am, 1977
    End of the night garbage run. Time to go home.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>