Letter: Beyond sound bites

She looks like the teacher who gave you a detention for throwing spitballs. She sounds like your sister pleading to go out after being grounded. Her accent combines the Midwest with Professorial Brahman. Most likely, she won’t be at your Patriots tailgate party.

He is the Everyman candidate, the down to earth guy who reminds you of your fraternity brothers in college. He would be a regular at a Patriots tailgate.

Based on these contrasts, how can an undecided voter like me not favor Scott Brown over Elizabeth Warren in the Senate race?

Not so fast ...

Personality and congeniality matter in electoral politics — but not as the predominant factor in selecting a candidate. The Senate election has regressed into a personality contest and a gotcha game where each candidate, aided by the media, seeks to redefine their opponent based on a remote detail from their past.

I don’t care whether Warren is part Cherokee, Mohican or Iroquois. I sympathize with Brown’s difficult and troubled childhood, but don’t measure his Senatorial value based on those experiences. Although Warren worked as an attorney for Travelers, her Senate qualifications can’t be judged based on one case where some victims benefited and others didn’t — a frequent result in broad-based insurance litigation.

These factors should be secondary, not primary considerations for voters. The candidates’ voting records, established priorities, specific proposals, independence and effectiveness as an advocate are what matters. Scott Brown has been bipartisan at times, yet refuses to explain his lack of support for a modest tax increase for the highest income earners to help balance the budget and alleviate some of the economic woes of the middle class. Elizabeth Warren seeks to aid middle-class families but has not been specific enough about how the additional revenues should be used to help them. She also needs to identify specific governmental expenditures that could be eliminated. The answers to these questions matter more than whether Elizabeth Warren is a descendant of Pocahontas or Scott Brown is a modern day John Havlicek.

We expect to hear these details from the candidates and the media. More than their lineage or everyman qualities, these criteria will help me and the rest of the undecided electorate to determine which of the two to support as a United States senator.



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