A modest job-creation bill advanced in the U.S. Senate on Monday as the chamber’s newest Republican bucked his party and sided with Democrats on a $15 billion package of tax cuts and highway spending.
Republican Scott Brown joined four other Republicans, 55 Democrats and two independents to overcome a procedural hurdle that sets up a final vote later this week.
Brown was widely hailed as a conservative hero after his surprise victory in Massachusetts last month gave Republicans enough seats to block most Democratic legislation.
His election prompted President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats to call for increased bipartisanship, and an earlier version of the bill was written with Republican input.
But key Republicans withdrew their support after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scaled it back.
Brown said the bill was not perfect but would help put people back to work.
“I hope my vote today is a strong step toward restoring bipartisanship in Washington,” he said in a statement.
I cannot claim that this is a full-blown “I told you so,” as I only privately voiced my concerns about the conservative bona fides of Scott Brown, too caught up in the Massachusetts victory to do otherwise. For a long time now, though, I’ve acknowledged the habit among those of us on the right to look for a leader to emerge. We want a new Ronald Reagan, and like teenage girls who get winked at by the new boy in school, we tend to develop an infatuation.
So, in the wake of Brown’s victory, when a smitten political right was ready to hand him the 2012 nomination, I couldn’t help but shake my head.
In truth, what I’ve seen from the GOP over the past year has been inspiring. And it’s been done without one person at the forefront. And when the time finally comes for someone to emerge at the front of the pack and for us to align behind him or her, we need to be sure that we’re looking at a track record of conservatism that is a little lengthier than one campaign season.
When it comes to finding the new face of the American right, we need to look at the Jim DeMints, the Mike Pences, the Haley Barbours and others who have proven over a long, long period of time that they always err on the side of limited government. We should also pay attention and be open to people like Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and others who either are newer to the scene and have shown a perspective rooted in conservative values from the start, or who have had a Come to Jesus moment and have for years and years advocated conservatism on its merits.
What we cannot afford to do is to fall into political lust with someone. I can’t write off Scott Brown because of this vote, but he never should have been written in as a failsafe conservative in the first place. Only track record can show that.