By D.R. Tucker on 7/27/2012, 6:35am PT  

Guest editorial by D.R. Tucker

If you want to see pure madness in action, ask a Republican friend about Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, the creator of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, who will face US Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) in one of the most high-profile races of the year.

Chances are, your Fox "News"-watching friend will turn beet-red within a half-second, swearing and sputtering about her supposed socialism and attacking her as the mascot of the Occupy movement. There's just something about Warren that sends the right into 'roid rage. Is it something she said --- or just something she represents?...

Warrenphobia

The right's antipathy towards Warren has no logical basis. They've never presented any proof that Warren, a former Republican (!), is an "ultra-liberal." She's center-left at best policy-wise, closer to Clinton than Castro.

The right is still angry at Warren's famous "social contract" speech, but there's nothing in the speech that should set off any partisan alarms. All she says, in essence, is that capitalism is not perfect.

Of course, that's the problem. She believes capitalism is not perfect. To the rational mind, that's basic common sense. To the irrational mind, that's treason.

Today's Republican Party hates Warren because she embodies the worldview of those who believe capitalism needs regulations, safeguards, rules of engagement. This is a view that the right has tried to destroy for decades. If Warren wins, it will represent a psychological loss for the capitalism-is-infallible crowd.

Not for nothing does Brown suggest that Warren hates capitalism. Brown knows who his base is. Even the "bluest" state in the union, if that's what Massachusetts is, has its share of what author Naomi Oreskes once called "free-market fundamentalists," folks who think that the Community Reinvestment Act actually caused the 2008 financial meltdown --- even though the late free-marketeer Rep. Jack Kemp (R) said that was a lie.

Brown's backers are scared to death of a Warren win, which is why they have aggressively promoted the notion that Warren exploited affirmative action to advance her Harvard Law School career. Their hypocrisy is hilarious. The same folks who turned a blind eye to the blatantly race-based promotion of such GOP figures as Michael Steele and Herman Cain are now claiming that Warren didn't rise to the top based on merit. Really.

Right-wing Warrenphobia has also motivated a new effort to label her an academic crook. These attacks --- and Brown's constant references to his Democratic opponent as "Professor Warren" --- suggest that Brown has lost faith in his ability to beat Warren on policy grounds. He's probably right.

Acknowledging reality

Warren and Brown both signed a so-called "People's Pledge" intended to discourage third-party negative ads in their race. Warren obviously agreed to this pledge to keep over-the-top attack ads from American Crossroads and Americans for Prosperity off the Bay State airwaves. However, Brown had an equally transparent motivation.

Last year, after his bizarre decision to vote for an amendment to strip the EPA of its Supreme Court-recognized authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the League of Women Voters ran a series of tough ads pointing to the link between greenhouse gases and increasing rates of ozone pollution, which worsens asthma. Brown, who in 2010 refused to countenance the idea of pricing carbon to reduce emissions, threw a fit over the ads as environmentalists noted that Brown's protests were simply not based on science.

The ad campaign clearly wounded Brown, since it reminded Bay Staters of Brown's reversals on environmental and climate issues from his days as a state legislator and made those viewers wonder: what if Brown's daughters had asthma? (It also didn't help his cause that the ads aired just weeks after Brown's political panhandling in front of corporate libertarian and climate-change denier David Koch.)

I supported Brown in his 2010 fight against Martha Coakley to fill the late Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. At the time, I hoped that Brown would lead a revival of Northeastern centrist Republicanism, the sort that valued logic, reason, facts and non-partisanship. That dream has been deferred for life: while Brown is not as repulsive as the James Inhofe/Jim DeMint crowd, he has failed to fully distance himself from them.

While Warren hasn't said much yet about the threat of climate change, I agree 100 percent with Bill McKibben's observation that Warren will likely be a better ally for climate activists --- and anyone who doesn't worship ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as a deity --- than Brown. Reducing the risk of catastrophic climate change is the ultimate form of consumer protection, and it will be nice to see "Professor" Warren instructing the ignorant that climate change is not a hoax.

I'm confident that Warren will win --- but not overconfident. In addition to wooing every free-market fundamentalist he can find in the Bay State, Brown is also pandering to older right-wing Democrats. Late last year, Brown released a commercial in advance of the anticipated run against Warren. It showed him chatting up several culturally conservative Democrats, including the anti-abortion, anti-same-sex-marriage former mayor of Boston, Raymond Flynn. The subtext of the commercial: "Vote for me, not that moonbat elitist!"

I'm disappointed by Brown, but I don't hate him. His message was more compelling the last time around. Warren's message is more compelling now. The terms and conditions of the American social contract have indeed been violated. One candidate doesn't acknowledge that reality. The other does.

* * *

D.R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer. He has been a contributor to the Huffington Post, the Boston Herald, Human Events Online, FrumForum.com, the Ripon Forum, Truth-Out.org, TheNextRight.com, and BookerRising.com. In addition, he also hosted a Blog Talk Radio program, The Notes, from August 2009 to June, 2010. You can follow him on Twitter here: @DRTucker.