"Who is Scott Brown?" asked MSNBC's Mark Murray after the Republican senator's surprise vote for a Democratic jobs bill. That's also the question driving a long New York Times Magazine profile on the man who was quickly hailed by conservatives as a presidential contender. Brown's bipartisan vote has only complicated that question. Will Brown be the next Olympia Snowe, a potential ally for Democrats?

  • Dems Can Work With This Man, suggested New York Magazine's John Heilemann even before the vote, recounting his talk with a senior Obama official. "For all the tea-party atmospherics around the Massachusetts race, there are plenty of indications that Brown is hardly a right-wing loony, and even some signs that he might be--wait for it--an honest-to-goodness northeastern moderate right out of the old school." In fact, "by all rights, Brown should be the ripest of targets for bi-partisan appeals in the Senate ... likely to displace Maine's Olympia Snowe as the most liberal Republican in the upper chamber."
  • Don't Get Your Hopes Up, John Gandelman tells liberals at The Moderate Voice. Though he thinks the vote was predictable (the Massachusetts electorate hasn't "changed overnight"), he argues that 'Democrats are deluding themselves if they feel that he will be the new Olympia Snowe." What he could be, instead, is a political figure who will undergo various incarnations....just like a former Massachusetts Governor...named Mitt Romney."
  • What If Brown Is Sincere? wonders liberal writer John Nichols at The Nation.
The Republican from Massachusetts certainly won't be voting with the Democrats on every bill. But if Brown keeps giving the majority party needed votes on jobs bills, he has an opportunity to make himself more than just a number: be it "41" [an extra vote for Republicans to break the filibuster] or "61" [if he joins Democrats] He might actually be something rare in the Republican caucus: a senator who cares more about out of work Americans than maintaining the "party of 'no'" facade.
  • 'Calculated' That's National Review's Lisa Schiffren's word for the vote. This was politics, pure and simple. Massachusetts is still blue, but, more than that, Brown doesn't want to be "labeled a pure obstructionist," she argues.
  • Calculated, in Particular, for 2012 That's the next year in which he will "face voters," writes the Guardian's Michael Tomasky, and it's a "presidential election year (ie much higher turnout than the special election he won)." So? "There's little question that, barring some weird cataclysm, Obama's going to win at least 56% or 57% of the vote" in Massachusetts.
  • Depends on His Goals  Mark Murray at MSNBC explains: "If he wants to be re-elected in blue Massachusetts, you're going to see him vote like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. If he has other ambitions, however, you'll see him vote the other way."