Warren the rookie

Like a rookie stepping up to the plate for the first time in the big leagues, Elizabeth Warren looked cautious and tentative in her first meeting with the State House press corps as the senator-elect from Massachusetts. She met with Gov. Deval Patrick for an hour at the State House and then the two of them came out to meet reporters. The questions were coming at batting practice speed, but Warren kept whiffing.

How would she protect Massachusetts defense industries from spending cuts? She tried to hand that question off to Patrick, who finally had to say, “Defense spending is you.”

What does she think of the high voter turnout by women and the victories by women in New Hampshire? “I’m glad,” she responded.

What committee would she like to be on? “I will continue to talk with the leader about it,” she answered in robotic fashion.

The Herald called her performance “awkward.” The Lowell Sun described Warren as subdued. CommonWealth dubbed her monosyllabic. The Globe said, “it was a bit of a rough start,” eliciting from Warren the explanation that she needed to be more discreet now that she is making the transition from candidate to senator-elect. “Can I say that?” she asked an aide. “Maybe it’s indiscreet to talk about indiscretion.”

Other news outlets chose to ignore her strange behavior and focus instead on the crumbs of commentary she provided. WBUR, for example, focused on Warren’s desire to hire a diverse staff of smart and thoughtful people. Jon Keller of WBZ-TV focused on her response to a question about protecting defense businesses from spending cuts. And the Springfield Republican concentrated on the rising number of women in the US Senate, the one issue that Warren exhibited some passion about.

Her performance received the patented Brian McGrory Treatment, in which a public official gets a good scolding but we’re told that he or she “is better than this.” McGrory may be right. After all, it was just her first at-bat. There’s a long season ahead.

                                                                        –BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

Investigators raided five Brockton convenience stores and arrested eight clerks and owners on EBT card abuse and fraud charges.

US Attorney General Eric Holder hints that he’s looking for the exit door, renewing speculation about Gov. Deval Patrick’s future.

A Sentinel & Enterprise editorial urges lawmakers to relocate the State House from Beacon Hill to Devens.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Department of Conservation and Recreation has awarded two grants to the city of Fall River for officials to dredge the area around the State Pier and to preserve the city’s trees.

Pressure mounts on the hospitalized Boston Mayor Tom Menino to get in, or out, of next year’s mayor’s race.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Fears about the looming fiscal cliff are prompting cutbacks in business spending, the Globe reports. Paul Krugman argues against making a grand budget bargain.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page praises same-sex marriage votes in Maine, Maryland, and Washington, saying the “contentious issue is working its way through the political system and being resolved in a manner that both sides can accept as legitimate.”

House Speaker John Boehner says he is confident he can reach a deal on immigration with the White House. The Journal provides an on-the-ground look at Hispanic immigration in the Midwest, saying an influx of immigrant workers has stabilized fading towns and helped fuel a rebound in manufacturing.

ELECTION 2012

WBUR asks “what’s next” for Scott Brown. Republican political consultant and WBUR analyst Todd Domke analyzes what went wrong for Brown’s campaign.

The Salem News, in an editorial, dismisses talk that Libertarian Daniel Fishman was a spoiler in the race between US Rep. John Tierney and Republican Richard Tisei for Congress. “Fishman was anything but a fringe candidate,” the paper writes. “His thoughtful, articulate and often witty answers were a welcome reprieve from the nasty back-and-forth between Tierney and Tisei.”

US News & World Report introduces the record-breaking 20 women US senators.

The National Review gathers its pundits for a symposium on lessons learned from the election and one thing is certain: Most of them aren’t over it and won’t be any time soon. The American Spectator outlines the impending consequences of the next four years and sees a never-ending list of regulations for things that don’t need regulating. Time’s Michael Grunwald says the GOP is likely to double down on its losing strategy. Florida still hasn’t named a presidential winner. Democrats saw their standing with Jewish voters slip, but they’re picking up support from Cuban Americans. Lost in all the gnashing of teeth over Mitt Romney’s underwhelming performance: Republican Senate candidates underperformed the presidential nominee in 11 states. Nate Silver argues that, unless the GOP shifts to the left, the Electoral College is stacked against it.

Voters in more than 30 states committed crimes by snapping pictures of their ballots and posting the pictures to social networks, Governing reports.  

Two candidates for the Walton City Council in Kentucky finished in a dead heat, but Bobby McDonald is kicking himself because his wife didn’t make it to the polls, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

Some food for thought for Sen. Marco Rubio, a 2016 GOP presidential contender: Cubans who were born in the US supported Obama overwhelmingly; people born in Cuba went for Mitt Romney.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Priceline is buying New England-based travel services website Kayak for $1.8 billion.

Ameridose, the Westborough-based sister company of scandal-plagued New England Compounding Center, is laying off 650 of its employees and expects 200 of those positions to be eliminated permanently.

RELIGION

The New Bedford police chief and mayor defended the decision to have plainclothes police officers at the final Mass at St. John the Baptist Church last Sunday to deal with any problems that might have arisen from parishioners angry and upset at the parish’s closing.

EDUCATION

The superintendent of the Brockton schools will leave his post at the end of the school year after reaching an agreement with the School Committee to end his five-year contract one year before it expires.

HEALTH

A Quincy city councilor is introducing an ordinance that would restrict where medical marijuana dispensaries can open in the city and other communities are eyeing similar measures after voters overwhelmingly approved the ballot question allowing legal pot.

TRANSPORTATION

Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey told attendees at a public hearing they need to “rise up” and let legislators know what they need to do to keep the T running.

Keller@Large, the official Massachusetts State Scold, said yesterday’s dusting of snow is as good a time as any to remind lazy drivers to brush the stuff off their cars so they’re not a driving danger to themselves or, more importantly, to Jon Keller.

Iowa Pacific buys Cape Rail, the parent company that runs two rail lines that handle freight transportation and sightseeing trips; The Cape Cod Times hopes the purchase will keep the two systems viable.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The US Environmental Protection Agency is expected to give final approval very soon for the development of South Terminal in New Bedford to allow the port to handle the large offshore wind turbine equipment that will make the city a hub in the green energy industry.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Cahill Trial: A former Massachusetts Lottery marketing director testifies that she was surprised by the agency’s shift in promotional strategy in 2010.

MEDIA

The bad news keeps coming for New England newspapers, writes Dan Kennedy, as the Providence Journal and Lawrence Eagle Tribune announce layoffs. The Eagle-Tribune reports it is cutting 12 positions while another nine are spread across the rest of the north of Boston Media Group, which includes the Gloucester Times, the Andover Townsman, and the Daily News of Newburyport. The Salem News, another member of the group, was spared any cuts.

Newspapers and the Republican Party have the same base — white, older, and male — and the same problem,  reports Ken Doctor for the Nieman Journalism Lab.