Scott Brown, battling pneumonia, took to the Senate floor on Monday night and delivered a speech that largely defies description. Reflecting on the historic nature of his short tenure in Washington and his role in landmark legislation, Brown returned repeatedly during the 24-minute talk to the subject of his illness.
"I'll do my best to muscle through it," the Massachusetts Republican said. "I'm battling... If I faint, Mr. President, will you save me?"
Brown's performance calls to mind the 1997 NBA Finals performance of Michael Jordan, a game that has since been dubbed "the flu game."
"It's all about desire," Jordan said after the game. "You've just got to come out here and do what you've got to do. You've just got to want it real bad. And for me as a leader, I had to come out and do my best, and I somehow found the energy to stay strong."
Brown, meanwhile, said he drew his strength from the sense of history enveloping his nascent career. "Being here in this historic chamber, are you kidding me?" he said. "I am blessed. I am so honored to be here. You can't even imagine my life."
Repeating a campaign theme, Brown took pride in blocking taxing and spending bills. "I'm the 41st senator. I am," he said. "Other times when it comes to getting this country moving in the right direction, I'm going to be the 60th senator and I don't care if I get reelected."
He was proud of his role in Wall Street reform, he said, despite criticism he took from the GOP for working with Democrats. "I'm part of history," he said, adding that at times he was "sleeping five hours a day maybe -- slept in my office."
Washington, said Brown, is a perplexing place. "Am I on a different planet or something?" he wondered. "Ever since we got back in July, it's like we don't talk anymore."
"What's the point? Why even bother getting out of bed?" he wondered. "Why do you get out of bed to turn on the lights? Are you kidding me?"
In the 13 years since Jordan's flu game, a revisionist history has questioned how sick Jordan was. "It was a great game for him and a great game to watch, but if you ask me, it was a little bit more hype than anything. Was it really the flu bug? We'll never know," Jamal Mashburn said in an interview this week.
The depth of Brown's illness may come under question by historians, as well, but Brown returned to the floor on Wednesday to remind those listening that he was indeed ill.
Watch Brown's and Jordan's feats side by side:
Video produced by Ben Craw
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