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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The life of Reilly

Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly's strongest attribute to be the next Democratic governor of Massachusetts was that he wasn't one of the boys. Tom Reilly is squeaky clean, a prosecutor's prosecutor, pure as the driven snow.

Reilly now looks more like a snow pile that's hung around for a month. Dark, crusty and unappetizing. And he only has himself to blame for ignoring or forgetting a couple of basic rules of politics.

After about a week of manufactured "debate" -- manufactured by GOP hopeful Kerry Healey's overblown rhetoric -- Reilly slipped on an ice slick of his own making, After insisting politics did not play a role in his intervention into the probe of the alcohol-related deaths of the daughters of a campaign contributor, Reilly was forced to admit, in effect, never mind.

First off, the rhetoric of Healey and the otherwise disappearing governor is ludicrously overblown. Healey claimed Reilly ''managed to stifle and probably obstruct a criminal investigation" into whether the state's ''social host" law was broken. Romney suggested that Reilly was trying to ''hush up" the investigation.

Memo to Kerry: people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. And Mitt, this issue won't play in Peoria. Or Manchester. Certainly not South Carolina.

But Reilly's reputation as a dull and boring straight arrow is in tatters today. He now admits to talking about the case with a contributor after first denying it. He's pitting his word against a chief of police, a dicey thing for any politician to do, no matter what the truth is.

And first and foremost, he has given the GOP just the ammunition for TV spots that say Tommy is just one of the boys, a member of the gang on Beacon Hill.

Frankly, I don't think he did anything wrong in this case, from a legal perspective. But the political mistakes are major and the damage is now significant. And it's all the more shocking coming from a campaign that understands that you need to get out in front of the bad news.

The fact Tom Reilly was busted as a young adult was no big deal. He was more honest than certain elected officials who passed off drinking (and driving) as simply "when I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible."

Because Reilly and his campaign failed to go full disclosure when this initially hit, they have turned a tempest in a teapot into a winter storm, the severity of which is not yet fully clear,


Blogger Worcester Justice Calling said...

Reilly and Conte could have saved themselves with just four words: "We made a mistake." They went the other way and now Reilly is history and Conte looks very vulnerable.

January 12, 2006 1:10 PM  

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