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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Sunday, February 05, 2006

It's not about ideology, it's about competence

Just back from my undisclosed location and I can see I missed a goodie. My initial thought: well, at least you know that Tom Reilly doesn't go snooping around private tax records.

The monumental incompetence in the selection of Marie St. Fleur as a running mate is another large ding in the Reilly aura of invincibility. The Democratic caucus voters (a much more liberal group than the party or the state as whole) would likely have treated Deval Patrick kindly anyway. The size of Patrick's caucus victory -- including Reilly's new hometown of Watertown -- is painful but not fatal to Reilly.

Much more damaging to the attorney general is this is the second ding in six weeks -- the other involving the back and forth over his role into the investigation of the traffic deaths of two daughters of a supporter. Instead of an isolated incident, there are two very large mistakes to ponder.

Reilly's claim that politics is "not my strong suit" is disingenuous at best. He's been in elected office since 1990 and victorious statewide twice, a better record than any other Massachusetts Democrat. You also cannot stand there and say with a straight face that politics did not enter into the picture when you bypass a rich white male for a Haitian-American woman.

And the lapse in basic reference checking is more glaring in the light of the attorney general's outfront role in leading his office's justifiable investigation into the campaign spending practices of another (on the surface) impressive African-American woman, Dianne Wilkerson.

So Reilly was offering up a rather large red herring when he says people don't care about politics. That's true, but this isn't about politics, it's about competence; about listening; about doing basic homework before making a decision.

It's significant that Kerry Healey, who shows a tendency to shoot herself in the foot with her mouth, kept her powder dry on this one. For starters, she's not exactly clean on the financial front. But the lieutenant governor can now put some distance between her and this issue thanks to the Reilly misstep and Patrick's own tax problems.

And let's also not to forget to nominate Boston Mayor Tom Menino for a Profile in Courage Award. Standing by Reilly's side when St. Fleur is announced, taking credit for a role in the decision and then backing away big time when the you know what hit's the fan.


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