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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The D Word

I work for a living so I don't have time to get home by 6 p.m. to watch a televised debate. And that's without kids to worry about.

That likely makes me a typical consumer of news about last night's gubernatorial debate -- all I know is what I read in the newspapers. And on that basis, Kerry Healey has a problem.

The lt-gov appears to have a problem in accepting a responsibility -- something fairly typical of Republican candidates. In their view, it's always something or someone else. The Legislature. Immigrants. Islamofascists with weapons of mass destruction.

By this Globe account, Healey is already pulling out the big hammer and using the D word -- Dukakis -- to try and set the tone for this debate. That means she knows she's in Deep Doo-Doo.
"The thing that concerns me most is that if Deval Patrick wins this election we will go back to the Dukakis era when there is only one party represented on Beacon Hill . . . We [the Republicans] are tenuously holding down the corner office."
A brief history lesson for voters and others who weren't around when Michael Dukakis left office 16 years ago -- or when he ran for president 18 years ago. Not to mention when he beat Ed King in the vaunted "Rematch" 24 years ago.

Michael Dukakis was accused of abandoning Massachusetts and ignoring a fiscal crisis to pursue presidential ambitions. He ran a poor campaign and allowed George H.W. Bush to embarrass Massachusetts on the national stage. Sound familiar?

Kerry Healey's "partner" Mitt Romney has walked away from his job (something Dukakis never did) to pursue his presidential ambitions. Following in the Bush tradition, he is denigrating Massachusetts on a national stage. Only problem he is still ostensibly our "leader" for the next few months.

Healey is desperately trying to avoid running on the Romney record, such as it is. That's why she is focusing on illegal immigrants, driver's licenses and cell phone parking lots at Logan. The Romney-Healey record is not pretty: deep cuts in spending for local aid and education -- forcing property taxes to rise and public safety to be cut.

Then there's the Big Dig, something Romney discovered only after a fatality caused by 16 years of Republican mismanagement -- and only because it gave him a tool to cut down a political foe, Matt Amorello.

Christy Mihos has no intention of letting Healy walk away from that one -- even if her role was to stand in the background in an orange safety vest when Romney dropped into the state to try to show the national press corps he was "engaged." Mihos, who was martyred by former Gov. Jane Swift when she fired him from the Mass. Turnpike Board, has made the project and his role the centerpiece of his quirky campaign.

And Big Dig politics clearly deserve to be at the center of this campaign. Along with plans for restoring public health, education, public safety and education while not sending property tax rates any higher. Or encouraging people to stay in the state by providing good jobs at good wages (I couldn't resist) or affordable housing.

So let's focus on that -- not on a governor who left office 16 years ago after finishing his third term. And who, it should be noted, was followed by a governor who walked out in the middle of a second term on a quixotic bid for a Mexican ambassadorship; another one who walked out in his first full term to be ambassador to Canada and another one who tuned out in the middle of his term to run for president.

Let's deal with the present, not what happened a political lifetime ago. That well is dry.

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