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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Purity Supreme?

I keep foolishly thinking you can teach an old dogs new tricks. But after just two days of stories about the incoming Patrick administration, I realize I'm wrong.

The Herald's front page look at the Patrick committee's inaugural plans (complete with an insulting illustration of Deval Patrick in a party hat that has mysteriously disappeared from the web site) was the first example that political reporting will continue with a business as usual approach.

The Globe's look at how lobbyists and lawyers are "throwing open their doors" to the incoming governor says ideology does not play a role in this old-school approach.

The Herald has always championed class resentment; the Globe a level of purity that cannot be achieved by mere mortals.

If the price tag for the Patrick inaugural bashes result in events that are open and inclusive and bring in people beyond the lobbyists and lawyers they will reflect a start at opening the process up to the people. And the size of the Patrick grassroots -- large enough to generate stories about how the "establishment" may be nervous -- suggests that people may well just return to the political arena.

If it costs $1.6 million in privately raised funds to do it -- including dollars from lobbyists and lawyers -- then it is a good investment. The question with campaign cash is always what exactly does it buy.

One reason the Republicans are out of power in Congress is because it was clear the K Street Project bought an actual place at the table and keys to the word processors writing legislation. Let's keep the smoke alarms working but wait for actual wisps of smoke before we yell fire.

The same caution applies to the Globe look at the efforts whose business is government and politics to ingratiate themselves to the incoming team. Hosting receptions and offering space (in exchange for rental payments) is indeed about access. But access does not necessarily translate into action.

The best cautionary story was raised in the comparisons of Duke I and Duke II. The ideological pure, some said sanctimonious, Dukakis of the first term decreed friendship was worthless and that term ended in failure. A chastened Dukakis returned with a message of friendship in the context of honesty and he was rewarded.

Patrick should be judged by deed, not word. And the initial deed, selecting an administration and finance secretary with links to Bill Weld, Paul Cellucci and potential 2010 rival Charlie Baker suggests a different mindset.

So let's be vigilant to make sure deed match word. But the premise of the Patrick campaign was to change the toxic political environment -- at least in Massachusetts. The burden to accomplish that is immense. Let's not weigh it down with cynicism or old school reporting ways until we have to.

To quote that liberal icon Ronald Reagan -- trust but verify.


Blogger Ryan Adams said...

The Herald's picture was so outrageous, it was funny. LOL.

December 07, 2006 9:19 AM  

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