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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, March 20, 2007

This changes everything

The Patrick pinata is about to come down (despite the Herald's best effort to take one word out of a Washington Post story and make it a furor.)

Why? Because the long and public Travaglini job search has apparently come to a close and major changes are coming to the Senate.

Check out some of the "controversial" quotes:

  • The governor was quoted as describing his troubles as “hazing” by the state’s political elite, although the article did not include a more complete explanation of the context in which he was speaking.
  • “What I’m not interested in, but I have to get more interested in, is government by photo-op.”
  • “The rest of it pales in relation to what’s going on at home.”
  • “When I ran, I said I would make some mistakes. “I didn’t run for saint. None of them are fatal."

  • One the Herald ignored: "We screwed up on spending."

    I'd call it honesty -- particularly the realization of the need for "government by photo-op." And the Herald is far too modest in thinking that the media does not hold membership of the state's political elite.

    But it's time to move along because we're about to have another political milestone: a woman Senate President.

    The significance of this change for Patrick is hard to minimize. Not only does it provide a new target for the Herald (Murray has a long record of accomplishment in the Senate and with that comes activities worthy of some scrutiny, particularly her most recent stint as Senate Ways and Means Committee chair), she brings a distinctly different attitude toward the new governor.

    Travaglini, you may recall, firmly planted his foot in his mouth in December when he used a breakfast speech to tell Patrick to play ball with the Legislature or face a rough road (I believe that would constitute hazing?). The Senate President was forced to backpedal immediately.

    Trav has spent the last year looking for a good job at good wages. He has also been the principal opponent of a full review of the budget (read that considering tax reform) and he earned the enmity of many by allowing the gay marriage ballot question to come to a vote.

    Murray is no flaming liberal but she has experience few in state government do (except maybe for Patrick). A single mother who received welfare, she is the principal author of the state's welfare law that sought to create compassion where the federal government did not.

    As keeper of the state's purse strings the last few years as Ways and Means chair, she knows how to say no. And as the person wielding the gavel in this year's Constitutional Convention, she probably sends chills up the spines of gay marriage foes.

    Travaglini has clearly had his attention elsewhere and the chance to make big bucks as a lobbyist eventually proved too much to resist. The business will come knocking fast and furious -- even if he is not allowed to lobby the Legislature for a year.

    A good and decent man who has had health issues and a family to put through college, the move is the right one for him -- and for the Commonwealth.

    With Murray's elevation, Massachusetts will have a more progressive leadership but also one that has a better understanding of what it is like to climb that ladder of success. And Patrick will have someone to target the target off his back.

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