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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, June 21, 2007

Hell hath no fury...

I think there's an important element in today's lead story in the Globe, excoriating Deval Patrick for holding a legal fund-raiser, that was downplayed in the effort to promote a sexy quote.

The two business executives who helped pony up $25,000 are two of the principal civic leaders who are lining up against Patrick's proposed corporate tax loophole closing proposal, a fact noted in the 12th paragraph, right after a comment about how Patrick is building ties to the business community -- and right before one about how Liberty Mutual Group CEO Edmund Kelley was a big donor to Kerry Healey.

But none of that could compare to the Quote Hall of Famer offered by Tufts political science professor Jeffrey Berry:
"It looks like he's been housebroken," Berry said. "Words are cheap, and his rhetoric now appears to have been empty slogans. His supporters are going to be a little disappointed. But it is rare for politicians to follow through on changing politics as usual. Politics as usual has a lot of attraction once you are in office. Governor Patrick is not immune from the temptation."
Words are indeed cheap, and there is nothing in Berry's comments to suggest he knows that it truly is business as usual on Beacon Hill under Patrick. His ill-advised telephone call to Ameriquest was far more egregious on the symbolic scale, and yet the Ethics Commission found him free of conflict there.

I'm a believer in seeing some sort of proof, if not a smoking gun, before I draw conclusions. Patrick is guilty of no more than business as usual -- which admittedly always has a slightly seamy context on Beacon Hill.

But I would like to see a quid pro quo, some proof that he was bought for $25,000, before a story like this appears in such a prominent place in the paper.

The Globe has become much more aggressive in covering the Corner Office since it got a permanent resident to replace the vagabond who spent four, er, two years there. That's good -- even though I can't help but feel that it took a challenge from Patrick to engage them.

And some of those stories, such as the insinuations against an industrial accident board judge nominee, didn't have any legs to stand on past the dime drop.

I'm also pragmatic enough to remember back to the first Dukakis administration -- and what happened to St. Michael after he refused to work with the Legislature and the business community.

So far, I see a war of words between Patrick and those players -- a war over the importance of tax fairness. When and if Patrick backs off the proposal -- with nothing in return -- I will consider the possibility he was bought for $25,000.

Until then, I think the Globe should consider a major pitfall of the media business -- failing victim to the siren song of the "perfect quote." Or has Jeffrey Berry housebroken them?

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Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

In Hollywood, action movie scripts are run past talented writers to add loop lines, the witticisms for the hero after he smacks a villain.

This Berry guy is clearly on the Globe's speed dial because he's always ready with a cliche to fit their narrative script.

June 21, 2007 7:15 AM  

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