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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, July 19, 2007

Peace in our time?

So Deval Patrick, Sal DiMasi and Terry Murray have kissed and made up. Or have they?

Reading today's lead story in the Globe, you might think war is breaking out yet again over the Patrick administration's decision to give a $10 million economic development grant to Boston's Columbus Center project. A letter from DiMasi and others asserts:
We intended for the money to underwrite targeted investments by companies and governmental agencies to help the state's economy expand. We did not set the money aside to help a private developer build million- dollar condos."
Jump to the Metro section though and it's all sweetness and light.

Patrick's relationship with DiMasi remains somewhat volatile, but they have developed a better relationship as they have gotten to know one another.

Despite the occasional flare-up, both leaders have made an effort. They have gone out to dinner twice together -- once alone, and once with their wives -- and they have grown familiar enough to speak directly when an issue arises.

Well duh.

Coverage of government is very different than the coverage of politics, as arcane a thought as that may be. There are clear winners and losers in an election. There are a variety of positions and winners in governing. One of the most classic clashes is between the legislative and executive branches.

Clearly there is a new dynamic in place with a Democratic governor in place after 16 years of Republicans in the Corner Office (well, maybe 14 or 15 unless you count absentee tenants).

A Legislature, used to having its way because of the overwhelming lack of Republicans who serve there isn't keen about giving up that power. A governor elected by people in all 351 cities and towns believes he has a mandate that is broader than that of 200 separately elected people.

Perhaps it was personal with the frequently absent Romney. And there is very little doubt Patrick has been slow off the mark. But it is about the natural tension built into the system by checks and balances.

These constant melodramatic stories overstate the reality. It's not personal, it's not necessarily even politics (neither DiMasi or Murray harbor statewide intentions). It's about governing.

Otto von Bismarck had it right. You can disagree without being disagreeable, but reporters (myself included for the longest time) who would rather focus on the nastiness of politics than the frequently boring but ultimately more important art of governing.

And that's why you get seeming contradictions like this.

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