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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Monday, September 03, 2007

New look, same old Herald

The new-look BostonHerald.com debuted yesterday to positive reviews. But the new wrapper contains the same old class-baiting claptrap that has made the Herald an increasingly irrelevant voice.

A case in point is Michele McPhee blast of Deval Patrick for failing to cut short his vacation to visit the West Roxbury firehouse that had been the work home of the two Boston firefighters who died last week.

Patrick - who has not been seen at work in a month after he took off for a three-week vacation that he extended by a week - did not show up at the scene of the fatal Centre Street blaze, either. Even though, it seems, an obscene state law that does not require fire code inspections for small restaurants could have been one of the factors in the fatal fire.

Leaving aside the fact that the state law was enacted well before Patrick took office, the class-baiting blast (what "real" working person gets a four-week vacation?) was typical of the stretches the Herald must take to get notice.

McPhee righteously observes that Tom Menino -- who as mayor is nominally the firefighters' boss -- showed up in sharp contrast to the Patrick. But let's suppose that Patrick did cut short his vacation. What would have the reaction been?

The Globe's Joan Vennochi offers a hint when she takes a swipe at Patrick for acknowledging a bullet shattering a Statehouse window.
Over that sweltering weekend, the Boston Police Department blog reported seven other nonfatal shootings and 13 nonfatal stabbings. But it was the shattered glass that stirred the vacationing Governor Deval Patrick to anger.
Had Patrick cut short his vacation to run into Boston and visit the Statehouse or the firehouse -- no doubt to be witnessed by the TV cameras set up outside -- McPhee (and probably Vennochi) would have labeled him a shameless grandstander (much like John Kerry, who has also not paid a visit).

As McPhee notes, Patrick has offered words of condolences -- both publicly and in private phone calls with the families of the fallen firefighters. He will attend the funeral services.

But in its quest to stir class resentment, the Herald has opted to turn that gesture of private compassion into a political issue. And judging by the comments section, it was a well-chosen strategy.

Just as George Bush was roundly and roundly criticized for cutting short his vacation to rush back to Washington to score political points with Terry Schiavo, Patrick would have been rightly condemned for trying to make hay of this tragedy -- one that probably has more to do with lax city inspection than any state laws.

Patrick's first nine months in office have certainly not set any records for accomplishment -- but much of that is out of his direct control. Personally I prefer this tempered approach to Mitt Romney's donning of hard hat and safety vest after the Big Dig ceiling collapse to make sure he had campaign pictures.

Maybe that's why I don't buy the Herald any more.

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Anonymous Rick in Duxbury said...

Or maybe you get your fill of "class baiting" in the Globe.

September 04, 2007 9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one accused Sen Ted Kennedy of granstanding when he came out of his vacation and visited the fire station days after the blaze. Both Senator Kerry and Governor Patrick chose to visit the station on the day they were "required" to be in Boston anyway for the AFL-CIO breakfast.

Some politicians have tact, some just don't.

September 06, 2007 1:21 PM  

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