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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Friday, April 04, 2008

In Treatment with Deval Patrick

If Deval Patrick were a subject on HBO's popular In Treatment series, he would probably require the full program run itself. This is one complicated man.

The Globe's look at Patrick's book proposal reveals the same sharp distinctions we see daily from the state's perplexing governor -- a man who has passionate beliefs and strong communications skills and who, at the same time, is detached, aloof and sometimes completely out of touch with his own message.
By "following your star," he writes, "you feel a terrific new confidence, strength, and freedom. And with your own self-image intact, you grow that much more resilient, tolerant and compassionate towards others. Indeed, I have come to believe that the courage to offer friendship and caring to people who may misunderstand or even hate me has been the very thing that saves me from being consumed by rage."
Governor, forgive us, but what solar system is that star in?

There's very little doubt that Patrick's inspirational upbringing helped create a strong self-image and a resilience to what other think about him personally. Being accused of theft simply because the color of your skin will do that.

But where is the offer of friendship and caring to "people who may misunderstand or hate me," say for example, House Speaker Sal DiMasi? Slapping him around on the front page of the New York Times doesn't seem friendly or caring.

Patrick is correct about the entrenched culture of Beacon Hill -- but not in his apparent underlying psychoanalysis.
"Innovation is sometimes met not just with indifference, but with active resistance," he writes. "Nowhere is that more true than in the Massachusetts State House, where a deeply entrenched political establishment is almost contemptuous of change. They count on the politics of inertia or just enough incremental change to give people the false impression that something is happening."
Patrick's "intact self-image" has blinded him to one of the realities of politics -- compromise. The concept has become a lost art, particularly in Washington, where it's better to score ideological points rather than victories.

But compromise is not a dirty word in politics. It's how things get done. That's a fact that Patrick seems to forget at the same time he also forgets that while he indeed won more votes than DiMasi, it's not just about the two of them -- or Senate President Terry Murray. It's also about the millions of people who voted for them and their 198 colleagues.

Chief of Staff Doug Rubin is a bit more willing to concede blunders than Patrick, as in this exchange with Scot Lehigh:

As I see it, the issue isn't about making the occasional mistake, it's about not making such stupid mistakes.

"OK, I agree with you," Rubin says. "But since the first few months, this is the only one you can point to that is in that category, as you categorize it."

But Rubin doesn't acknowledge, at least in this writing, that the time for stupid mistakes ended a long time ago.

It's hard for me to totally throw the towel in on Patrick -- he has a lot to offer and despite stupid mistakes like the secret book trip, he has spent far more time and attention on Massachusetts than Myth Romney. His sincerity can't be questioned. Only his methods.

And it should come as no surprise that once again Adrian Walker got it wrong. Deval Patrick is not the second coming of Bill Weld. That's because he doesn't display, at least to the public, what can be described as a delightfully goofy side that doesn't take himself too seriously. Deval Patrick will not be jumping, fully clothed, into the Charles River.

No Patrick, sadly, resembles the 1975-1979 version of Michael Dukakis, an intelligent, deeply caring man with strong self-esteem and a strong sense that his was the only right way. That Dukakis battled with Senate President Kevin Harrington and wound up being dumped by his own party. He learned from that searing experience and became a truly productive governor.

Lehigh is correct that Republican Charlie Baker should be licking his chops about a 2010 gubernatorial bid.

But Baker may never get he chance, because, like Dukakis, Patrick could well be facing a primary challenge that will leave him ample free time for a national book tour.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep an eye on Treasurer Tim as the one who would take on Deval Patrick in a primary fight. He is being groomed by Jack Connors already. Note his strategic insertions into issues that are designed to show him as thoughtful and proactive. And he has run statewide and won already. And by then, it will not be considered disloyal to run against this incumbent. (For one thing, the race issue will have been neutralized by then.)

April 05, 2008 6:43 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Exactly where my eyes are focusing. The other possibility is whichever Democrat is left without a seat when the congressional redistricting music stops.

April 05, 2008 7:21 AM  

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