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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 11, 2008

That's why they play the game

It hasn't been Deval Patrick's month -- or has it?

The last 30 days have been tough on the governor, losing the casino gambling bill and skipping town for the vote to finalize what we later learned was a million-dollar book deal. Loyalists and others are questioning his commitment and competence, Treasurer Tim Cahill looks more and more like a primary challenger and a WBZ poll (you'll find it eventually) suggests he's at his lowest ebb as chief executive.

But politics, like sports, can change in an instant.

The Massachusetts House approved a $392 million tax package last night that focuses on cigarette smokers and corporations. The bill comes in closer to what Patrick wanted than the wishes of House Speaker Sal DiMasi, who held up debate for two days (including one Opening Day) in a vain effort to work his will on his members.

And speaking of those members -- even though they wound up voting overwhelmingly for the bill -- they did not look like the sheep characterized by the Boston Phoenix's David Bernstein in a well-reported and a long-overdue look at DiMasi's House.

And as if the Speaker didn't have enough problems with wandering sheep, there's the matter of his golf partners and business associates, an antsy majority leader and now, a Speaker Pro Tempore who is getting campaign contributions from places he shouldn't.

The winners and losers in the House tax debate were easy to spot. Here's Patrick Chief of Staff Doug Rubin:
"We appreciate the House's willingness to move closer to the governor's proposal. When you look at where we started in this process, and the House and the Senate and the governor, for us to see that enacted is a good example of everybody working together."
Mister Speaker didn't stop for a chat and his written statement didn't share the love:
"The members of the House have rolled up their sleeves, tackled difficult issues head-on, and provided common sense, fiscally responsible solutions to our budget challenges."
It's one small step for Deval. He is still in, as Bush 41 once so eloquently phrased it, "deep doo-doo" with the voters. His announcement this week that he plans to stick around and run for a second term was more defensive -- designed to avoid lame duck status -- than a sign of strength.

There are a lot of problems on the road to 2010 -- starting with crumbling bridges and sagging finances -- but the mood in the Corner Office is no doubt a lot sunnier than it has been anytime in the last month.

But wait until next week. And does anyone have a good shepherding dog?

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