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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 24, 2008

Phoning it in

WHAT IS Joan Vennochi thinking?

Let me start by noting my respect for the Globe's op-ed columnist. She is a solid reporter and a must read columnist.

But even must-read columnists have off days and Vennochi certainly had one yesterday in finishing up her biweekly opus.

Vennochi seems to forget the basic rule of American government -- we have a series of checks and balances in which executives propose and legislatures dispose. Every now and then legislators propose things too and executives -- who can count votes -- go along.

The argument Vennochi posits in today's column is a sound one -- the sales tax holiday that has emerged from the inky bowels of a legislature rushing to get out the door for an election is a bad idea. The state is too short on cash to afford even $15 million.

Patrick acknowledged the problem with a slew of budget vetoes targeting earmarks for hometown projects -- vetoes you just know will be overridden before lawmakers dash out the door.

So Patrick can count. He can also count votes, as Vennochi notes:
This year, it passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives by a vote of 139-15 and in the Senate by 31-6.
Last I looked those were veto-proof margins.

So in effect, Vennochi is lambasting Patrick for not making a futile stand as a grand political gesture in the face of the Legislature's grand political gesture to sugar coat the loss of some local projects by giving voters a break on the purchase of a refrigerator.

If Patrick had been elected as Official Windmill Tilter of the Commonwealth, there would be merit in her suggestion. After all, by vetoing something sure to be overturned, Patrick would earn Brownie points with voters in the 2010 election.

So, by failing to follow the futile path, Vennochi reasons:
What's Patrick really thinking? Maybe that his friend Barack Obama is going to be president, that he will be going with him to Washington, and that the Massachusetts budget mess will be someone else's problem.
Whoa. That twist in logic leaves me positively dizzy.

There's a name for stories and columns that praise/criticize an individual for an action that requires group action, then uses the standard political rumor of the day as an explanation for said action.

It's called phoning it in. And it's not an exclusive failing of journalists. Heck, Manny does it all the time.

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Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

Amen, Outraged Liberal.

July 24, 2008 3:23 PM  

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