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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, January 26, 2009

Denial is a river

The response to House Speaker Sal DiMasi's announced resignation has created a lot of hand wringing in the liberal community about how this accomplished leader was done in by the casino gambling forces.

What that hand wringing -- which begins with DiMasi himself -- misses is the simple fact that the North End Democrat planted to seeds of his own destruction.

It doesn't really matter who pulled the trigger. DiMasi provided the bullets. His dealings with Richard Vitale, which may have blurred the line between business and friendship, brought DiMasi down. Period.

What is the difference -- except in degree -- between the casual attitude of DiMasi and that of former Sen. Dianne Wilkerson or Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner? DiMasi has not been accused of taking cash, hasn't been charged with anything and may never be. But there is certainly the appearance of a different set of rules for him and the average person who needs a mortgage or wants to do some charitable work.

The liberal lament is that we are losing a progressive leader who fought for issues that are important to us. That's true -- and the prospect of either Robert DeLeo or John Rogers leading the House is not thrilling.

But unlike my fellow liberals I can't simply overlook the ugly stuff, saying the ends justify the means. If we claim to want clean, honest government that works for the benefit of all people and not just special interests, we cannot.

DiMasi stood up to one special interest. But go back through campaign finance records through the years and I am quite sure you will find others that he did not rebuff.

As I said before, on substance DiMasi accomplished a great deal. But the careless (and traditional) way he conducted political business is what brought him down.

And for anyone worried about whether the casino industry will now ride roughshod, I simply remind you that Dan Bosley isn't going anywhere.

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Blogger Dan Kennedy said...

Mr. O.L.: I suggest you go back and read my post. I didn't endorse DiMasi's view that the casino forces did him in; I did, however, point to objective evidence that said forces are dancing in the streets.

Nor am I "overlook[ing] the ugly stuff, saying the ends justify the means." I specifically give the Globe credit for a job well done, and write that prosecutors can hardly be expected to overlook evidence of criminal activity.

That said, it's pretty clear that (1) we are going to miss him and (2) the ethical questions will resume the minute that either DeLeo or Rodgers is sworn in as speaker.

January 26, 2009 8:10 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

In fairness, I don't believe you were as willing to overlook the ugly stuff as others have been. But wistful?

I firmly believe DiMasi was ultimately the victim of his own actions. That takes a big chunk out of his otherwise positive legacy.

January 26, 2009 7:15 PM  
Blogger Dan Kennedy said...

I couldn't care less about his legacy. I'm more concerned about us.

January 27, 2009 10:02 AM  

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