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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, March 23, 2009

Pension play

There's a line in golf that you "drive for show and putt for dough." With a little tinkering, that line can be applied to Deval Patrick's decision to hold a media briefing yesterday to talk about the pension reform proposals he leaked to the Globe a day earlier.

The briefing -- attended by weekend TV reporters and a handful of print and radio reporters playing out of position -- was clearly designed as a "drive for show" moment. The governor and his team, in Sunday casual, sitting around the Corner Office hard at work at a problem.

The message was less about the substance of the proposals that he intends to formally file next month and more about trying to recover his footing after dissing voters with the statement that patronage appointments and no-work jobs are "trivial."

The Globe -- which of course led the Sunday paper with the proposals in a story written by Statehouse reporter Andrea Estes -- didn't fall for the underlying message. The story by John Drake ran in Metro.

The Herald, left out of the leak fest, didn't take the bait at all. Search the web site for "Deval Patrick" or "pension reform" and you are treated to snark from Howie or the enterprising reporter.

No matter -- no dough in the line here. The weekend TV folks cover car crashes and fires. Depth on a subject is not their strong suit and that's probably why the decision was made to offer a weekend availability -- away from the tougher questions that would come from reporters deeply immersed in the subject.

That's not to say what Patrick is offering is trivial either. There are some tough proposals sure to set the public employee unions boiling and save some money down the road.

They also fit the Senate President's call for reform before revenue. And they show a TV audience not paying attention to March Madness that the governor can roll up his sleeves any day of the week.

That may have been the most important message he was offering on Sunday.

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