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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, November 13, 2009

Oops, I did it again

The Democratic US Senate candidates have offered a veritable feast in the last few days for political watchers who love to watch candidates screw up.

We'll skip right over Alan Khazei reaching for the endorsement of Mike Bloomberg -- and all that's represented by having a former Medford resident and Yankee fan sign on. Besides, the way Bloomberg spent a ton of his cash to barely squeak out a win you would think he'd be more sympatico with Steve Pagliuca.

And we can only scratch our head over Martha Coakley's failing to remember she and her husband have some modest savings -- and not the big zilch she reported on her ethics disclosure form. What about the state pension?

And of course the Coakley-Mike Capuano dust-up on abortion and support for the health care is almost old news these days.

Nope, the leader in the gaffe parade today is none other than Pags, who was for a military draft before he was against it -- in the space of a few hours. Nor did Money Pags really do himself a favor by criticizing earmarks when the seniority of the Massachusetts delegation helps bring home federal dollars to try to stem the net outflow of cash from Massachusetts.

Let's move back to the draft. The number of tweets cracking wise about Pagliuca really meant shows just how deep a hole he dug for himself.

Pagliuca's mistake mirrors the Coakley-Capuano gaffe-athon. The bottom line is a military draft is one of the strongest anti-war messages around. Iraq and Afghanistan have dragged on forever because the men and women making the sacrifices are volunteers.

The ultimate message learned from Vietnam by policymakers was the protests won't come if the folks doing the fighting are there by choice. Pagliuca acknowledged as much when he said he supported a draft from a sense of equality.

But principle gave way to politics when he issued a classic back-off:
“I incorrectly interpreted the question to be asking if I would support a mandatory draft in the event we needed additional troops, and my answer was yes,’’ he said in the statement. “I now realize that was not the question posed to me, and I want to be clear that I do not support reinstating the military draft at this time.’’
Nor did Pagliuca do himself a lot of favors trying to undo his "I agree with Mike" performance in the first televised debate when he jabbed at federal funding that has financed transportation infrastructure and established Massachusetts as a leader in medical research.
“Pork hardens your arteries. It doesn’t create long-term jobs.’’
Cute line, if only it held up to scrutiny.

The double-bonus debacle only heightens the impression that the visibility and name recognition Pagliuca has run up with his Bloombergian-spending on scripted commercials only masks a candidate who doesn't handle himself all that well in the trenches.

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