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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, January 22, 2010

The State of the State ain't so hot

One thing is clear after the Deval Patrick's potentially final State of the State Address -- he's a decent guy who won't pander. But in a state seeing and voting red, telling voters “Be angry, but channel it in a positive direction’’ doesn't look like a winning strategy.

While Patrick copped to mistakes and avoided costly promises (other than protecting education funding) in a budget that continues to project red ink as far as the eye can see, he didn't hit the home run he needed to kick off his re-election campaign.

The obvious indicator was the tepid applause from the assembled members of the House and Senate who could be seen twiddling their thumbs and and taking catnaps. And it could be heard in the silence that greeted Patrick's list of triumphs in 2009 in shepherding transportation, pension and ethics reform through a resistant Legislature.

We know at least some lawmakers were upset. A new Gang of Eight delivered their version of the Martin Luther's 95 Theses, demanding that House Speaker Robert DeLeo open up the chamber's doors and books by offering greater transparency with the radical notion that the House play by the same rules as other elected bodies - including laws on public records, open meetings, and competitive bidding.
“We want the House to become a functional democracy.’’
Well at least 5 percent of the House may be listening to Patrick and channeling their anger in the right direction.

It's been suggested here and elsewhere that Patrick needs to run against the scandal-plagued Great and General Court if he is to have a fighting chance in November. Some have even suggested he emulate his beleaguered New York colleague David Paterson and use the speech as a harsh jeremiad against wayward lawmakers.

Instead, he tried to celebrate their joint successes -- even if lawmakers had to be dragged kicking and screaming into some of them. His reward was for them to sit on their hands at key applause lines.

Patrick tried to inspire with tales like the Boxer Buddies at Brockton High School. But lawmakers, at least, aren't into aspiration. They are looking to channel their anger by directing voter rage at Patrick and not them.

Not that Patrick's opponents offered substance. Charlie Baker was out with his analysis before the speech even started. Tim Cahill was at campaign fund-raiser (great symbolism Timmie!) and offered criticism that Patrick offered no specifics about how to clean up the mess. Did I miss your solution Mr. Treasurer?

In a sense, it is commendable Patrick offer hope instead of red meat. But with his political future as the main course in this election year, he needs to channel his own anger at circumstances largely out of his control shattering his plans and reconnect with Massachusetts voters who swept him into office on waves of hope.

Deval could use some of his own Boxer Buddies.

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Blogger Daniel said...

Everybody loves their own legislator, though. "He might be a hack, but he's our hack." Take your pick: if Galluccio or DiMasi were up for reelection, they'd probably win in a landslide. But Deval Patrick's somehow always the bad guy.
Yet another reason Massachusetts voters aren't nearly as smart as some have given them credit for.

January 22, 2010 6:55 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

And another thing: is it me or does every cop in the City of Boston have that godforsaken "Together We Can Vote Deval Out" bumper sticker on their private vehicle? Was the union giving those out or something because Patrick was threatening to hire a couple of civilian flaggers and thus cut into their precious triple overtime bonanzas? Come on, guys, give us a break with that- you're lucky not to have had to deal with layoffs with things the way they are.

January 22, 2010 7:04 AM  

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