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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, April 23, 2010

The vision thing

Tim Cahill has been a candidate with multiple personalities throughout his political rise from Quincy City Councilor to treasurer to his bid for governor. In the last few years alone he has morphed from moderate Democrat to independent to Tea Party wannabe.

And he apparently thinks alliances are fungible and details non-essential.

That picture is reinforced in the Globe profile of Cahill's rise from smoothie shop owner with big ambitions to challenge Starbucks to a politician with ambitions. There is a certain consistency to Cahill's method of operation: think big picture, make temporary alliances and abandon them when the next big thing comes along.

The most intriguing remark comes from one of Cahill's erstwhile partners in the failed smoothie business:
“We had disagreements about how to go forward. We were all convinced we knew what was right.’’
A belief in himself remains the key piece of the Cahill political profile. Details? That's for someone else.

That trait was on display again yesterday in an interview with the editorial board of Gatehouse News Service.

Time and again when asked for specifics -- how many people need to be laid off to balance the commonwealth's budget, what does he think about the casino bill, why he didn't oppose the health care in 2006 -- Cahill responded with some form of "I don't know" or "no one asked."

As Gatehouse editor Greg Reibman noted later on his Twitter feed:
"He was like the kid who comes to class saying, 'I didn't study that part.'"
Some discretion is always appropriate and it's true it's hard to make specific cuts until you know the details (assuming you have time to study them).

While it's also true that half of life is just showing up, candidates who want to lead the state out of the fiscal wilderness should take the time and trouble to bone up on the proposals out there.

And Cahill, like Charlie Baker, would prefer to lay the entire blame at the doorstep of Deval Patrick without acknowledging the 800-pound gorilla of the Legislature that is more than an equal partner in digging out of the mess.

Smart politics because you run against a person. But suggesting all of our problems will wash away with a change in the Corner Office is avoiding the most important detail of all.

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