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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

It's the charisma, stupid

Who would have ever guessed that Deval Patrick's resurgence from dead meat to front runner would be based on his ability to out-charisma the opposition?

But with the clouds starting to slowly lift over Massachusetts, it's the draping-buying, Cadillac-riding chief executive who has regularly expressed his disdain for the media who has a double-digit lead over the Republican money bags former health insurance executive and the bomb-throwing, falling off the right edge of the stage independent state treasurer.

How's it happen? Deval Patrick kicked into campaign mode.

In what's both a blessing and a curse, Patrick resembles the last Democrat to hold the Corner Office -- you remember the guy who talked about competence trumping ideology. Mike Dukakis put such a premium on getting the job done that he often forgot about the niceties of daily life when appealing to the public.

Yet the man slammed as The Ice Man by George H.W. Bush had a warm and friendly personality that really only came out when he wasn't in the spotlight -- a tough problem for a candidate.

I've had far less interaction with Patrick, but I've been impressed how intently he works a room, not wanting to miss a chance to meet everyone --even if they are not supporters, or even voters. There's a sincerity there which can't be faked.

I've also found Baker a pleasant presence, someone far more pragmatic in his approach to issues than he has come across on the trial.

But Baker has simply failed, so far at least, in connecting with the public. It's astounding that more than 60 percent pf the public doesn't have an opinion of him after almost a year of speculation and formal campaigning. Why that is happening is a problem which has already led to the jettisoning of one campaign manager.

We're only in June, five months from the final election and a lot can happen. But as of now, the race is among a determined incumbent who has finally found his voice, a career politician who has adopted slash-and-burn tactics to get to the next step and a competent and amiable bureaucrat who has failed to inspire anyone to his side except the folks with large checkbooks.

There's too much made in politics about a candidate's personality -- witness the current laments about Barack Obama's Mr. Spock-like calmness in the wake of countless disasters. But the public wants to be able to draw at least some human connection from a candidate -- which they have from Obama.

But so far, Baker simply hasn't been able to deliver.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I don't care about the "human" connection, I want competent, honest administrators.
It still saddens me that the general electorate is taken in by these election spectacles which always remind me of the scenes in the movies where the drought stricken farmers clamour for a few minutes of the cannon booms from the rainmakers wagon. Every election descends into 30 second commercials where the best fabrication of a phrase to remember, paints your opponent as
an idiot. Both parties do it, and now with the recent supreme court decision it's going to get worse.

June 07, 2010 12:13 PM  

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