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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, September 30, 2012

Say goodnight Mitt

The best evidence that Mitt Romney is in trouble can be found right under his nose -- as the Boston Herald tries to turn Annie Dookhan into Willie Horton.

The Herald is now offering regular GOP comment on how the "rogue chemist" at the heart of the crime lab scandal could pose a drag on the 2016 presidential ambitions of Deval Patrick.

Never mind that Patrick is disavowing national ambitions and that in a perfect conservative world 2016 would be the campaign to launch Romney's second term.

The indicted chemist seemed to act without supervision in manipulating drug samples necessary to make court cases stick. The fallout is already significant and could escalate to the release of more than 1,000 inmates convicted by evidence tainted by her review.

The Department of Public Health, which used to run the lab, has dismissed several supervisors for failing to supervise and a once-highly regard commissioner has resigned amid the fallout.

But the Herald is looking for a bigger scalp (to channel Scott Brown):
“If Deval Patrick were to run for president, this would be a huge issue,” former state treasurer Joe Malone, a Republican, said. “This is a case where every American would understand that this kind of malpractice on his administration’s part puts criminals back on the street. Willie Horton certainly comes to mind.”
Malone knows about miscreants operating under him. The embezzlers were top aides and associates, not state employees well down the food chain. While ultimately Patrick is responsible for everything that happens on his watch, it is a stretch for Malone to bring up Horton.

Until we remember that Malone launched the second career of former Herald reporter Eric Fehrnstrom, now a key part of the brain trust of both Romney and Brown.

A tad conspiratorial? Perhaps. But political consultants live in a tight-knit world and often look several moves ahead on the chess board. And Romney's options are certainly beginning to shrink.

Fehrnstrom may be coming to grips with the reality that a West Wing office is not in his future. What better resume item can a consultant hopeful present than killing a potential rival candidacy at birth?

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