Not many people outside of Massachusetts know the story about a relatively young Harvard educated black guy with little experience in politics but a compelling personal story who rides a theme of hope and "Together We Can" to the chief executive's seat. It is the story of Deval Patrick, elected Governor of Massachusetts last year, who has failed to live up to even the lowest of the high hopes that put him into power.
The story became better known to many yesterday, as his rocky first 14 months in office were profiled on the front page of the New York Times.
Deval has accomplished nothing thus far with regard to his legislative agenda, and that's good news for the people of Massachusetts, of course, as he's an elitist suburbanite by nature who thinks that activist, expensive government is the cure to all ills. Even in the face of a $1.3 billion deficit when he came into office, Deval went about trying to figure out ways to grow the budget, going so far as to pursue an aggressive casino gambling package for the state, not exactly a popular idea with his base, in order to help fund his legacy. How can a governor, after all, leave office a success if he has not created new programs to break the backs of taxpayers and created more state jobs? It apparently never occurred to him that in bad times some belt tightening and shrinking of expectations would be appropriate. Heavens no! Leaving office without having added new entitlements and thousands more dependent on the state would be as sad as Bill Clinton leaving the presidency without having fought a good war! No greatness without great achievements!
The Man From Hope (not Bill Clinton, not Barack Obama, but Deval Patrick) has been a failure because he doesn't know how to get along with folks - whether it be the media, the people, or with the legislature. Like the GOP governors who preceded him, Deval just can't seem to get along with the Democrats who have total control over the legislature. Unlike the GOP governors who preceded him, Deval badmouths them and expects them to do what he wants because he is Deval. That's how it worked at Justice, after all.
After the Speaker of the House blocked Deval's attempt to bring casinos to the state last week, Deval shrewdly tried to alienate Sal DiMasi further by challenging his right to interfere with the machinations of the legislative process:
“It’s part of what we ran against, and it needs to be called out,” Mr. Patrick said in an interview last week on the day before the House overwhelmingly killed the (casino gambling) bill. “We’re going to keep working on it until we get a Democratic process that’s functioning.”
A functioning democratic process apparently means one with Deval Patrick as King.
And on the day that his proposal was going down to overwhelming defeat at the hands of DiMasi, Deval had skipped out to New York City on what his staff would only describe as "personal business."
Days later the truth is revealed - Deval was in New York City visiting publishers with his agent, looking for a big payday for his memoirs. After all, if Barack can do it, why not Deval?
The lesson is obvious - judging a candidate based on his smooth speaking skills does not in any way reflect what kind of chief executive they'll be. Putting someone without appropriate experience into a job of big responsibility is a set up for disaster.
I'm not saying that Barack's poor judgement is a match for Deval's. Barack's liabilities are likely as unique as Deval's. But Presidents are best well-known to voters in advance of elections so that the liabilities can be judged along with the potential upside. And in the big decisions we've seen from Barack, he's made some bad ones; a close, longterm association with an indicted political fundraiser, a shady house purchase including shenanigans with the same alleged briber (described as a boneheaded move by the always honest Barack), a close personal and political relationship with a divisive, race baiting pastor, and a wife who, sadly, has never been impressed with America.