Archive for the ‘Deval Patrick’ Category

Personal Memories of Campaign 2008

November 6, 2008
I first met Barack Obama at a sparsely attended press conference for Deval Patrick in October 2006. I saw him electrify an audience at the JFK Library and witnessed his first big appearance in New Hampshire in early December. I was there in Concord when Obama stood by his vow to meet the president of Iran during his first year in office. “We don’t need Bush-Cheney Lite,” he said as the crowd erupted in cheers. Even when this became an issue in the debates with McCain, nobody told McCain Obama ever said that.
I heard him implore Massachusetts to vote for him with Caroline Kennedy and Ted Kennedy at his side the night before the primary. He lost but he did not lose his cool.
I saw his last appearance with foreign policy aide Samantha Power. Obama seemed to love her energy but his staffers kept reeling her in.
I was one of the few writers to spend an extended period of time with Joe Biden, who gave me time after a book talk at Borders in downtown Boston. In an odd juxtaposition from four years earlier, I waited for Biden with the BPPA’s leadership team.
I attended scores of Hillary Clinton speeches and watched her campaign of inevitability devolve into desperation. I saw her fight back as the NH primary approached. I was in the room when two goons got up during one of her speeches shouting “Iron My Shirt! Iron My Shirt!”
I covered the Pennsylvania primary before Obama had figured out how to capture the votes of blue collar whites (or before the economy entirely went south.) I saw a Bill Clinton, reduced to giving 25 minute speeches in out-of-the-way venues, rev up the crowd in Millvale, PA. I interviewed Senator Casey of Pennsylvania who assured me Obama would win over enough Catholic voters to become president.
On the Republican side, I began by following Mitt Romney around New Hampshire. I saw Rudy Giuliani take brief interest and lose it in the Granite State. While he started to resonate in July, his big tour across Southern New Hampshire was a bust. The lasting image is of his gaggle of stilettoed press aides shoeing away the media, including David Broder who subsequently slammed Giuliani in the Washington Post.
McCain began his presidential campaign in Portsmouth at a highly orchestrated event right on the river with just one problem. The t.v. cameras could not shoot over the big speakers McCain’s people had set up. I called around NH when McCain hit his low point. McCain would win NH on his own, his supporters said. And they were right. I was with McCain the night he won NH and killed the campaign of Mitt Romney. The campaign blared Chuck Berry’s “Go Johnny Go!” How is this guy going to compete with Obama and his U2 “City of Blinding Light?” I thought.
I was there in Denver when Obama made everything in his campaign bigger and pulled it off.

Corporate Responsibility: More Than Just a Hobby

October 18, 2008

Can businesses enhance their commitment to social responsibility during difficult economic times? That was one of the questions posed today at the Massachusetts Summit on Progressive Business held at the Harvard Club.

The consensus of this gathering was that these troubled times create the exact moment for business leaders to make good on their social commitments.

The president of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Josh Broger, speaking at a morning panel, raised an interesting point. He cited the Massachusetts General Laws section on shareholder responsibility. Embedded within the statute was clear language permitting shareholders to factor in community and regional concerns to their corporate duty to seek profits. “You have permission … to be socially responsible,” he said.

He was joined on the panel by the president of the Communispace Corporation, Diane Hessan. She said that the bulk of employees, who are members of the Millennial Generation, are demanding some corporate responsibility at their places of employment. Interestingly, this message directly gibes with what I heard from pollster John Zogby about younger Americans.

Governor Deval Patrick, on a day when he focused on the economy, appeared before the gathering at a lunch. In my view, both the summit and Patrick’s appearance before it make a lot of sense. If there is any good to come out of a poor business climate perhaps it is the shared sense of commitment and responsibility that I heard from members of the business community today. In some ways, the Harvard Club parley reminded me of the Vault I have heard so much about from the days of old, where Boston’s CEOs acted as public citizens with the best interest of the future our city in mind. In that case, it will be up to the new generation of leaders, such as Jeffrey Bussgang of Flybridge Capital Partners, and Jim Boyle of the Sustainability Round Table, to help forge it.

Farewell to Charles E. Doyle

October 17, 2008

Charles E. Doyle 

Occasionally this blog tells the story of the great personalities who comprise the fabric of the city, the ones who you won’t necessarily read about in the daily newspapers. One of those people died this week, Charlie Doyle of Brighton.

If I were forced to reduce Doyle’s life to headlines, which is always difficult, I’d describe him as the leader — the innovator really — of a vibrantly progressive ward committee in Brighton, Ward 21, a long-time city politico, having run the City of Boston’s Cable Office under a number of city mayors, a political visionary and a Bostonian’s Bostonian.

But I can’t really boil Doyle down to that, because he was much, much more. His story begins amid the simmering liberalism of the late 1950s and early 1960s — before it turned into the cauldron of the latter part of that decade. He graduated from the now-defunct St. Columbkille High School of Brighton and travelled down Commonwealth Avenue to attend Boston University. There he electrified fellow students with his encyclopedic knowledge of politics and history. Then he went even farther afield for a graduate program at Columbia University in New York City. New York, at that time, was a place of swirling intellectual and political foment. Charlie and I talked about that period in his life when I visited with him at the Cable Office in the mid-1990s. It helped power a intellectual engine, but he came back to Brighton to make a difference.

When he came back, Charlie put into practice his knowledge of the burgeoning field of political science. At a time when most ward committee work was limited to distributing political signs, Doyle was turning it into a science. He gathered detailed voter data, compiled demographic information, and kept the best data bases in the city.

My grandparents lived in Brighton for much of my life, and I thought I knew the neighborhood. That was until I called Doyle for a story. In painstaking — and delicious — detail, he broke down the differences between the liberal, but sometimes transient, Ward 21, and the more socially-conservative, Ward 22.

He was a skilled photographer. His work, which was on display at his wake, could serve as a pictorial history of Boston with vintage photos of Kevin White, Larry Bird and others. He was ahead of the curve on a trend that has become very popular today, bicycle riding. I remember on him tooling around his bike at Nantasket Beach in Hull. He remained a political junkie until the end, relishing WGBH’s Friday night line up of political shows, beginning with Greater Boston.

But, most of all, Doyle was the quiet creator of a political dynasty in Brighton. He took the two basketball-loving sons of his sister Mary under his wing and imparted to them everything he ever knew about politics. It was his gift. He bestowed it on the dogged and lovable Kevin Honan, who has become as reliable and earnest a representative as that neighborhood has ever had. And he delivered it to the charismatic, witty and talented Brian Honan, who served Brighton as a city councillor and then was running a rigorous campaign for district attorney, when he died suddenly and tragically at the age of 39 in 2002.

I can’t say that Charlie was the same after that. But who would be.

There was something awful about seeing many of the same faces at the funeral home on Chestnut Hill Avenue yesterday. Amidst the pain, people were talking about one of Charlie’s great final achievements. Back in 2005 and 2006 a former Clinton Administration official, little known in the Boston area, started making the rounds trying to meet people and build up a grass roots political organization. He was, of course, Deval Patrick. Most insiders met Patrick with indifference at best.

Doyle was different. He welcomed Patrick to a ward committee meeting. There he grilled the would-be governor. Why was he any different than any of the other great progressive candidates, whose candidacies failed after great fanfare? Patrick convinced many in the ward that he was different. He took 14/18 delegates at the caucuses that year.

With Doyle’s departure, like the death of Boston-chronicler Alan Lupo a couple weeks ago, the city is a poorer place, one more in danger of losing its character and characters.

Gitell on NECN NewsNight

August 6, 2008

Watch me here and here on NECN NewsNight. Here’s what we have to say about Barack Obama. The other guests are Warren Tolman and Bob Parks.

Obama and Patrick

August 5, 2008

Barack Obama’s appearance in Boston last night with Governor Patrick prompted me to write about how the governor’s performance might foretell an Obama presidency.

“In Massachusetts, where his friend and political ally Deval Patrick won the top office by campaigning in an eerily similar fashion to Senator Obama, voters have a Petri dish to examine what the Democratic candidate’s presidency might be like should he win in November.

Comparisons between the two men are in order once again. Mr. Obama celebrated his 47th birthday in Boston last night at a $4 million fundraiser with Governor Patrick at his side.

Like Mr. Obama’s campaign, Mr. Patrick’s was heavy on sweeping rhetoric and increased expectations. Advised by, among others, David Axelrod, who is also Mr. Obama’s chief strategist, Mr. Patrick offered state voters the prospect of great change.

In the first months of his governorship, Mr. Patrick weathered his worst political problems. After several months, he stabilized his position by bringing in an experienced team of staffers. Yet the extraordinary promise his campaign once offered has given way to ordinary political wrangling. For example, to help pay for his ideas, Mr. Patrick turned to backing the introduction of legalized casino gambling in Massachusetts. When it looked like the legislature would defeat the gambling effort — which it did — Mr. Patrick quietly headed out of state and scored a book deal in New York.”

I also point out some of the governor’s strengths:

“Since taking office Mr. Patrick has been a vocal proponent of Massachusetts becoming a national and international center of biotech research. He pushed for the passage of a $1 billion life sciences initiative and was named “Governor of the Year” by the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

His courageous decision to campaign on behalf of a controversial wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod, Cape Wind (even when it was opposed by Senator Kennedy), has looked better with energy costs spiraling upward.

Mr. Patrick believes he can grow jobs in Massachusetts by making the state a haven for clean jobs. The governor signed his Clean Energy Bill last month, which, among other provisions, ties utility contracts to the funding of local clean energy companies.”

What’s Happening with Treasurer Tim Cahill

July 18, 2008

Local news reports are filled with speculation about the aggressive stance Tim Cahill has taken towards Governor Patrick’s budget. PolitickerMA weighs in with a story:

“Putting aside whether Patrick’s plan is reckless or not, the fiery exchange between Murray and Cahill (the Globe’s Casey Ross called Murray’s remarks ‘unusually heated’) has not gone unnoticed by political analysts who believe both pols are eyeing the governor’s mansion. In particular, Cahill’s injecting himself into the budget discussion, they say, is a way to stay politically relevant.”

Reporter Jeremy Jacobs, who’s rapidly catching the eye of Bay State politicos, also quotes me in the dispatch. ” ‘Tim Cahill appears to be using his position as the Commonwealth’s chief financial officer to raise his political profile,’ said Seth Gitell, political analyst and author of ‘Consistently underestimated, Cahill has shown himself to be a strong statewide office holder.’ Gitell said Cahill is in a unique position to capitalize politically on the struggling economy. ‘[Cahill’s] oversight of the budget — a top priority during difficult fiscal times — creates an opportunity for him to make headlines. This could pay dividends if either Governor Patrick eventually joins a Barack Obama administration or if the governor’s poll numbers plummet.'”

Interestingly, back in 2002, I was one of the few writers to write about the race for treasurer let alone take Cahill seriously. “Tim Cahill has raised the most money in the race. He also has the most radical ideas for changing the role of treasurer: ‘We should have these Harvard and Yale people telling us how to invest our money? The treasurer’s job is to have that responsibility and make those decisions.’ ”

Boston Celebrates Israel at 60

May 8, 2008

Turnout was big for Israel’s 60th Anniversary celebration at the John F. Kennedy Library last night. Governor Patrick, along with Myra Kraft and Israel’s Consul General, Nadav Tamir, addressed the crowd. 

Patrick, whose fortunes figure to rise with the tough times of Speaker DiMasi and the resurgence of Barack Obama, gave a brief, good speech. He pointed out that Massachusetts governors have a record of supporting Israel since William Russell attached his name to the Jewish cause in 1891.

He also announced that he plans to lead a trade mission on behalf of the Commonwealth to Israel. While I’d expect the papers to get on him for this as time away from the state, I think there are some natural synergies between our state and Israel where biotech is emerging as a major industry.

I’ll have more on this historic milestone for Israel later in the week.



Keller in the Wall Street Journal

May 5, 2008

I often take a moment to reflect upon the trajectories taken by local writers and political pundits. One political analyst who continues to elevate his game is Jon Keller of WBZ-TV. Keller began the process when he published “The Bluest State” last year. He followed up on that success with a thoughtful essay in The Wall Street Journal on Saturday. In it, he revisited the similarities between Governor Patrick and Barack Obama.

“Education may be the one area where Mr. Patrick could have done the most to demonstrate that he is indeed a new man of the left. Fifteen years ago, the state enacted strict testing requirements for both teachers and students and passed reforms that encourage the creation of charter schools. The result: Massachusetts consistently places among the top performers on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Sticking by these bipartisan reforms – or even expanding them to help minority children in poor areas – would seem to be an easy call.

But to the delight of education unions, Mr. Patrick instead appears to be laying the groundwork to dismantle these reforms. He appointed antitesting zealot Ruth Kaplan to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, where she repaid his confidence recently by disparaging the college preparation emphasis of some charter schools. She said these schools set ‘some kids up for failure . . . Their families don’t always know what’s best for their children.’

S. Paul Reville, chairman of the education board, has also drawn attention for his willingness to water down certification testing requirements for aspiring teachers. Under the guise of trying to overcome a teacher shortage, the administration wants to allow applicants who have failed the test three times to teach anyway. When pressed on the issue, Mr. Reville said publicly that the certification test ‘isn’t necessarily the best venue for everybody to demonstrate their competency.’ “

Obama’s Plagiarism of Deval

February 19, 2008

It’s no surprise to anybody that Deval Patrick and Barack Obama have borrowed riffs and language from each other for the past several years. Their tremendous similarity is one reason, I believe, Obama lost both New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Here’s what I wrote in January on the subject. I started my column with a Deval Patrick riff that could have been Obama: “This was not a victory just for me. This was not a victory just for Democrats. This was a victory for hope.”

For this reason, the Clinton attack of Obama carries little weight. It seems to me to be perfectly appropriate for a candidate who is essentially being advised, in part, by Deval Patrick, to use this language. It’s a transparent relationship, and everyone following politics is aware of it. It’s also well-known that Patrick and Obama share the same campaign strategist, David Axelrod, which puts the charge of “plagiarism” in a different and less damaging light.

Here’s my take on the fracas: “The saddest thing about the Clinton campaign’s attack on Mr. Obama’s oratory is that her team should have been ready for it. President Clinton came to Massachusetts on October 16, 2006, to campaign for Mr. Patrick, when he was making his “just words” speech. Mr. Clinton hosted a fundraiser for Mr. Patrick, whose own campaign was filled with rhetoric of hope. If anyone should have been prepared for and ready to counter such a campaign, it is Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Patrick’s language was so similar to that of Mr. Clinton during the 1992 campaign that the Boston Globe published a story about their similarities, ‘In Patrick, A Clinton Echo.’ The article quoted a key passage of a speech given by Mr. Clinton in 1992: ‘This election is a race between hope and fear, between division and community, between responsibility and blame, between whether we have the courage to change, to stay young forever, or whether we stay with the comfort of the status quo.’ The language was, in fact, so similar that Mr. Patrick could not tell if the words were his or Mr. Clinton’s.

Later that same day, Mr. Clinton praised his former appointee, Mr. Patrick, calling him “magnificent.” There is no record of him criticizing Mr. Patrick’s language as too similar to his own. Mrs. Clinton has a sliver of a chance in this presidential race. But yesterday’s tired trick will likely do more to hasten the end of her national political career than sustain it.”

Read more here.   

Bald Is Beautiful

February 12, 2008

Boston Globe Photo

Governor Deval Patrick has a history of taking brave stands for progress and civil rights. He headed up the Civil Rights Division in the Department of Justice in the Clinton Administration. He became the first ever African-American governor in Massachusetts. Now, according to Matt Viser in today’s Boston Globe he earns his place in Massachusetts history as the first ever Massachusetts chief executive to shave his head. Hats off to him.

Patrick’s move follows in the footsteps of a former state senator from Watertown and 2002 gubernatorial candidate, Warren Tolman. Tolman was a pioneer for bald politicians — and even journalists — in the Commonwealth. The catchy slogan of one of his publicly-financed advertisements was “bald is beautiful.”Hopefully 2008 will be a new era for the bald in Massachusetts. Back in 2002, Gersh Kuntzman, then a web columnist for Newsweek, did a piece on Tolman that captured the anti-bald spirit of the era. Kuntzman wrote: “The victim this time was former Massachusetts state senator Warren Tolman, a proud bald man, who lost the Democratic primary for governor last week. The loss was particularly bitter for the bald because Tolman had intentionally used his lack of hair to get on the radar screen in the race, running ads that showed him rubbing his shiny pate while standing in a barbershop surrounded by equally hairless men.”

I caught up with Tolman to find out what he thought of the governor’s bold bald move. “Welcome to the club,” Tolman said Patrick. “Up to this point I always said Deval Patrick was a handsome guy, now more impressively he’s a handsome bald guy.” He described his own bald ploy as taking “what in politics what is often perceived as a negative and make it a positive.”

Of course, I’ve got a stake in this battle as well and thank the governor for his courageous leadership.