Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Is Obama Deval Patrick II? Obama didn't steal the words of his buddy Deval Patrick, governor of Massachusetts. He borrowed them. OK. But what are the other similarities between Obama and Patrick? The two pols have a lot in common even aside from shared rhetoric. Has Patrick's term been a success, or has it been a cautionary example of a promising, race-transcendant Democrat squandering his mandate by governing as a hack interest-group liberal? Fred Siegel has an answer to this question. Excerpt:
Patrick's governorship is the closest thing we have to a preview of the "politics of hope"—and that governorship has been a failure to date. As Joan Vennochi observes in the Boston Globe, "Democrats who control the Legislature ignored virtually every major budget and policy initiative presented by a fellow Democrat." Patrick's record in office, Vennochi concludes, "shows that it can be hard to get beyond being the face of change, to actually changing politics." His stock has sunk so markedly that Hillary Clinton carried the state handily against Obama in the Democratic primary despite, or perhaps because of, Patrick's support for his political doppelgänger.
In one area, however, Patrick has achieved some of his goals. In thrall to the state's teachers' unions, he has partly rolled back the most successful educational reforms in the country. Most states gamed the federal testing requirements that were part of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. But Massachusetts, thanks to Republican governors William Weld and Mitt Romney, created the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability to ensure that the state's testing methods conformed closely to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—federal tests that are the gold standard for measuring educational outcomes. In 2007, Massachusetts became the first state to achieve top marks in all four categories of student achievement. One of Patrick's first efforts as governor was to eliminate the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability. [E.A.]
Isn't it incumbent on those prominent NEA-bashing neoliberal Obama supporters to explain just why his term as president won't quickly descend into a Patrick-like interest-group quagmire? Jon Alter, this means you! And Charles Peters as well. ... P.S.: Patrick could function as Obama's wrang-wrang, Vonnegut's term for a pioneer who by his bad example steers others away from a false course. Before neolibs go into a permanent campaign swoon, shouldn't Obama send them at least a subtle signal that he understands this?
Backfill: Here's Vennochi's column. She's a bit more charitable than Siegel. ... Update: Boston Globe on Patrick's strained relationship with the legislature. Hope= casino gambling? ... 4:19 P.M. link
"Any comment that is disparaging of either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama is totally inappropriate."-- Sen. McCain today. ... Is that really how McCain is going to run for president? Why can't you disparage your opponent in a political campaign? ... I'm obviously late on picking this up, but McCain really does have a habit of making categorical, blunderbuss statements that maximize, not the truth, or his political maneuvering room, but his own sense of righteousness. ... Examples: 1) It's not that he doesn't remember various Iseman-related meetings. They never occurred. 2) The United States will not torture (except, you know, when it will). 3) Any comment disparaging of Senator Obama is not just inappropriate, it's "totally" inappropriate (except down the road, of course, when it may become necessary ...). 1:47 P.M. link
Meet the Press Moments! 1) Doris Kearns Goodwin, absolving Barack Obama on the question of his lifted uplift. ... Writes itself! ... 2) Goodwin, on politicans' sex scandals:
But I think the serious thing that happened is just this change in relationship between the candidates and the reporters has been such a sea change. In 1920, the reporters knew in detail that Warren Harding was having an affair for 15 years. They thought it wasn't their business to talk about the private life, compared to a front-page article that suspects an affair on the part of some aides. In fact, the Republican committee was so worried about this affair that they actually gave the woman $20,000 and sent her to the Orient during the entire campaign to get her out of the way. So we've changed the whole notion of what part of a private life matters. When the real story is what part of the public life matters. [E.A.]
Huh? If the Republican committee was so worried about Harding's mistress, doesn't that show she was considered relevant, and that there was a chance that at least some of the press would see it as their business?