Rent control is working already
: It’s working in the sense that it’s working the way critics warned
. And it hasn't even been passed yet. Congrats, mayor. P.S. Any word yet, mayor, on the proposed Chinatown development
you've been dragging your feet on -- you know, the one with hundreds of new apartments that would help relieve the housing shortage in the city?
Showcasing the city
: Businesses are lining up to support the city’s effort to land the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston.
Why? They want to showcase the city to the nation and world. They’re proud of the region and its recent economic transformation. That’s probably the best -- and only good -- reason for supporting Boston’s bid, though Hub Blog suspects a little arm twisting also made the corporate types see the light of day on the issue. ... They probably won't have to fork over the dough anyway. Hub Blog seems to be in the non-boosterism minority these days in thinking that the dog-and-pony lobbying/courtship is nothing but national Dems appeasing Boston pols. The Dems will probably decide in favor of New York or Miami. The image of Boston as “too liberal” is a powerful reason to avoid the Hub in 2004, even though that liberal image -- as last Tuesday’s elections showed -- is seriously outdated.
The church and reform
: Hub Blog doesn’t believe it. I’m in full agreement with Joan Vennochi
and James Carroll
on the same subject and on the same day. Did someone slip something into my coffee? ... Alex Beam writes about a reform dispute at the Christian Science Church
Campus free speech
: Another setback for campus free speech
. Except this time it’s not (surprise) from the PC Nazis. It’s from the Corporate Suck-up Nazis
. And it stinks just the same. ... But the PC types are still alive and kicking in Cambridge, though they’re losing this battle
. ... And Helen Thomas
tells MIT folks how she censored herself for so many years. Yeah, right. Her strong views never slipped into her reporting. She was an Objective Robot programmed to tell the truth. And now the switch has been turned off and she has the freedom to hate life. What a delightful personality.
Mitt and patronage
: Dan Kennedy
is having fun over Mitt Romney’s flip-flopping on the issue of his patronage hires. To a degree, Mitt brought this on himself (again) because he should have made clear before the election that, yes, of course, naturally, he’s going to put key people in top posts who philosophically agree with his agenda. Otherwise, how can an elected executive put his philosophical imprint on government? He didn’t make that distinction before the election, so he’s probably going to take some heat for it now. But let’s make one thing clear: Constitutionally, he’s absolutely correct, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, to exclude non-management types (“the little guys”) from patronage hires. In its landmark Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois
ruling, the Supreme Court said that political patronage hires, promotions, transfers and recalls were unconstitutional because they infringed on non-management workers’ rights to hold political views (i.e., the First Amendment) contrary to the views of whatever party was in power. The court specifically stated that top-level, policymaking positions (the type Mitt is talking about) were exempt from the anti-patronage ruling because elected officials are entitled to surround themselves with people who can shape the philosophical agenda of an administration. Maybe Mitt deserves grief over what he did or didn’t say before the election. But what he’s saying now is both constitutional and
in line with what elected officials can and should be doing in order to comply with Rutan
. So, Mitt, stick to your guns. You have no choice. It’s supposed to be the law of the land, even though it's been routinely ignored in Massachusetts. If Mitt is truly serious about cleaning up the 'mess on Beacon Hill,' one of his first acts as governor should be to sign an Executive Order bringing the executive branch into immediate, verifiable compliance with Rutan
. We'll see.
Postscript: Hub Blog knows a thing or two about the Rutan
decision, which was filed in the ‘80s by an Illinois state government worker upset with the well-oiled GOP patronage system run by then Gov. Jim Thompson. The ruling was handed down in 1990, at the end of Big Jim's long tenure as governor and ten years after he imposed a "hiring freeze" in state government, which was the clever mechanism the administration used to closely screen and control hirings in state government. Hub Blog was a Statehouse reporter in Illinois at the time. The Rutan
decision sent shock waves through the Illinois Capitol the day it was announced. An incredulous Thompson, hounded by reporters through the corridors and finally cornered outside his office, was literally reading the decision, jaw dropped, as he blasted its logic in answer to reporters’ questions. The administration eventually took steps to “comply” with Rutan, but, of course, got around it by creating lots of new policymaking “management” positions and issuing more no-bid “personnel services” contracts. (Ah, privatized, smaller government at work!) Hub Blog is unaware of later rulings that may have significantly modified Rutan
, but I’ll gladly stand corrected if someone points it/them out.
Postscript postscript: According to Hub Blog's understanding of Rutan
, Mitt shouldn't even be saying he'll hold it against people, when hiring, if they worked on his campaign. Political considerations should not be factored into hiring decisions of non-sensitive, non-policymaking personnel, according to the court.
The overplayed ‘unbecoming’ issue
: You got to admire the Globe for admitting that the ‘unbecoming’ story in the last week of the campaign -- you know, the secret anti-female code word that NOW discerned Mitt using in the last debate -- was simply overplayed
. Here’s Globe ombudsman Christine Chinlund: “The Globe did indeed overplay the ‘unbecoming’ story -- to the detriment of more deserving issues. It was legitimate news fare, but rather than let ‘unbecoming’ define the day's coverage, it needed to be presented in the broader context of the post-debate home stretch. An issues-focused hard news story, with ‘unbecoming’ as one element, would have better served readers.” ... And Chinlund also interviewed Globe editor Marty Baron about the matter: “Last week, when the flood had ebbed, I asked Globe editor Martin Baron his view on how the Globe handled the story. ‘Overplayed’ but otherwise fine as written, he responded. ‘Although it was indeed the much-discussed topic of the day for both candidates -- which says something about the campaign itself -- it was really much ado about very little. So, in my view, readers who objected to the prominence we gave the story have good cause to grumble,’ said Baron.’”
End of matter. It happens. And Hub Blog also agrees with Baron that the Globe’s coverage of the campaign was, overall, balanced and fair. Yes, there was the ‘unbecoming’ issue, not to mention the ‘BYU donation’ controversy. But I was highly impressed with the Globe’s day-to-day coverage -- the profiles of candidates, the examination of issues facing the next governor, the variety of opinions in its columns and oped pages (from Brian McGrory to Joan Vennochi). Having been a political reporter, I’d grade the Globe’s coverage at a solid B+, maybe even an A-. Ditto for the Herald. (No one gets an A from Hub Blog!) It was just a great campaign overall. Kind of sad it’s over. ... Hub Blog agrees with Reader No. 1 that Brian McGrory, Margery Eagan and Scot Lehigh were at their best during the campaign. The Globe’s Joanna Weiss and the Phoenix’s Seth Gitell also rarely missed a beat. Both grasped the dynamics and importance of the Independent vote -- and Gitell was also the first to detect, as far as I can tell, the rumblings among social-conservatives over Shannon’s minor (but fatal) drift to the left on social issues. ... One major complaint about the media’s election coverage: the pre-election coverage of Question 1 sucked. The final results of Question 1 were a shocker -- and, in retrospect, they shouldn’t have been. The question was polling at 35 percent with two weeks left in the campaign and with about 20 percent of the electorate undecided. If even a quarter of those undecided had gone for Question 1 (a reasonable bet at the time), it would have meant it nabbing 40 percent support, a highly impressive figure. As it was, about half of the undecided broke in favor of Question 1, giving the measure its final 45-percent base. The numbers were there all along. No one was doing the math before the election, including Hub Blog. Question 1 ultimately failed, but its strong showing altered the post-election climate in Massachusetts. We now know a huge portion of the population is fed up with taxes -- and that 45-percent figure will hover over all future Beacon Hill budget deliberations.
Rail service to Montreal
: Mais oui!
Let's do it.
Rent control and one crazy condo idea
: Another argument against Mayor Menino’s rent control proposal
. And here’s an idea for new condos
in Boston. But they won't help with the housing shortage. Only Eddie Andelman.
What a game
: Unbelievable. Highly encouraging but very discouraging at the same time. The Bears are perhaps the worst team in football
right now -- and the Pats barely beat ‘em. Hub Blog loves Chicago and its Bears fans, having spent so many years in Illinois. But when the network started showing replays of the Bears-Pats Superbowl (was it really 17 years ago?!), I practically started screaming at the TV: “Cheap shot! Ancient history!” .... Yesterday wasn’t really revenge, but it was still sweet. Those poor Chicago fans
Redistricting is the key
: Tom Oliphant gets to the tactical matter
of last week’s national GOP gains: It’s about redistricting, too. Jeff Jacoby
is hoping Mitt will focus on rebuilding the Republican party in Massachusetts, something Bill, Paul and Jane neglected to do. Of course, he’s right. But Hub Blog’s view is that the Massachusetts GOP is in such tatters, at the grass-roots level, that it’s embarrassing to run as a Republican. A lot of young, ambitious, Republican-leaning pols might opt to join the GOP, but they’re not going to do it if it means a virtual end to their political careers after serving one-term as a Republican selectman in Lunenburg. They need and want stepping stones, i.e. a chance to move up to higher office -- selectman to legislator to Congress/statewide office. The key stepping stone between local offices (selectman, school committee member, dog catcher etc.) and Congress/statewide office is the legislature. And it’s here where the maps kill them. The legislature is the key. It’s not only a stepping stone. It controls the maps. Break the Beacon Hill machine, and the Congressional and statewide offices will follow. Maybe the Greens get it and will be more successful. ...
Shannon, liberals and Greens
: Speaking of Greens, Eileen McNamara
labors to make sense of Tuesday’s election results. She gets it -- and doesn’t get it. She’s right when she says this: “For most voters, this campaign was less ‘left versus right’ than ‘insider versus outsider.’ It is no accident that both O’Brien and Governor-elect Mitt Romany emphasized their determination to end business-as-usual and to ‘clean up the mess’ on Beacon Hill. Different voters want different things, but all voters want a candidate with an independent streak. The problem for O’Brien was not just that she is a product of that culture but that she failed to grasp the depth of disaffection with State House polls within her own party.” ... OK. Fine. But then Eileen starts belittling the “center” and singing the praise of her fellow liberal, professional, suburbanites over at the Green Party, suggesting that Shannon really wasn’t a classic liberal (and she wasn’t) and that she would have done better if she had “core” politics (like the classic liberal Jill Stein). Or at least that’s what I think McNamara is saying. Which really misreads the mood of the Massachusetts electorate on Tuesday -- the electorate that gave Mitt Romany 50 percent of the vote to Jill Stein’s 3 percent, the electorate that overwhelmingly approved Question 2, the electorate that nearly approved the radical anti-income tax Question 1, the electorate that gives George Bush higher approval ratings each time he talks tough about Iraq. As I said, I’d vote Green or even French Socialist if it meant breaking the Dem machine’s lock on Beacon Hill. So good luck to the Greens. But to suggest that veering toward the hard-core “core” left is the ideological (as opposed to the tactical) answer to breaking the machine, well, look at Tuesday’s results.
Reader No. 1’s pithy reaction to Eileen’s column
: “I thought it was very weak -- she set up a strawman which wasn't really there.”
Reader No. 1 on Josh Marshall’s Globe article
: Hub Blog didn’t read this “Ideas” column
very closely, but Reader No. 1 did. Here’s his assessment:
“Joshua Micah Marshall, blogger and author of the lead piece in today's Globe Ideas, reminds me of many people we went to college with: smart but illogical. Example: see how Marshall starts to finger Clinton's share of responsibility for this past week's Democratic calamity in his article, but justifies it because the former Prez could ‘spin his small-bore policy initiatives into a broader political message. ...’ Example, please? Another explanation: Clinton was: (A.) governing in good economic cycles and (B.) clever enough to allow partisan analysts and journalists like Marshall to fill in the gaps between his ‘small-bore policy initiatives’ with their own idealistic visions of the great liberal government that never was and probably never will be. Also, after you read Marshall's fifth paragraph in the Globe article about Democrats who never saw Tuesday coming (not writing in the first person -- ‘they have great difficulty explaining...’), go to this link of October 27
(nine days before the election). I particularly note his comment '...it's hard to miss a subtle but real shift in the Democrats' favor across the country.’ Don't get me wrong: I like Marshall's column while generally disagreeing with 85 percent of what he writes. But when he suggests a large progressive tax cut in the middle of a brutal (time) as one way to get the debate back on Democratic terms... you gotta wonder.”
The Trav, a bio
: You can take this story
at face value. Or you can read between the lines (the cigars, the back slapping, Wonderland, Steve Tocco, etc.).
Brighton reader responds
: “When I read Trav’s comments about his surgery and so on, I got this vision of him being told to return by apparitions of politicos past, that it wasn't his time yet, ‘Go back, Trav! There are more jobs that still need to be given out, the racetracks need you!’ Every near death experience is different.”
The Massachusetts ‘isn’t ready’ argument
: You knew it had to happen. Well, here it is
, as feeble as it is, from Carol Hardy-Fanta. One gets the clear impression that Shannon would have won the election if she had told supporters like Hardy-Fanta to back off. She didn’t. The rest is history. Meanwhile, the social-conservative view, which Hub Blog underestimated going into the election, is provided today courtesy of Joe Fitzgerald
at the Herald. ... Hub Blog still thinks this pre-election piece by Mary McGrory
was the best gender analysis of the campaign. (Ignore the misleading headline and silly references to the Boston Irish. She still nailed it.)
Brian McGrory, unplugged
: A few readers asked why Hub Blog didn’t post this Brian McGrory column
yesterday. Answer: I didn’t see it. Seems to have hit a sort of sentimental “West Wing” chord with some readers, who truly want some common sense and decency to reign on Beacon Hill. Hats off to McGrory for shrewdly catching that sentiment (and Mitt’s seeming transformation). The observations from Bill Weld are quite interesting. Still, there’s that nagging thought of how pathetic Mitt’s campaign was in the early stages. Will he drift back into that vapid nonsense? McGrory’s view: “As a candidate, Romney had potential that he never quite seemed to meet. As governor, he has the potential of being the best we've had in a long, long time. It's in everyone's interest for him to fulfill it.” Hope he’s right, but the key word is still 'potential.' ... On a more positive, less cynical note, this is very, very encouraging
. Mitt put out the call. And people responded. Very gratifying.
Charming ... just charming
: Looks like we have a choice for a new nickname for Mitt: Bushy-tail or Dudley Do-Right (to be shortened to Dudley under deadline pressures). Maybe other names will pop up soon, so we’ll hold off on a vote.
Yes, Mitt met yesterday with House Speaker Finneran, declaring the encounter ‘charming.’ The Globe’s story
indicates there may be hope for civil dialogue, though Finneran sounds as condescending as ever. ''He is bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to go,'' Finneran said after meeting Mitt at the Statehouse. ''I'm intrigued by the possibilities, and I'm more than willing to learn myself. ... A lot of people just elected him governor, and I'm very, very deferential to their choice, and I recognize that we hold a subordinate position.'' The Globe added this: “The friendly sentiments expressed underscored what many on Beacon Hill have been suggesting since Romney's election: that the GOP governor-elect and the controversial Democratic speaker actually have a good deal in common. Both are devoted to their families, are deeply religious, are wary of expansive state spending, and traditional about some social issues, such as gay rights.” All interesting points. There’s a lot of truth to it. Maybe there will be cooperation, like Weld-Bulger in the early ‘90s -- but remember that alliance was only temporary. The Herald
has a different take on Mitt’s Wicked Exciting Adventure to Beacon Hill: The battle lines are being drawn. Likely Senate President Robert E. Travaglini says Mitt ain’t going to get a tax cut in his first term. The Trav: ``I can understand during the course of the campaign how that can be the type of (tax-cut) comment that enhances the potential of victory and I can understand the context in which it is delivered. (But) having an understanding of the equation that we are presently confronted with, I would be very hard-pressed to find $1 billion (in savings).'' ... Howie Carr
doesn’t trust Finneran at all.
A final analysis of the Mitt-Shannon showdown
: Scot Lehigh
covers all the bases. Probably the best analysis of the election yet. ... Tom Keane
gives a pretty good analysis himself, but Scot really nails down most of the points.
A responsible appointment?:
Something must be wrong in the corner office in the waning days of the Swift administration. Jane is about to make an intelligent, inspired appointment
. Really. (Now watch her waver.)
There’s something profoundly wrong with a private-insurance health care system that tries to weasel out of its financial responsibilities
. These guys sound like Wall Street analysts and investment bankers, changing the rules and screwing their customers when it suits them. Hub Blog doesn’t support Hillary-style national health care, with its absurd bureaucracies and policy-wonk assumptions. But some sort of universal health care is needed in this country. Incidents like this make the case compelling. Remember: If they can do this to her, they can do it to you.
The Readers’ Forum
: Oh, doesn’t ‘Readers’ Forum’ sound so impressive, serious and pompous? Maybe Hub Blog should get an ombudsman next. Anyway, here are a few more emails from readers about the elections, Mitt, hack Massachusetts politics and the GOP gains Tuesday ...
From Michael at yahoo:
“I am crossing my fingers and hoping that Mitt, particularly keeping in mind the strong support for Question 1, will be fortified by the knowledge that Mass voters want and expect him to make prudent and responsible budget cuts, and that he won't fall for that ‘protect the most vulnerable’ claptrap (i.e, protect state workers, teachers and others in the government service industry) which Shannon has been spouting. Far too often, unfortunately, Republicans fall prey to this tactic. I think voters in this election showed that they are wiser than that. Hope Mitt remembers that.”
“I think an excellent place for Mitt to start would be to start trumpeting for the repeal of the Pacheco Law which has effectively (and brilliantly) snuffed out any hope of privatizing many state functions, thereby costing the Commonwealth millions per year. ...when you see The Globe running pieces on the extra costs incurred because of this law, one suspects it might not be a bad place for him to start. One could also apply the same logic to the Quinn Bill, which rewards police officers with exorbitant automatic raises when they ‘earn’ graduate degrees from diploma-mill colleges. BUT Tom Finneran -- who has always fought the extension of Quinn bill benefits to firefighters -- apparently cut a deal with the firemen's union: you get out front on that Clean Elections referendum and I'll get you Quinn benefits for your members. Well, at 71-29 (in favor of the Clean Elections funding question on Tuesday’s ballot), it looks like the jakes delivered, so I guess we'll see all the firemen heading back to ‘college’ - and towns and cities being bled for millions in raises to another public employees union.” (Note from Hub Blog: Forgot all about Tommy and the firefighters playing footsie on the Quinn/Clean Elections issue. Steve Bailey
caught ‘em in the act before the election.)
From "Suburban reader who voted for Jill Stein":
“In all the analysis about Phil Johnston's (or Dick Gephardt's or Tom Daschle's, for that matter) failed Democratic strategy we never hear a simple fact: maybe the Dems are just wrong, voters know it and THAT'S why the Repubs won. The baby boomers have grown up, and are starting to get gray and conservative... remember the comment that a man who is not a liberal at 20 has no heart; and that a man who is still a liberal at 40 has no brain. ... The calls for spend, spend, spend are falling on increasingly deaf ears - literally!” (From Hub Blog: So why the Jill Stein vote?)
: He’s already getting down to business
. And that includes reaching out to/talking with Tommy and the Trav
, the former precinct captain for Kevin White who sounds gracious as he sharpens the knives. Mitt can’t avoid it. He has to deal with these guys, as did Bill Weld twelve years ago.
Shannon in denial mode
: Shannon is blaming the GOP sweep across the country
for her loss here. That's right, gotta watch those Republican tides in Massachusetts. Well, at least she’s not bringing up the gender issue. Shannon might want to look at this story
about how and why she lost her Dem base. ... Margery Eagan
IS bringing up the gender issue -- and says it mattered on Tuesday. Obviously, it mattered to an extent. Some women blindly voted for Shannon because she was a woman. Some men blindly voted the opposite because she was a woman. They canceled each other out, in effect. But Margery is too smart to dwell on the issue: “My guess is that Shannon O'Brien's loss was about much more than gender. It was about another nightmare vision: of Beacon Hill turned to Baghdad, of a totalitarian, tax-crazed regime. It was about Democrats behaving badly, the kind of pervasive, holier-than-thou, non-Democrats-are-evil arrogance we saw in rhetoric here (if you voted against bilingual education, you're an immigrant-hater) and in Minnesota. Remember the memorial service-turned-rally for late Sen. Paul Wellstone?” ... Margery makes a good point about how Shannon got a bad rap on the abortion issue.
Taxes, a ‘new era’ and voters just don’t like those immigrants
: A front-page story in the Globe looks at the Question 1 vote
-- and finds it has changed the political dynamics in Massachusetts. ''The response to Question 1, with so many people saying they wanted to see an elimination of the income tax was, if you will, underlining the fact that people do not want to see taxes go up in Massachusetts, and they'd like to see them come down,'' said Romney, who opposed the measure but sure sounds like he understands (and appreciates) the benefits he’ll get from it. ... Joan Vennochi
, who appeared so shell-shocked yesterday, has angrily pulled out a blunderbuss and is firing off a round of rusty nails, glass, sharp-edged rocks and anything else she could stuff into the muzzle. Joan says we’re becoming “mean” like New Hampshire and that we’re indeed entering a “new era.” And count her among those with holier-than-thou rhetoric, as Margery Eagan referred to above. I.e., Joan: “Massachusetts voters don't like immigrants either; 68 percent voted to replace bilingual education with English immersion.” Yep, Joan, that’s what Question 2 was all about. We hate immigrants. You got us. We’re exposed as hate-filled New Hampshire types. Thanks, Joan. And Scot Lehigh
, shame on you ... Joan does acknowledge a certain, oh, concern voters might have had on Tuesday. “First of all, the voters don't like the arrogance, the immaturity, or the pettiness of the Massachusetts Democratic Party as it exists today. The nonsense in the state Legislature is a turnoff no matter what your political philosophy. There is no statesmanship, only gamesmanship. People are so busy avenging past slights they are incapable of working together to achieve common goals.” ... Immaturity. Love that word. The ultimate insult from a hectoring school teacher.
: Don’t put it beyond them. No, expect
them to try to gut the ‘anti-immigrant’ ballot question approved by voters on Tuesday, as this piece
and this piece
: Clint Eastwood
, in town for the shooting of “Mystic River,” knows a thing or two about politics, having served as mayor of Carmel, Calif., from 1986 to 1988. He says local pols should be less negative and focus on services: '' ‘The streets are a little on the raggedy side,’ he says. ‘I think a politician could make hay out of campaigning for better streets.’ (His own platform as mayor? ‘To make government less punitive to the people, to make things more accessible.’)” ... Is Clint calling us ‘negative’? Bostonians? New Englanders? I can't imagine where he got that impression.
‘Bloody Tuesday ... Liberal Nightmare’
: Seth Gitell has a typically astute analysis
of the gov’s race, including his observation that pocketbook-minded Independents decided the outcome. ... And Dan Kennedy
writes about the ‘Liberal Nightmare’ across the country. ... Lots of other interesting-looking election stories over at the Phoenix
Post-election Updates II
: Some quick notes and some observations from readers ...
... The Globe’s Brian Mooney
has a pretty good analysis piece, with the headline, “In tally, a rejection of one-party rule.” Hub Blog thinks Mitt’s election was indeed a conscious decision by many, if not most, of his supporters to block a Democratic sweep yesterday in Massachusetts. It’s pretty obvious. But, as I noted earlier today, I seriously underestimated the social issues that drove many voters, as this piece shows
. A lot of Dems appear to have abandoned the party, including lunch-bucket union members, over Shannon’s stands on abortion and gay marriages, according to a Globe survey of voters. (The Boston Phoenix’s Seth Gitell was way ahead of the pack in noting this trend before the election.) ... Another curious thing: Young voters (18-45) and those in the 56-65 age bracket broke for Mitt. Mitt did surprisingly well with other middle-age and senior voters. ... There was indeed a gender split: Men voted for Mitt 52.8 to 39.8; women for Shannon, 53-43.9, according to the survey. Another curious stat: Five percent of men voted for Jill Stein; only 1.7 percent of women voted for Stein. But this is only a survey. Clearly, any survey that doesn’t detect -- as this one didn’t appear to -- the obvious anti-tax backlash and ‘rejection of one-party rule’ has to be taken with a grain of salt. It all depends on the questions asked, how the questions are phrased, and how honest (gulp) people are when answering. ...
... Dan Kennedy
, meanwhile, is calling Question 1 an anti-tax backlash of sorts and, coupled with Mitt’s solid win, it gives Mitt a mandate, at least on taxes. ... Some observations from Bill Hobbs
on the Question 1 vote (via Instapundit
). We're indeed going to be talking about this one for a while, analyzing Question 1's results from every angle. Myself, I think Question 1's surprising support is part hard-core anti-tax sentiment; part protest vote; part signal to the boys on Beacon Hill not to push their luck; part spill-over sentiment from the bitter New Hampshire governor's race, in which the income-tax issue dominated and which Massachusetts voters heard a lot about over the TV and radio airwaves that the two states share; and part confusion (I was perplexed by the wording of the question and fumbled over which way to vote when I was in the booth; I quickly recovered). One thing is clear: The political establishment in Massachusetts will try to ignore and/or dismiss the vote, but it's there. It happened. They know it. ... The chairman of the Massachusetts Libertarian Party is taking me to task
over at Instapundit (scroll down a bit to find the letter) for not mentioning that the Libertarians were the ones who got Question 1 on the ballot in the first place. Fair enough. Should have mentioned that in the rush. But the huge vote for Question 1 can't be claimed as a Libertarian victory. The party's own gubernatorial candidate, Carla Howell, got only 1 percent of the vote in Massachusetts. There was a lot more mischief at play in the Question 1 vote. A lot more.
... What happens next for Mitt? Reader No. 1 has some advice: “Mitt and Massachusetts will be fine if he pulls out the old Reagan/Weld playbook and sticks firmly to 2 or 3 themes, playing the happy warrior. Mitt, keep in mind my prediction record, but a couple of suggestions for those themes: 1. We're going to solve the fiscal problem without raising taxes. 2. We're going to reward public employees who work hard and creatively to develop real solutions to our problems. 3. The quality of our lives will improve if we are successful on points #1 and #2.” Sounds good to me ... Speaking of Mitt’s future as governor, a reader from Brighton, besides congratulating Hub Blog on my pre-election prediction of a Mitt victory (he called it for Shannon), says Mitt’s headed for a tough fight with House Speaker Tom Finneran -- and Republicans can blame themselves. “We will see how Mitt Romney fares when he tries to ‘clean up the mess.’ Weld had enough state senators to sustain a veto for the first two years. Mitt does not. Plus the last twelve years were Republican patronage. And don't forget who are among Finneran's strongest supporters: the Republican house members. They voted for him for speaker and their leadership spoke in his favor when a movement to replace him started. Just to illustrate the point, yesterday I saw a friend of mine from grammar school, still lives in the neighborhood, giving rides to the polls for Romney. His employer? The Mass Turnpike Authority. Will his job be at risk? Not likely.”
Welcome to the New ‘Conservative’ Massachusetts
: OK, we won’t go that far, despite what Barney Frank said last night. Maybe it should read, ‘Welcome to the Less Liberal Massachusetts.’ That doesn’t sound right, either, even though I think it's partially true. OK, here it is, ‘Welcome to the Almost One-Party State of Massachusetts.” That definitely describes it.
What a night, eh? Mitt wins
(50 to 45 percent) -- and with the crucial support of classic, in-their-blood, Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye, All-Republicans-Are-Country-Club-Members Democrats. Question 1, the radical anti-income tax measure, loses (45-55) but does shockingly well. Question 2 wins huge (68-32), overthrowing the bilingual education system in Massachusetts. And state voters, in a non-binding referendum, say they don’t want to foot the bill for the do-gooder Clean Elections Law (74-26). All of which indicates: You stereotype Massachusetts voters at your peril. (Click here for full election results.
) However ... however, the Legislature remains
rock-solid, veto-proof Democrat. All our Congressional seats are held by Dems. As long as the Democratic machine controls the former and wields the power of the pen in redistricting, the former and the latter will stay in place in Massachusetts for a long time to come. ''We took on an entrenched machine and we won,'' a triumphant Romney declared last night. However, whether it’s Mitt or Jill Stein or whomever, the goal should be to start building a two-party or three-party state in Massachusetts. Think: 2010 census and subsequent redistricting. Otherwise, last night was merely a one-night wonder ...
... Hub Blog’s observations on the gubernatorial race? There was definitely an anti-Beacon Hill vote out there. Hub Blog talked to a number of people over the course of the past two weeks -- and a surprising number said they didn’t respect/like Mitt but wanted to block the official Insiders’ Choice Candidate, Shannon O’Brien. A lot of people weren’t voting for
Mitt Romney. They were voting against
Shannon O’Brien. ... Taxes played a big, last-minute role in yesterday’s voting. Shannon’s performance during the last debate -- in which she dodged questions about raising taxes -- hurt her. Question 1’s surprising showing proves, beyond a doubt, that taxes were on people’s minds. Period. ... Hub Blog clearly underestimated the conservative social-issue vote in Massachusetts. Shannon’s pro-choice and pro-gay marriages stands hurt her (though Hub Blog supported her on both issues). Voters in traditionally Democratic, heavily-Catholic regions apparently bolted from Dems yesterday. I didn’t see it coming. ... The candidacy of Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, was a complete dud. She wasn’t a spoiler. The numbers don’t add up. No excuses for Dems. ... There was some whining last night about Massachusetts not being “ready” for a female governor. Hub Blog isn’t buying it. If Shannon O’Brien’s name was Stevie O’Brien, Mitt would have romped. Indeed, if Shannon had been a man, she wouldn’t have won the Dem primary. The fact is Shannon O’Brien’s gender helped
her, but it wasn’t enough to overcome other factors. ....
How the local pundits saw it:
: The headline on her column this morning reads, ‘Voters simply didn’t like O’Brien.’ Duh. Joan hints at the ‘isn’t ready’ argument but backs off. Joan seems shell-shocked. Here’s her kicker quote: “Some of the dislike stemmed from O'Brien's inability to take a clear position and define what she stood for. Style played into her defeat, as well. O'Brien could not walk the line between toughness and grace that is essential for any woman who hopes to succeed in the public or the private sector.”
-- One of the best political pundits in the city looks at it from a tactical angle. Lehigh thinks the election turned in Mitt’s favor after he decided (or realized) his soft, feel-good campaign approach wasn’t working. After suddenly agreeing to more debates with O’Brien, Lehigh writes, “The campaign would shift from the self-reverential ads of a celebrity candidate
who seemed to expect a coronation to a tough issues message of a man determined to scrap for the job. And rather than rely on surrogates, Romney would deliver the campaign critique of O'Brien himself.”
-- Yes, as I noted above, there were other issues. But here’s Jeff’s kicker quote: “So why is Mitt Romney today the governor-elect of Massachusetts? Because Romney spent the last two weeks of the campaign driving home the dangers of a one-party state. And because O'Brien kneecapped herself in the last debate.”
-- He thinks it was partially about style over substance. He’s sort of in the ballpark when he acknowledges the misgivings many voters have towards the Dem machine, but, c’mon, Mitt didn’t win 'on his business record.' His kicker quote: “Like many a Democrat these days, O'Brien claimed to be a fighter for the people, but she never defined which people she was fighting for. Unable to define, unable to connect, unable to show how she would be independent of insular Beacon Hill politics, she became another Al Gore. ... Her collapse was magnified by the fact that Romney wanted the voter to believe how great he was, despite displaying many dangerous signs of insular behavior. Here is a man who won on his business record, despite refusing to be interviewed by the Globe on his business record.”
-- He’s brutal. Just brutal. “Let's face it. Shannon O'Brien's problem is -- was -- that she is as phony as a three-dollar bill. Voting for her was like voting for organized crime. Her wing of the Democratic party is organized crime, maybe not in the mob sense, but she runs with the political equivalent of gangsters.” And then there’s this observation on the Catholic/blue-collar vote: “You could see how this one was going to turn out from the children's polls (before the election). A substitute teacher in Quincy told me his middle-school class voted for Romney last week. Last night, a fourth-grader in Lowell told me her parochial school class had gone for Mitt. And then a mother of a kindergarten kid in Winthrop said the same thing. You've got to be a pretty wretched Democrat not to run up huge margins in Quincy, Lowell and Winthrop.”
BlogTheVote2002USA - Huh?:
Somehow Hub Blog ended up on Bill Quick’s Daily Pundit
list of blogs that will give updates throughout the day about the election in Massachusetts. I’m honored by the nomination, but I never agreed to do any such thing. Don’t know how I ended up on the list. Still, now that the gauntlet is thrown down, I’ll see what I can do. Make sure you check out PoliticaObscura
. He’s on a roll. Here’s my own sometimes silly (definitely lazy) contributions:
. -- Time for bed. But one last thing: The non-binding question asking whether the Clean Elections Law should be funded was voted down.
. -- Boston.com is declaring that Question 1 has been defeated, with 54 percent against and 46 percent for. Eighty-one percent of the vote counted. Defeated, yes. Message sent, definitely.
-- Ronald Reagan wins Massachusetts in '80 and '84. The last four gubernatorial races here have been won by Republicans (granted, not of the Rest of the Nation variety). A radical anti-income tax measure nearly wins tonight (and it's still not counted out as of now). President Bush has a surprisingly strong
approval rating here, especially after he rattles the old sword. But what does the rest of the nation still think of Massachusetts? McGovern, '72. Message to the country: Massachusetts IS more liberal than the rest of the country, but not nearly as liberal as people think. There's a Democratic machine here that most out-of-state observers just don't get -- nor appreciate in terms of the way it shapes politics here. Think: Cook County of the Daley era. The patronage. The nepotism. The one-party lock. That's Massachusetts. The Dems draw the legislative and Congressional maps here. That's why they control the legislature and all the Congressional seats here. But it doesn't necessarily reflect the mood here. Yes, again, Massachusetts is, without question, more liberal than the average state, but tonight's results show ... well, figure it out yourself. Now if we could only have a Republican party that could get its act together ... Hell, I and a lot of other people would even vote Green or French Socialist to get these clowns off our back.
11:09 p.m. -- The only thing of interest remaining is Question 1, the anti-income tax measure. With 57 percent of the vote in, it's losing 53-47 percent. It may not win. But is this Mitt's mandate? Does it at least hint at Mitt's mandate? Taxes. Shannon's performance in last Tuesday's debate. As they say, connect the dots. Her tax-dodging non-answer answers during the debate did her in.
10:59 p.m. -- Shannon's concession speech is pretty classy. She's covering all the bases. I think her running mate thinks he's the heir apparent. But Shannon sounds like she's buttering up the mayor, Teddy et gang for future support.
10:48 p.m. -- With 48 percent of the vote in, Question 1 is still losing, 53-47 percent. Still ... Amazing night in Massachusetts.
-- Shannon is working her way through the crowd to give her concession speech. NECN's official Dem analsyst (didn't catch her name) is still crying over how Massachusetts "isn't ready" for a woman governor. Gloria Larson, the GOP analyst, says Shannon was just "out of step" with the voters. Look at the Question 1 results so far. Gloria is right. Dead on. What does Question 1's surprising showing to date indicate to those who insist/insisted the gov's race was only about gender?
-- Boston.com: "Capitalizing on his reputation as an experienced manager who created jobs and rescued the Olympics, GOP businessman Mitt Romney handily defeated Democratic Treasurer Shannon O'Brien today to become the next governor of Massachusetts." My gambling instinct turned out right. Where do I buy a Lottery ticket?
-- Question 1 is now losing, 53-47 percent. Still, its support has been amazing. A true shocker. Again: Mitt, Question 1, Question 2. ... Already starting to hear the cry that Massachusetts "isn't ready" for a woman governor. They just don't get it. Scroll way down for Reader No. 1's prediction about the big "lie" that will be spun if Shannon doesn't win. This campaign wasn't about male vs. female. It was about a one-party state vs. blocking establishment of a one-party state.
-- NECN reporting that Mitt has received a phone call from Shannon conceding defeat. Finis!
-- Yikes! Question 1, the anti-income tax measure, is actually winning with 30 percent of the vote counted. Very close vote. Huge. HUGE!!! This is a HUGE unknown with this many votes counted. Hub Blog predicted about a 35 percent vote in favor. Incredible. Really early results. But, not to toot my own horn, Hub Blug did say taxes became a last-minute issue in this campaign, though I didn't come close to catching the anti-tax sentiment as reflected in Question 1's early returns. ... Question 2, the anti-bilingual measure, is winning big. Hmmmmmmm. Mitt. Question 1. Question 2. What does this say about the hyper-liberal Massachusetts stereotype? Bah!
-- NECN reporting that AP is "trending" toward calling Mitt a winner. Stein is doing awful. Spoiler? Looks like the GOP supporters of Stein decided against committing suicide. Doesn't matter. Doesn't look like, Stein or not, Shannon was/is going to win. No excuses. No spoiler. ... Listening to John Kerry giving his "victory" speech in the "conservative" Massachusetts. He's talking about Iraq, the war, the need to have allies in any war, the need for attacking the "causes" of terrorism. I.e. the first salvo in the presidential race has been fired from Kerry's pop-gun. Why is anyone at Kerry's "victory" celebration? Must be an open bar.
Big cities in Massachusetts still aren't reporting their numbers. Remember: Florida! But ...
-- NECN is blowing the other channels out of the water in terms of coverage. They just tuned into Mitt's campaign headquarters -- and victory is in the air there.
-- NECN analysts sound very pessimistic about Shannon, saying she's doing worse in traditional Dem regions than even Scott Harshbarger did four years ago. Meanwhile, Mitt's numbers are better than Paul C.'s four years ago. Mitt's doing it. And big.
-- About 25 percent of the vote in. Mitt ahead 53 percent to Shannon's 43 percent. Jill Stein, the Green candidate, is pulling in only 3 percent. I'm tempted to go to sleep soon. I think Mitt has it wrapped up.
-- Blogger.com is very slow tonight. Very slow. Just noticed a post I made a while ago wasn't posted.
-- Very, very early returns coming in showing Mitt running quite well. U.S. Rep. Barney 'I Don't Know' Frank, D, sounds very down on NECN. He's blaming the discipline of 'conservatives' in Massachusetts and across the nation for the early returns. Conservatives. In Massachusetts. Think about it. What planet is Barney living on? Again, only early returns. But those are Barney's words. ... Shocking news: the virtually unopposed John Kerry, D, is projected as a winner in the conservative Massachusetts.
. -- The polls are closed. NECN is projecting that Mitt is ahead with 1 measly percent of the vote in. Long night ahead! Storm Team Coverage will keep you informed (until my chicken starts to burn, at which point I have to bolt).
-- I just found out who nominated me for this job as an official member of 'BlogTheVote2002USA' election-coverage storm team. Here's his note:
"I Confess. I was the one who posted your link as a good place to keep an eye on today for Massachusetts political races. I had been reading your stuff leading up to election day. Good job."
Hub Blog's response: Oh, gosh. As I said, I didn't agree to this, but I'm secretly honored. BlogTheVote2002USA!
-- A reader from Harvard, who voted earlier today in Cambridge, inquired via email whether Boston has the same stupid non-binding ballot questions (they're apparently numbered differently in varying cities) as in Cambridge. Specifically: Shall the representative from this district be instructed to not vote for Thomas Finneran of Boston as Speaker of the House? and Do you favor full funding of the voter-approved Clean Elections measure? Answer: Yes. We had the same questions in Boston. And I voted 'yes' to the first question and 'no' to the second question. ... Now it's off to get a beer at my local tavern. I'm exhausted by all this BlogTheVote2002USA work.
4:35 p.m. -- A reader responds to Hub Blog’s earlier prediction of a Mitt victory
: A Brighton reader -- and a serious political junkie -- says Shannon O'Brien is going to win the governor’s race. "I was at the polls this morning and it was clear there are a lot of 40 and under women coming out and voting for her. The cities will go for O'Brien. Name one big city that Mitt will win? She has more appeal in the suburbs than Silber did, and Mitt does not have any of Cellucci's ethnic appeal. A Republican has not won without an Italian on the ticket since Frank Sargent in 1970, and he was an incumbent. The economy is on people's minds. Sargent attributed his 1974 loss to Dukakis to 'the price of hamburger.'"
Hub Blog's response to Brighton reader
: Good point about the 40 and under women coming out to vote for Shannon. At my downtown polling place in Boston this afternoon, I noticed the same thing: Lots of young women. I was scoping. They were voting. Didn't make the obvious political connection until now. Interesting.
Murphy vs. the Boston Herald
: Here’s a seemingly juicy story
in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly about the libel suit filed by Judge Ernest B. Murphy against the Boston Herald, centering on the Herald’s controversial February story about the light sentence handed down by the judge in a robbery/rape/statutory rape case. (And, yes, it was an apparently light sentence because Murphy simply didn’t want to send the accused to prison, when he had it within his power to do so, as Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly shows.) Without knowing much about the case, Hub Blog will gladly concede, for the sake of argument, the Herald’s handling of the story may not have been exemplary. OK, let’s go a few steps farther. It was hyped. It was risky. There were important omissions in the reporting. But was it libelous? Isn’t that what Murphy is arguing in his libel lawsuit-- that the Herald’s story was libelous? Apparently not. Murphy’s own lawyer is quoted in the story as saying: “That's why this case is so important ... The independence of the judiciary." Wrong. Back to ‘Go.’ Do not collect $200. You don’t bring libel suits in order to protect the “independence of the judiciary,” whatever that means in this context. In the end, it looks like Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly slightly hyped the intro to its story about a libel case over a hyped story. And it buried the lead: The plaintiff's attorney openly says the libel lawsuit is really about something else.
The Big Day, Big Turnout, Big Prediction
: As Hub Blog noted yesterday, voter turnout today is supposed to be very heavy. The Globe’s turnout story
had this observation: “A large turnout driven by independent voters, particularly men, would likely hurt O'Brien and help Romney: Polls show that he consistently holds a dominant edge among unenrolled voters.” Hub Blog said as much yesterday. But, upon reflection, that’s so ... so conventional wisdom. The Herald’s turnout story
had this nugget from Secretary of State William Galvin: “But the race appears to be so close, Galvin said, that it could even be decided by a growing subset of immigrant voters. ‘New Americans are a wild card in this election,’ he said.” Say what you will about the Prince of Darkness, Galvin has made remarkably accurate predictions in past elections about voter turnout and possible new wrinkles. Hub Blog still can’t forget the unexpected, huge, joyous celebrations that broke out in places like Framingham after Brazil won the World Cup earlier this year. Only then did a lot of people (including Hub Blog) learn that 300,000 Portuguese-speaking Brazilian immigrants now live in eastern Massachusetts. Could the gov’s race ultimately turn on Question 2, the bilingual/English immersion ballot question? The mere fact that everyone is slicing and dicing the turnout numbers merely shows how damn close this race is. And that leads me to ...
... Hub Blog’s Fearless Gubernatorial Prediction.
As I told Reader No. 1 yesterday, my prediction comes down to what my brain says and what my gambling instinct says. The brain says: O’Brien. The gambling instinct says: Romney. I’m going with my gambling instinct: Mitt will win
. (Keep in mind that, like Reader No. 1, I thought the Bills would crush the Pats on Sunday, but I still think it’s a good instinct.)
A quick explanation of what my ‘brain’ and ‘gambling instinct’ are saying:
A.) The Brain -- The numbers still heavily favor Dems in Massachusetts; the Dems are united for the first time since the mid-1980s; Shannon has run a relentlessly aggressive, Hillary-like campaign (indeed, she’s run one of the best campaigns I’ve seen in many moons); she has a clear gender advantage and will attract all those diehard female votes; the last two GOP governors have been monumentally inept and weak; the economy sucks.
B.) The Gambling Instinct -- Mitt has run a monumentally inept and weak campaign, reminding voters of Paul and Janey; he’s truly a Pleasantville alien who doesn’t fit in with the rest of us reserved, cynical New Englanders; the partisan voting rolls are stacked against him, etc. etc. But ... but he’s still in the race, despite all of O’Brien’s advantages and all of Mitt’s own obvious
failings as a candidate. What is going on? In a word: Disgust. Disgust with Beacon Hill, with taxes, with patronage, with the old boys' network running the state. The turning point, in my mind, was last Tuesday’s debate, in which I thought both candidates acquitted themselves quite well. But I was later rather surprised to hear the number of bitter, almost nasty, comments about Shannon’s performance and her tax-dodging non-answers to Tim Russert -- and the old ‘brain’ started having doubts and the ‘gambling instinct’ became more bold. Then news came of a likely huge turnout and ...
The one caveat to my Mitt prediction is Galvin’s observation: ‘New Americans are a wild card in this election.’ I think Galvin’s on to something here, something thrown in at the last minute. I was more sure of my gambling instinct last night. Now I’m less sure. But I’m sticking with it: Mitt wins.
A parting shot
: One last pre-election column from Margery Eagan
. Hilarious stuff.
Election, down to the wire
: Some late negative advertising
in an extremely tight, hard-fought race, followed by a typical bemoaning of negative campaigning
, although the Herald says the close race and TV advertising (i.e. negative campaigning) could lead to a higher voter turnout tomorrow
. ... The headline
on this column says it all. ... And that's about all. I’m keeping the election blogging light today. It appears the Globe and Herald are doing the same. Tomorrow: Daring Hub Blog predictions. And, if we’re lucky, maybe Reader No. 1 will jump into the political craps game. (That's a hint, Reader No. 1.) ...
... This just in: A prediction of a 70 percent turnout tomorrow
. Seventy percent. If it's 60 percent, I'll be impressed. But 70 percent? So much for all the boring, lame laments about how the campaign is turning off voters. To the contrary. The gubernatorial race is a classic. And there's a recession and a war under way. My suspicion is this bodes well for Mitt. It indicates a lot of Independent voters are restless -- and they usually become agitated over pocketbook issues. But are they agitated over the economy or taxes? Hub Blog thinks it's the latter, for taxes are something state government can control. Shannon would benefit from a lower turnout, when hard-core Dems' organizational muscle makes a real difference. We'll see. Only hunches.
: Some quick political comments from Hub Blog readers ...
1.) Received this email this morning from a Back Bay resident:
“I am not very politically active, but I thought this was a grassroots effort worth taking on. If you agree with my opinion, please pass this on to other Suffolk County voters that you know. One of the greatest problems in Massachusetts's politics is patronage. It's particularly dangerous when it takes place in the District Attorney's office. The legal system in our state is best served when the DA's office is represented by the most qualified people for the job. Acting DA Dan Conley has been on the job for nine months. During that time 12 Assistant DAs have quit or been fired because of politics. Political operatives are replacing career professionals.
“There is a better choice: Bill Sinnott is the Independent candidate for District Attorney. He’s been: a Career Prosecutor (1985 - 2001); Assistant District Attorney; Assistant United States Attorney; Constitutional and Criminal Law Instructor; Marine Corps Veteran of 25 years; Leader of Boston Latin School parent council; Graduate of Holy Cross; Suffolk Law School.
“Let's go vote.”
Note from Hub Blog: Bill Sinnott is a close friend. He's good. He's honorable. Let's go vote indeed. P.S. Just got home from doing some errands. In my apartment building, a volunteer for Eddie Jenkins, also running for Suffolk County DA, had just left off a stack of campaign materials for Eddie, who's really out there hustling. I'm voting for Bill, but Jenkins sounds great, too. The DA race is definitely getting interesting
2.) Reader No. 1 is hesitant to make predictions about tomorrow's gov race, considering how he picked the Bills to beat the Pats yesterday. Still, here's some of his general comments:
" -- Lie we will hear if Romney wins: Massachusetts wasn't ready to elect a woman governor. This will probably be the national story if events come to pass (I can hear Nina Tottenberg talking about it now), despite the likely fact that, win or lose, Romney won't break 50 percent of the electorate.
"-- Lie we will hear if O'Brien wins: A new era of cooperation on Beacon Hill. Make no mistake: there will be a tremendous battle at the State House with Speaker Finnegan no matter who wins. The difference: a Romney win will mean the battle is about policies and priorities. An O'Brien win will mean the battle is about turf and who wears the Daddy Pants in state government.
"Best columnists during the campaign:
"1. Brian McGrory. Funny, fair, acutely accurate, and he put shoe leather into the job.
"2. Margery Eagan. Why isn't she a national writer?
"3. Scott Lehigh. The only columnist with a sense of even recent history (eg he understood what was different about Weld's election and how that was relevant to the present decision)."
Anti-war protests and the prez
: So 15,000 people
turned out for yesterday’s peace rally on Boston Common. OK. But to understand the real mood of Massachusetts, look at the numbers here
Forgive, yes; forget, no:
Why? Why did it take so long for Cardinal Law
to admit he was wrong and to ask for our forgiveness? Why now? He deserves forgiveness. But never forget: These guys are isolated old men who will always put the interests of their
institution over everything else. The survival of their
church is paramount. We now know this. This is the tragic lesson of this scandal. Nothing else to say. What else can be said?
Is Jill Stein still a factor?:
What’s up with Green Party candidate Jill Stein? Hub Blog thought her candidacy had run out of steam. Obviously, the big Dem guns
think otherwise and they’re pounding away at her, bringing out Ted Kennedy, Mayor Menino, Barney Frank etc. to warn the faithful not to abandon Shannon on Tuesday in favor of Stein. Meanwhile, the Globe explores the ‘spoiler’ angle
and reveals (I think) new information about how Stein is faring. The Globe released a poll yesterday
showing Stein with 5 percent of the vote. Not all that impressive, especially when you consider the looney Barbara Johnson is getting 4 percent of the vote. But today’s ‘spoiler’ story mentions that Stein ‘appears to be gaining ground,’ with 7 percent of the vote, based on a poll conducted Thursday and Friday. Huh? It’s tough to sort it out, but clearly something’s happening that’s scaring the O’Brien campaign. Her numbers with women are slipping. The race is tightening. She launches a blistering, NOW-inspired ‘unbecoming’ gender assault the day after the Tuesday debate. And now they’re openly waging war on Stein. The Herald’s Tom Keane
, meanwhile, has some good observations on why Dems don’t have a compelling reason for abandoning Shannon. Again, there's that subject about Dem defections ...
... Along the same lines, Mary McGrory
has a very, very interesting column in this morning’s Globe (with a headline that doesn’t convey the bad news McGrory sends about Shannon). Here’s Mary: “In the last debate of her campaign, the state treasurer didn't seem to appreciate her luck (of having a unified Dem party). She played to her sisterhood rather than to her ethnic base, having in mind NOW rather than the Knights of Columbus.” And here’s Mary’s conclusion: “O'Brien's lead among women, which was once at 18 points, had shrunk to 8. She could still win, but if she doesn't, she won't be able to blame the for once unified Massachusetts Democrats.” It’s always fun to read a national pundit’s take on a local election/issue. They’re usually either right on target (outsiders can often sort through the bull quickly) or wildly ill informed. In today’s column, McGrory sounds a bit out of it when she keeps emphasizing the Boston Irish stereotype, but overall she’s on the mark.
Reader No. 1 responds
: This is why I love quoting the evil Reader No. 1:
"You were way too kind on Mary McGrory for her daffy column yesterday. Her semi-cogent observations were overwhelmed by her Camelot-era political frame of reference. Memo to Mary: James Michael Curley isn't the Mayor of Boston anymore. Somebody give Mary her gold watch before she compares the last days of the 2002 campaign to the West Virginia primary in 1960."
Bill Sinnot, superstar
: Joe Fitzgerald pushes aside the gov hype and takes a look at two obscure candidates running for Suffolk County district attorney, Bill Sinnott and Eddie Jenkins
. Hub Blog personally knows Billy Sinnott, a close friend and all-around great guy. He’s as honorable as he comes across in the column. And so I assume Fitz is right about Eddie Jenkins, too. Vote for either one of these guys. They’ve both earned it. ...
Bush’s poll numbers
: The Globe reports the prez has a solid approval rating
here in Massachusetts, largely because of his tough stance on Iraq. Go figure.
Mitt and Medicaid
: A reader just sent me a quick note asking why I wasn't covering the Romney/Medicaid spat like I did the 'unbecoming' spat. Fair question. In my defense: 1.) I initially assumed he was telling the truth 2.) I haven't ignored it (see election items below, as well as a reference I made to it on Thursday about it being a legitimate issue in the post-debate climate 3.) I don't get paid for this -- and certainly don't get paid to be painstakingly fair 4.) I want Shannon to lose. (How's that for honesty?) Still, the question and guilt gnaw, and the best I can say is this: The Medicaid controversy/lie (yes, Mitt lied) was grossly underplayed (except by Cosmo Macero
and Dan Kennedy
) and should have been pursued more aggressively by the media. The 'unbecoming' controversy/lie (yes, it too was a lie) was grossly overplayed and should have been pursued less aggressively by the media. Cosmo and Dan covered one lie, and I covered the other. Mitt is wrong, but so is Shannon for manufacturing an issue (i.e. the 'unbecoming' lie) that she knows wasn't true. Bottom line: Mitt got banged over the head for the wrong lie.
Changes at the American Prospect
: Big, big changes at the Boston-based American Prospect
. Dan Kennedy has the scoop
and lots of other details. Mickey Kaus
has been all over this issue for months, and he acknowledges Dan’s muscling onto his TAP turf. Thoughts on the change? Ben Taylor is an experienced editor and publisher. His appointment certainly can’t hurt. The liberal magazine is just plain boring and predictable. It needs to be jazzed up. And it needs stability, financially and editorially. Getting rid of Robert Kuttner or reducing his role at the mag wouldn't hurt either.
Polls and the end of ‘unbecoming’
: The ‘unbecoming’ non-issue issue is slipping into oblivion, where it belongs. Instead, we have new poll numbers
. According to a new Globe/WBZ poll, the election is a virtual tie (still), with O’Brien receiving 41 percent support and Romney 40 percent, with only 5 percent undecided. A Globe/WBZ poll in late September had O'Brien leading with 42 percent and 36 percent for Romney. Some important details in the numbers: O’Brien’s support among women is slipping (thus explaining the ‘unbecoming’ offensive); taxes are becoming more of an issue (thus helping Mitt); the economy remains a huge issue, and O’Brien still holds an edge in this category. ... Other interesting numbers: Green Party nominee Jill Stein drew 5 percent of those surveyed. That’s it. Her numbers aren’t budging. But what’s really odd is that the kooky Independent candidate, Barbara Johnson, received 4 percent. Huh? I suppose we’ve just stumbled upon a previously undetected Jesse Ventura bloc in Massachusetts. Libertarian Carla Howell is at 3 percent ...
... Other election tidbits: Both the Globe
are playing up Mitt’s attack on the Beacon Hill ‘machine.’ That’s the official ping-pong spin of the day, with yesterday’s being the ‘unbecoming’ spin. An observation on the Beacon Hill Machine approach: It’s a little too late for Mitt to be tying Shannon to the boys on Beacon Hill. The voters already get it. What he should be doing (and he is, to an extent) is hammering away at taxes. Taxes, taxes, taxes. ... Brian McGrory
takes a great hit at the ‘unbecoming’ story, concludes it’s weird and asks Scotty to beam him up. He then moves on to Ted Kennedy’s role in supporting Kevin Callahan in the Cape Cod district attorney’s race. Callahan’s credentials? He’s Ted’s former driver and advance man. ... Steve Bailey
weighs in on the gubernatorial race, but in a most interesting way, tying together the antics of the state’s firefighters union, their seemingly odd opposition to the Clean Elections Law, Tom Finneran and Shannon O’Brien. Read until the last paragraph. ... Cosmo Macero
is raking Mitt over the coals (justifiably) for his Medicaid inaccuracies, which, as Cosmo bluntly puts it, exposes Mitt as a major-league fibber. The Phoenix’s Dan Kennedy
has been having a field day with Mitt’s Medicaid claims and non-claims ...
The bilingual debate
: After sitting on the fence on this one, Hub Blog has decided to vote for Question 2
, the anti-bilingual education bill. (I’m sure my pronouncement will profoundly shock you and sway a lot of votes.) The clincher for me was reading Scot Lehigh’s column this morning, in which he presents the ‘evidence’ of why the English-immersion method of teaching children is better. Lehigh talked with a former foe of English immersion in California, and this is the teacher/activist’s latest view after bilingual education was replaced in California with English immersion: ''I have actually become a convert to English immersion. ... It works better, it is easier on kids, and it gets them into the mainstream faster.'' ... Isn’t that the point? To help the kids? Hub Blog is sympathetic to bilingual education. I’ve spent extensive time in Haiti and Africa, where children are raised at home speaking one language but then they’re thrust into an education system in which they have to learn their lessons in a second language (such as French or English). It doesn’t work well. But Africa, in particular, is a fractured continent in terms of its many languages. There’s often no dominating native language to be ‘immersed’ in within various countries, and so they fall back on a neutral, unifying language, often one dating from their colonial era. It’s logical because there are no other alternatives, but it still doesn’t work well. But the United States does have a dominant language, English, and it does have an alternative to bilingual education, English immersion. If bilingual education was the only alternative (and it was the only viable alternative for years in many places), I’d say: ‘For God’s sake, keep it. Let the kids get an education in their native language.’ But it’s not the only viable alternative today, and so ...
The Globe and rent control
: The Globe is calling for changes to -- but not outright rejection of -- Mayor Menino’s proposed rent-control legislation
, which he and the Globe refer to as the ‘rent stabilization bill.’ Well, at least the Globe recognizes the huge flaws in Menino’s plan. Some of the newspaper’s proposed changes are logical, in the sense that they water down the worst aspects of Menino’s plan. But the Globe doesn’t fully answer this question: At what point do rent controls discourage developers from building new housing units? If developers OK some sort of fair (and not imposed) compromise that they feel will still make it profitable for them to build new units, fine. I’d support a compromise. I'm against price gouging, too, though apartment/condo rental prices ultimately are linked to and track the market prices for buying and selling homes/housing units in general. What's to be done there? Impose price caps on the sale of homes? Which gets back to the housing shortage. Remember: The private sector is the only sector building housing these days. The feds aren’t. The state isn’t. As they say, don’t kill the goose laying the golden eggs.
: So much for the Celts picking up where they left off last season. Last night’s game
was their worst regular season loss in franchise history. Yes, the Gaston crew decimated last year’s team, largely because of the new NBA luxury tax and Gaston’s refusal to put up with it for one year. But last night was still absurd. OK, the season is young. Yet you can’t avoid the feeling the Celts are yet another promising Boston team that’s going to disappoint (following the Sox and this year’s Pats). ... Here’s some good news
for those of you who like traditional high-school athletics.
'This is a crime':
Well, not yet. But Hub Blog just watched NECN, as Mitt's running mate ('This is a crime') and NOW's attack dog argue whether the 'unbecoming' word is really an issue. This is becoming surreal. Truly surreal. This is about SPIN -- Shannon O'Brien never, ever, once mentioned in the debate that she thought the word 'unbecoming' was offensive. The fact Shannon O'Brien didn't make the word 'unbecoming' an issue during the debate
either indicates she was a coward for not saying so or a complete dunce. But, of course, she is neither ... but now ... but now ... we're supposed to honestly, as intelligent human beings, believe this is an issue just because the partisan NOW, Hillary and paid consultants huddle together and say, "We have got to do something radical to salvage this debacle," and then emerge to announce that the word 'unbecoming' is suddenly anti-women. The media is acting like a chicken with its head cut off. If this is 'objective' (a lot of people would call it ping-pong journalism), then I give up on objectivity. I truly do. This is nothing but World Wrestling Federation journalism (i.e. "In this corner ... And in this corner...!!!”)
: Writing this morning, Friday, Nov. 1, I see the ‘unbecoming’ issue has all but disappeared. The spinning ping-pong ball is now on Mitt’s Beacon-Hill-Mess side of the table. See election items above.
: Hub Blog had to blink a few times when I read how Shannon, Hillary et gang were seizing on the word ‘unbecoming’ as a campaign issue following Tuesday’s debate. Of all the things brought up in the debate -- Shannon’s tax dodging, Mitt’s inaccuracies on Medicaid reimbursements, Shannon’s tattoo, Mitt’s non-defense of Bill Weld -- Mitt’s use of the word ‘unbecoming’ initially didn’t even register a minus-one on the controversy scale. Not in post-debate analysis. Not in any morning-after coverage. Not on weblogs. Nowhere was Mitt’s use of the word ‘unbecoming’ in the debate mentioned as some sort of insult to women. But then Hillary Clinton flies into town, attempting to shore up (or scare) the Defend the Sisterhood vote, and suddenly we learn Mitt’s use of ‘unbecoming’ to describe Shannon was really a never-before-known code word to put women down. At least the Herald
called it for what it was -- ‘O’Brien plays gender card,’ read the headline on this morning’s story. The Globe
treated it a tad more seriously -- ‘Camps spar over Romney word.’ Here’s an excerpt from the Globe story: “That single word opened a new front in the campaign as O'Brien's supporters seized upon it to reintroduce the question of gender in the final days of the race.” Actually, that sentence is missing an adjective, for it should have read ‘opened a new SPIN front.’ And that’s all it is: a spin. You know, a deliberate partisan attempt to influence media coverage by describing events in a way partisan proponents want the public to see it, regardless of whether it’s true or not. Got to hand it to Shannon: She typically went on the offensive yesterday, slashing and attacking. Mitt? He’s on the defensive -- again -- this time over a word that 99.9999 percent of the viewers of Tuesday’s debate didn’t notice nor associate with ‘gender’ politics. Amazing.
Other election tidbits
: Joan Vennochi
seems to be taking a swipe at Eileen McNamara and other liberal suburbanites
who are swooning over one of their own, Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Here’s Joan: “As cozy as a mug of warm vanilla chai, Stein is the quintessential suburban professional mom: articulate, committed, darting from soccer game to neighborhood traffic control meeting, somehow carving out time to express concern about the downtrodden, chemical additives, and global warming - and not necessarily in that order.” Joan’s column is on the mark on a lot of points but she did get one thing wrong: A vote for Stein isn’t necessarily a vote for Romeny because polls are showing that many Republicans like her too. ...
... A reader from Lexington (Jill Stein’s headquarters in her fight for the downtrodden) writes: “Jill Stein is not getting the play one might expect out here in her home town, giving short shrift to your calculation that she may hurt Shannon on Tuesday. ... I personally don't think she will be another Ralph Nader, scarfing the 5-7% of the vote that would put Mitt over the top. I think -- as do others -- that if Jill had stayed ‘greener’ and stuck to the expected issues of a green party candidate, she would have walked away with 8-10% of the overall vote and a significantly higher percentage of the prized.” All excellent points which I’m beginning to agree with, but then ... then you see the ‘unbecoming’ tactics of Shannon and you have to wonder what her campaign’s internal polls are showing. The ‘unbecoming’ issue is clearly aimed at shoring up her (dwindling?) female vote. ...
.... The Herald has endorsed Mitt
, for what it’s worth. ... Wayne Woodlief
says Shannon’s abortion stand -- and showing off her tattoo -- may end up hurting her. I don’t know about that. I kind of wanted to see her tattoo. ... Margery Eagan
has yet more classic lines about both Shannon and Mitt.
'Supplemental second stage submission requirements’
: So the Boston Redevelopment Authority has changed the requirements, once again, for the proposed controversial development near Chinatown
, calling it “supplemental second stage submission requirements,” i.e. the predictable “Don’t You Ever Criticize the Administration Again in Public'' Amendment, apparently aimed at a developer who dared to criticize the mayor’s office
for dragging its feet on the project. City Council President Michael F. Flaherty is livid: ''It's outrageous that it has taken over 15 months for the BRA to make a decision,'' he was quoted in the Globe this morning. ''We need a defined start and a defined finish for the process in this city.'' But here’s Flaherty's real kicker line: ''Because the city waits so long (to approve apartment and condo projects), we now have to take up issues like rent control.” ... Yes! Someone is finally connecting the dots over at City Hall. This administration has a chance to OK a project that could lead to construction of up to 450-500 new housing units (at the development site itself and through linkage money), and what’s it doing? It’s greasing the deal for Millennium Partners Boston, which doesn’t want an apartment-building competitor across the street from its new Millennium Towers. Think about it: The administration, which is now pushing rent control, could have more housing AND introduce housing competition, both of which would help ease the housing crunch and lower rents. ... An ink-stained wag who’s familiar with the issue has told Hub Blog the administration will probably change the zoning at the site to exclude residential development, which, the wag noted, will mean the site will remain a surface parking lot for the next ten years. And make Millennium very happy.
'Cleaning the mess on Beacon Hill':
A reader from Brighton, who's no big fan of Shannon, writes this about why Mitt's repeated calls to 'clean up the mess' and 'cut waste' on Beacon Hill ring hollow, though it may be a laudable goal:
"Just a note on the political culture here in Massachusetts. The last governor who really tried to upend the patronage system on Beacon Hill was Michael Dukakis in his first term. His campaign manager got a handshake and a thank you, but was refused a job. Dukakis tried to get rid of the Governor's Council, and failed. The legislative leadership hated him. The liberals were angry because he cut services and bailed on him, supporting Barbara Ackerman in the 1978 primary. The conservatives were angry because he raised taxes. The state police were giving out 'Dump the Duke' bumperstickers at some of their stations on the Pike, they were angry over their pay and lack of overtime. Car repair dealers went after him because of proposals to crack down on unneccessary repairs. One special interest group after another had it out for him. The result was that he lost in the 1978 primary to Ed King. Once he got in again after the 1982 election, he had learned his lesson and did not attempt any of this the second time around."
Hmmmmm. I could say, 'Well, there's always hope,' but I fear he's right.
Reader No. 1 responds
: To add to the reader from Brighton's accurate recollections of the Golden Age of Reform ... Scot Lehigh's comments
this morning on how Weld changed the Beacon Hill mindset a decade ago were right-on. Romney surely knows this, but is apparently afraid to talk about it. (Shannon probably will never understand this point because she has accepted the State-House-centric view of the world as fixed and immovable.) Of course, the Weld-Cellucci administration also helped bequeath two calamities which are major factors in the current political environment:
1. The infamous post-1994-reelection legislative payraise deal between Weld and Bulger. It signalled that it was safe again to head to the trough.
2. The Big Dig -- By the time the financial dimensions were officially acknowledged, it was far too late to do anything about it. ("Blowing the whistle on the Big Dig" most emphatically does not mean eliminating union construction jobs. ...)
: I don't know why, but I found this article strangely inspiring
. There was a problem. The students, who just wanted to learn, complained about the quality of the course. The teacher agreed with some of their complaints. The administration looked into it and agreed with the students. So they replaced the teacher in mid-semester, allowing the teacher time to get better organized. Issue resolved. Move on. No unions. No lawsuits. No grudges. Everyone just being honest
. Hey, this isn't supposed to happen in 2002 America. ... And here's an even more inspiring piece
). Is there something in the water?
A reader responds
: Steve of Somerville writes that maybe the teacher shouldn't have been in the classroom in the first place, "which doesn't make it a very 'inspiring story' if you ask me." Point well taken. But he has taught at Harvard for a while, in smaller settings, and indicated he was just overwhelmed by the change to a larger class. He also sounds like a good guy. But the point is this: Everyone seemed to be honest and reasonable when it came to resolving the issue. The students, who pay a lot of money for a quality education, also stood up for better classes. All in all, I still find the story somehow refreshing.
: I'm getting slaughtered on this. Another reader writes, "He (the instructor) was giving the WRONG answers to students. Hello?" And Steve of Somerville responds to my response to his response: "Universities charge obscene amounts for tuition and students get this?" ... OK, I'm sounding a full retreat on this one. You try to be sentimental, and look at the grief you get. It's back to being snide!
The great debate
: Personally, I thought it was a great gubernatorial debate last night: Tense, dramatic, at times professional and passionate, one of the better political debates I’ve seen in a long time. Who won? Hub Blog thinks Mitt pulled it off, barely. For the first time in the campaign, he looked assertive, comfortable, even eloquent, leaving one thinking: Where has this
candidate been all these months? But I say he “barely” won because I thought Shannon did well, too. Sure, she was on the defensive on taxes and dodged more than a few questions, but she was typically deft and aggressive. She neutralized Mitt a couple of times with swift counter strikes. But it’s always rather silly to say “so and so” won, for we all filter opinions through our own prejudiced prisms. Still, I thought my observations were somewhat on the mark when I read this piece by the Globe’s Yvonne Abraham, who watched the debate with some undecided voters in Marlborough
. These voters were almost furious at Shannon for not answering the question, posed by Mitt, about whether she would raise taxes if elected. Then I read this piece
in the Herald about another focus group, and they thought Shannon had won. Who’s to know? Yet, I suspect the tax-dodging by Shannon will quietly hurt her. Never underestimate the power of pocketbook issues to sway voters, particularly in the middle of a recession.
Other debate tidbits: The Washington Post’s David Broder
wrote one truly boring piece on the debate. But he did (typically) have some fascinating non-debate news: Apparently both candidates’ internal polls show Mitt winning, as opposed to two recent outside polls showing Shannon winning. ... Wasn’t Tim Russert great as moderator? ... Hub Blog noticed an interesting contrast in today’s coverage by the Globe: The beat reporters actually covering the debate tended to think it was a somewhat civil, substance-filled confrontation, as reflected in this story
and in this story by Mark Jurkowitz
. But the oped writers were, well, somewhat cynical. Here are the Globe’s editorial
, Joan Vennochi’s
view, Scot Lehigh’s
, and Derrick Jackson’s
. Don’t know what it means, but the contrast kind of stood out. ... The Phoenix's Dan Kennedy
gives the nod to Mitt and has a lot of other interesting observations about the debate. (He wasn't as impressed with the candidates' peformance as I was.)
Rents stabilizing in Hub
: A new report on how rents are beginning to stabilize
in Great Boston. One has to wonder about the timing of this report, coming so soon after Mayor Menino’s call for a return to rent control. But Hub Blog has been hearing the same thing from Realtors across the area: Landlords are waiting longer to rent apartments, and they’re often throwing in choice incentives to nail down deals. The Boston Business Journal and Banker & Tradesman have been reporting the same trend for a number of weeks now.
Segregation in Boston
: Cosmo Macero
writes one of the more depressing (and sadly accurate) stories about Boston I’ve seen in a while. We really do have a long way to go to make the Hub a more comfortable place for African Americans, in general, and middle-class African American professionals, in particular, to live and work. Cosmo bases his column on a story about to run in an upcoming issue of Boston magazine. Too bad Boston magazine doesn’t put its stories online. What idiots. ... Along the same line, did you see the “60 Minutes” piece on Sunday night about how professional African Americans in the North are beginning to return to the South to live and work? Why? Because their job prospects are better there and they can actually buy homes in safe, predominantly black middle-class neighborhoods. Good for them. ... One last point on this issue: Hub Blog once knew a local bar owner who noticed she was starting to get a lot of African-American customers, mostly young professionals, on a usually slow weekend night. So, sensing a good business opportunity, she started putting out free food, offering special drink prices, playing music appealing to African Americans -- and her business boomed. She was happy. Her customers were happy. What happened? Someone complained, and all of a sudden the cops
started harassing her and her customers on those nights. The tavern owner, who is white and a good friend, begged me not to do the story, which I couldn’t do anyway without her cooperation. She was sickened by the blatant racism. She ended up losing her new customers. And that’s what a lot of blacks are routinely up against here and elsewhere “down North.”
Ninety Nine, gone
: Not as bad as the sale of Spags or the demise of, say, Lechmere stores, but another regional tradition (sort of) is being sold off
. The Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pubs were never all that good. There’s nothing sentimental and memorable about them, in terms of cuisine and decor. But for some strange reason they were always in the news, or making news, for all the wrong reasons -- shootings, conversations being wiretapped, a great place to go to chum for nasty local gossip, i.e. “Did you hear anything else about Donna and that married high-school math teacher? I heard about them the other night at Ninety Nine.”
Steve Bailey, blogger?:
A nifty roundup
of business tidbits by Steve Bailey, who shows he may indeed have the knack to be a blogger.
Polls, polls, polls:
Interesting numbers streaming in from all directions. The ones that hit Hub Blog right come from the Herald, which this morning is reporting that Shannon O’Brien is slowly opening a gap
between herself and Mitt Romney. Shannon leads 44-38 margin, with an 8-point margin of error, according to the Herald. But a poll taken by Harvard's Institute of Politics and New England Cable News over the weekend shows the race a virtual dead heat, with O'Brien getting 41 percent and Romney 39. Split the difference, and you still have a close race, with Shannon clinging in front. The Herald says 12 percent of the electorate is still undecided.
But what really interested Hub Blog were the numbers for the third-party (and fourth-party and no-party) candidates. In particular, Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate who many (including Hub Blog) have predicted could be a spoiler in the race, is pulling in 4 to 5 percent in both polls. Those aren’t impressive numbers. And they’re positively disappointing for Mitt because the Herald gives a few extra details to Stein’s numbers: 5 percent of Democrats supported Stein, 4 percent Republican and 3 percent independents. Four percent of GOP voters are backing Stein? Upon reflection, it makes sense, since Massachusetts’ Republicans are among the most liberal Republicans in the nation. Unless the numbers are wrong or unless Stein picks up some of the undecided votes, her candidacy will be a wash. Hub Blog still suspects a lot of levers will be pulled in her favor come next Tuesday, but numbers are numbers.
Other poll numbers
: Question 1, the anti-income tax measure, is getting trounced, 27-59 percent, according to the Herald. About 14 percent are still undecided. Hub Blog thinks the measure will pull in around 35 percent. Question 2, the anti-bilingual education measure, is sailing toward victory, with 63 percent in favor and 28 percent against. Another example of the allegedly hyper-liberal Massachusetts electorate throwing a curve ball at national conventional wisdom.
Reader No. 1 responds to Jill Stein observations
: While driving to work this morning the thought crossed that Jill Stein might pull as many Romney votes as from O'Brien, and I wish I had thought of it sooner. My perspective is less the Rockefeller Republican phenomenon and draws more on the analysis of "Ideopolis" (Judis/Texeria) and "Bourgeois Bohemians" (David Brooks). Dr. Stein is not just a liberal, she's an educated professional
. So is Mitt... that's one source of his (limited) appeal.