Friday, October 06, 2006
What the hell is David Broder talking about?
In another of Broder's series hailing politicians that are "independent" and/or "centrists", he's decided this week to write
about Deval Patrick, an African-American running as a Democrat for governor of Massachusetts. Here is everything
Broder has to say about the man:
Interesting biography. But what of Deval Patrick today? All that Broder tells you about him is that he: (emp add)
- Reared in the slums of South Side Chicago by a single mother at times on welfare
- receive[d] a scholarship to attend Milton Academy, a prestigious boarding school in Milton, Mass.
- went to Harvard, where he graduated in 1978
- [also attended] Harvard Law School.
- Three years as a staff attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund
- a partnership at a Boston law firm
- head[ed] the Justice Department's civil rights division
- vice president and general counsel of Texaco Inc.
- executive vice president and general counsel of Coca-Cola Co.
- electrified the Democratic state convention in Worcester in June with a speech decrying cynicism as a drug ...
- ask[ed] delegates to "take a chance on me" because "I have built bridges across more differences and helped solve more problems in more varied settings than any other candidate in this race, from either party."
- is riding that momentum in a campaign that is notably nonpartisan in tone and studiedly vague on some issues.
- has staked his chances on resisting [his opponent's] call for a rollback in income tax rates
With the exception of that last item, opposing a reduction in income tax rates, Broder doesn't mention any policies Deval Patrick is advocating.
Maybe Patrick has been mum and there are none to report (which Broder hints at). Whatever the case, it's absurd for Broder to be feting a candidate who is so opaque. The imbalance in Broder's report between hefty portions of biography and lean servings of policy is striking. You might conclude that for Broder, policies are of little import, and what's more important is whether the candidate talks of moderation ("compassionate conservative" and "uniter not a divider" anyone?). Supporting that kind of slogan-driven politics gets you George Bush. It's not in the nation's interest.
What Broder is doing here is lazy journalism.
Patrick's policies are pretty locally oriented, but he got a lot of love here in the primary, and he's looking good for the general election.
Specifically, he's been against the recently proposed transit fare hikes (on the order of 40%, scandalously high), reducing the income tax rate from 5.2% to 5.0% (he wants to pay off some bond issues (one way to stop the fare hike), and we may end up needing that money to cover unanticipated expenses as a result of the universal healthcare initiative and some new proposed extensions of health related programs that Patrick has).
He wants to increase centralized funding of schools and emergency services which would reduce local property taxes (this has been a big issue). He's also talked about changing the planning/budgeting for schools from one year to two year processes. In the commonwealth, you need to pass an override to your city budget if your services are going to increase over a certain limit (2.5%). THis means that EVERY YEAR schools have to come back to the voters to beg for money to pay teachers etc, just based on inflation.
ADA compliance is an issue. Many parts of the state are not yet fully ADA compliant, and that has to be dealt with (not so much state offices, but particularly in Boston curbs, things like that).
Negotiated purchase of prescription drugs by the state, extensions to LTC, in home care, freezes on property taxes for elders.
He's a strong backer of the wind farms for Nantucket and the Cape, and other renewable energy projects.
Also, he's talked about increased enforcement of existing gun control laws (I wish he was stronger on this, but he's definitely progressive everywhere else).
Let's be frank, he's just about the perfect candidate for the commonwealth: he's got minority looks, liberal ideas, and an Irish last name.
At first, he sounded a little like Lynn Swan, the teflon Republican running for governor here in Pennsylvania. Other than chiding our current Governor Rendell for not doing everything to roll back property taxes, I couldn't tell you anything about what a Governor Swan would do for Pennsylvania.
And he's a little old to be playing footballl...
It's no longer a journalist's job to inform the citizenry about a candidate's programs. It is a journalist's job to inform the citizenry whether the candidate is "authentic" or not.
All journalism is personality journalism. There are no issues only celebrity personalities.
Patrick's campaign has been less about issues and more about organizing. He spent a year and more talking and listening to people around the state, building a grassroots organization that beat the party machine roundly and has shaken up the Democratic establishment. What his policies actually are has yet to become widely known and now since Healey, the Republican, is doing variations of the Willie Horton ad day and night, it doesn't look like any substantive issue discussion is forthcoming.
Broder doesn't really care about policy. All he cares about is his little D.C. clique and making sure everyone knows he's not extreme.