Patrick won with class, dignity

There is a wonderful Woody Allen film in which our hero, a hypochondriac, thinks he has a brain tumor but as usual, he doesn’t.

He’s standing outside Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, and when he sees his friends, he jumps up in the air and says, “Beat them again.”

When I heard that Deval Patrick won his race in a time of Scott Brown, tea parties, reactionaries and a huge unemployment rate, I almost clicked my heels and said, “Beat them again.” So how did he do it? First of all, he didn’t panic. He was a class act from start to finish.

Even though he was ahead in the polls, he did the right thing: he debated and he debated and he debated. We all know that a lot of people play it cute when they are ahead in the polls. They refuse to debate, giving one excuse or another. Patrick showed us that he was, above all, a gentleman. When he debated, he made his points but he didn’t lower himself or our politics by letting things degenerate. Plus, he’s really good at it. In comparison to the others, he just seemed more in control.

He knew how to make the point that under his leadership, our state has done better than most of the others.

Additionally, unlike less principled politicians, he didn’t run from his friend, Barack Obama, but embraced him. Class will always tell. His friends, James and Kim Taylor, did what they could do to help. I loved the image of these two soft-spoken and principled men sticking together.

Make no mistake about it, Patrick took nothing for granted. Unlike Martha Coakley, he was out there working as hard as he could. No one was ignored. As the locals say, “He came around.”

Of course, Tim Cahill, the dissident Democrat, went independent. From the beginning it was clear that he would take as many (or more) votes away from Republican Charlie Baker as he would from Patrick. The Republican Governors Association was so worried about how that would play out that they spent a fortune trashing Cahill. It worked and the treasurer’s polling numbers went down. My intuitive guess is that the votes he did get still helped Patrick. There are a number of Democrats who could not make themselves pull down a Republican lever but didn’t like Patrick because of his support for the president.

In the meantime, closer to home, state Rep. “Smitty” Pignatelli got more than 80 percent of the vote. If there is anyone close to a true hero in our area, it’s Smitty. The man comes around, he returns phone calls, and he works his head off. The area’s arts organizations adore him. So why does a local rag in South County write a mean article endorsing Smitty’s opponent?

Certainly, the people have spoken. I mean, 80 percent of the vote is just unheard of. Do you think that the people who run the rag have the good sense to take this rejection of their advice to heart? I mean, really! Now the hard work begins when the state is redistricted. There is a good possibility that Massachusetts will lose a single congressional seat.

The scuttlebutt is that it will either be Congresswoman Niki Tsongas’ seat or a combining of the 1st and 2nd districts. We’re told that the sometimes aloof and condescending president of the Massachusetts State Senate, Therese Murray, will not hear of eliminating the seat of the only female in the Congressional delegation. Since the state Legislature draws the lines, that means that either John Olver (1st District) or Richie Neal (2nd District) will be gone. If John Olver retires as many people think he will do, Richie Neal will pick up the marbles even though Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. of Pittsfield has signaled his intention to run.

I interview a lot of congressmen on my Congressional Corner segment on WAMC and I always come away incredibly impressed by Neal’s brains and use of language. I can’t think of anyone I would rather have as my representative in Congress.

Finally, state Rep. Chris Speranzo almost got his political head handed to him by the most unlikely of candidates, Mark Miller, a former part-owner of this newspaper. People were really ticked off that Speranzo would dare to run for an office that he would leave high and dry if he were to be appointed clerk-magistrate by his political crony friends. The resulting special election would cost the citizens a pretty penny.

What could the guy have been thinking? His friends in high places might think twice before giving him the lifetime appointment. There are limits to what the people will put up with.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 11-8-10

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