Why Obama Lost Massachusetts
"Together we can," was the endlessly repeated slogan of Deval Patrick, Barack Obama’s close political and personal friend, as Patrick ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2006–successfully. Many of us wondered what that slogan meant, and when we displayed the Audacity of Inquiry, the Politically Correct Dems told us that it was "inspirational." In fact Patrick and Obama consult with one another on their campaigns, using the same PR firms, with Obama’s Senatorial campaign slogans recycled to Patrick’s gubernatorial campaign and then back again to Obama’s presidential campaign. The Audacity of Repetition.
So why did Obama lose to Hillary here in Massachusetts? Governor Patrick endorsed Obama and put his highly touted, but quite invisible, "grass roots" organization at Obama’s disposal. The Kennedys endorsed Obama and John Kerry also endorsed him–although the latter is actually a bit of a negative in Massachusetts where the arrogant Kerry is widely reviled. And Obama was all the rage in the PC precincts of Cambridge and Brookline. Nevertheless he lost.
One key to Obama’s loss was that Hillary waltzed into the working class areas of central MA, which the tonier neighborhoods of Boston consider to be somewhere near Utah, and made her case. In central Mass if you see an antiwar sign, it is likely to bear Ron Paul’s name. So Hillary campaigned in the depressed cities of Worcester and Springfield–and won. In those areas, the slogans, "Yes, we can," and "Together we can," remained a mystery. The folks there lack the Ivy education, more properly understood as a finely honed herd instinct, which it clearly takes to understand the sayings of Obama. Whether or not the working class voters of the poor cities of Massachusetts believed Hillary, at least she said something comprehensible.
But there is a bit more to the story. We here in Massachusetts have had a preview of Obama in our new governor, Deval Patrick. And what we have seen is not pretty. The first thing of note that Patrick did was to buy some very expensive new drapes for his corner office and a more expensive official vehicle –a large, handsome black Cadillac. Those news items brought snickers at the spending habits of this "man of the people." But Patrick’s signature issue has been his effort to bring casino gambling to Massachusetts, the only means that Patrick could come up with to raise some badly needed revenues. Of course revenues are missing from state coffers in part because Patrick’s buddy Obama is voting hundreds of billions for the war on Iraq. Patrick’s proposal turned out to be very unpopular with the state legislature, and so it lost. But it was worse than that. On the day of the vote, Patrick was MIA, and it turned out he was in NYC shopping his autobiography around. He returned to find the legislators who had stuck with him left high and dry, but he had in hand a $1.3 million book contract. (Patrick concealed where he had been, but one intrepid reporter found him out.) That sure smelled bad. The joke is that at last we know what he meant with his campaign slogans: "Together we can gamble in casinos," "Si, se puede … apostar en casinos."
But Patrick has done something much worse –many things in fact- but one especially bad. Our former governor Mitt Romney, together with the state legislature put together a lousy health care plan that Romney planned to use as a selling point in his now defunct campaign for pres. It was basically a sop to the insurance industry, and it forced everyone to buy insurance or be fined as with car insurance. (This year one must submit proof of health insurance with the state tax form or else pay a fine!) And the legislation used numbers of uninsured that were too low, thus underestimating the state subsidies that would have to be paid to employers and employees.
Now the chickens have come home to roost; and it is apparent that the plan is much more expensive than the pols had claimed with a big revenue shortfall as a result. Patrick’s answer is a wave of hiring freezes, layoffs and funding cuts. This in a state where the bridges are rusting, the schools collapsing and the unemployment rising. Of course Patrick and the Dems had another choice –a single-payer plan, which has wide support in the state. In fact the Mass Medical Society commissioned two studies some years back, both showing that single-payer in Mass would ensure everyone and result in lower costs than the present system, which leaves untold hundreds of thousands without insurance. (The present Romney/Patrick plan provides lousy coverage despite the subsidies –with very high deductibles and co-pays to make certain that the insurers make their big bucks.)
So like Obama, Patrick has no use for single-payer. And like Obama he is very much into book contracts. In Patrick we already have our Obama. Another one as president? No thank you
JOHN V. WALSH can be reached at email@example.com.