After a long exile from the corner office, Massachusetts is enjoying its first Democratic governor in 16 years. For most of two decades, they’ve had to content themselves with holding both US Senate seats, all 10 (formerly 11) House seats, a considerable majority in both houses of the state legislature (currently over 85%), and every other statewide elected office. Last November, Deval Patrick defeated the sitting Republican Lieutenant Governor, under the insightful, profound, deeply-meaning slogan “Together We Can.”
And so far, he’s done splendidly.
“Splendidly,” that is, if his agenda is to make the people of Massachusetts dream about 2010, when they can choose someone else to replace him.
I’ve written before about his extravagant ways, spending taxpayer money like a drunken Kennedy (but I repeat myself) on helicopter flights, a new Cadillac, and new drapes for the office. But now it seems that his ineptitude extends beyond purely fiscal matters.
During the campaign, Patrick’s prior employment with Ameriquest, the mortgage company that has been assailed for its business tactics. It seems that Patrick still has some friends there. And when Ameriquest ran into some financial trouble and sought assistance from Citigroup, it reached out to some past executives to offer their moral support. Patrick was one of those contacted, and he obliged them with a phone call. But not to worry; Patrick took off his governor’s hat when he called top execs at Citigroup, and was just plain old Deval, who used to work for Ameriquest and still thinks they’re pretty neat folks. Nothing improper about that.
Also, of late, it’s become all the rage to express support and compassion for our nation’s veterans. For some of us, that’s nothing new. For others, it’s a novel experience. Either way, though, it sometimes seems like there’s a competition about who can say and do the most to help them.
In the midst of all this, Governor Patrick decides to reorganize his cabinet. It’s become a bit too bloated and cumbersome, he seems to think (and as a general principle, most governments are bloated and cumbersome), so he shuffled things around, demoted a few offices, and cut the “core” group down to eight offices.
One of the departments getting kicked off the grownups’ table was the Department of Veterans’ Services, which Patrick’s predecessor — Mitt Romney — had brought there.
I’m probably going to irritate a lot of people here, but I am not convinced that Patrick’s move was innately wrong. At the national level, it can certainly be argued that veterans deserve their own federal agency. The Defense Department is far more concerned with active-duty service members and their issues than former ones, and that’s appropriate, considering the responsibilties they shoulder.
But at the state level, I’m not so sure that the head of Veterans’ Affairs needs to be on a level with the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Transportation, the State Treasurer, and the like.
This, however, is a lousy time to make such a move, especially in the whole Walter Reed scandal, where those injured in service to our nation were placed in truly appalling conditions.
I don’t watch “American Idol,” but I do have a passing familiarity with it (largely thanks to my AI-obsessed colleagues here). It seems to me that if they were to hold a similar competition for governors, Simon Cowell would have some extremely biting remarks to say about Mr. Patrick — and he would be far more of a William Hung than a Carrie Underwood.
And congratulations, Massachusetts. You chose the guy, you get to live with Governor “She Bang!” for the next four years.