Ever since he burst on the political scene, Massachusetts’ Deval Patrick has been likened to Barack Obama. The two men have been political allies, and I’ve thought of Patrick as the “Beta release” of Obama.
The parallels go beyond “charismatic, well-spoken good-looking black men with slender records of accomplishment and vague promises elected to executive office.” Patrick was a corporate lawyer, most often brought in to help big businesses deal with racial or minority issues. Apart from that, he also spent a bit of time serving on the Board of Directors of AmeriQuest Mortgage — probably the most infamous name in the “predatory lenders” scandal.
There was also a bit of a kerfuffle when it was noted that in 2008’s campaign, Obama was using a few phrases and ideas that Patrick had used in his 2006 run for Massachusetts governor. This blew over, however, when it came out that the two men had a shared speechwriter, and Patrick said he’d encouraged Obama to borrow the ideas.
Well, now we’re seeing yet another case of these two guys sharing a single wit. (The more mathematically-minded among you should pick up on the subtexted insult there.) And that’s in their recent attacks on some of their opponents.
For some reason, President Obama has decided to pick up on a bullshit charge pushed by a bullshit leftist blog and accuse the American Chamber of Commerce of taking foreign money to “subvert” American democracy. They’ve taken the incredible leap from “the Chamber has some foreign-based members who pay dues” to “the Chamber is a bought-and-paid-for tool of foreign interests.” When challenged on this point, Obama and his proxies (Robert Gibbs and Joe Biden, just to name two) have challenged the Chamber to prove that they’re NOT tools of foreign interests.
Similarly, in Massachusetts, Deval Patrick is facing a tough re-election challenge. The Republican nominee, Charlie Baker, served for some time as the state’s Chief Budget Officer in the 1990’s. And during that time, the infamous Big Dig project (which took almost 20 years, officially finished in 2007, and the costs shot from initial estimates of 2 billion to almost 22 billion and still counting) kept costing more and more and more money.
Cue the Patrick re-election campaign. If Baker was Chief Budget Officer and the Big Dig’s costs skyrocketed, then obviously he was responsible for those cost hikes, right?
That one turned out to be even too much for the Boston Globe (who has been his biggest cheerleader) to swallow, and they had to publish a report that the Patrick campaign couldn’t actually tie Baker to any Big Dig shenanigans (which was completely controlled by the Democratically-owned legislature, and the governor only got any say after a driver was killed).
The Patrick campaign’s defense seems quite familiar: we don’t have to prove our accusations; they have to prove they’re false.
Which harkens me back to a story — probably apocryphal — about Lyndon Johnson, early in his political career. He was facing a tough fight, and he suggested something similar — as related by the late, great Hunter S. Thompson:
And his sense of the bizarre knows no bounds, as in this ‘ancient and honourable’ story of how Lyndon Johnson first got elected to Congress in 1948 when his opponent was a wealthy and politically favoured pig farmer: ‘Lyndon was running about 10 points behind, with only nine days to go… He was sunk in despair. He was desperate… he called his equally depressed campaign manager and instructed him to call a press conference at two or two-thirty ( just after lunch on a slow news day) and accuse his high-riding opponent (the pig farmer) of having routine carnal knowledge of his barnyard sows, despite the pleas of his wife and children… His campaign manager was shocked. ‘We can’t say that, Lyndon,’ he said. ‘It’s not true.’ ‘Of course it’s not,’ Johnson barked at him, ‘but let’s make the bastard deny it.’
Scumbag politics 101: make an outrageous charge, then call upon the target to disprove it. It’s not that different from the “racist” and “puppets of big money interests” charges against the Tea Party.
Fortunately, it’s been so overused that it’s utterly transparent.
Can’t these tools come up with anything original?