The observations of a 50 something with lots of experience in politics, government, life and learning.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


want to hear this, but Tom Reilly has become a better campaigner.

And I think it's because of Deval Patrick.

When Reilly spoke to the Democratic State Convention in May, you maybe could have heard a car backfire, but you couldn't have heard a pin drop. He was dry, lawyer-like and generally boring.

DP lit up the room and he was the buzz of the day.

To give TR his due, he's not as dumb as he looks.

He spoke this afternoon to the State Committee and he had actually become a human being. Taking a page out of DP's playbook, he told about being the child of Irish immigrants, growing up in Springfield (lucky for him the meeting was in Pittsfield...) having his dad and two older brothers die when he was a young man and how local cops in the neighborhood took an interest in him and showed him there was an alternative to being a punk.

When he talked about issues, he kept it short and sweet. Public education, especially higher education. Those of us who are UMass alums (Professional MBA '98) cheered when he said he wanted to make our alma mater the equivalent of Ann Arbor or Berkeley. Health care, etc. All those good liberal causes. (Do I think he's going to give the same speech in the red counties? no, I think he'll emphasize being a tough DA but what does one expect?)

He looked fit and trim and relaxed. He looked like a human being. Now, he still wasn't TOTALLY comfortable around the crowd (he's managed by handlers) but it's a far sight better than it was a few months ago.

Am I giving up on DP? Not in the least. But as a member of the State Committee is was reassuring to know that the putative nominee at least can cut the mustard, something I thought he was incapable of just a few short months ago.

Competition, rather than coronation, can be to the benefit of the Party. Let's get in their and talk about issues and see what people are thinking!


Anonymous said...

Well, Margie, I was there, too, and if TR has improved, it only shows how far he has to go. He did try to tell a joke, but it was very badly told, and has been making the rounds on the internet for years. He needs some original material. DP, by contrast, has a genuine and easy sense of humor, often poking fun at himself. No amount of "handling" is going to give TR that gift.

While I agree he would be a far better Governor than the one we've got in there now (some days, anyway), and it's quite possible he would be a better candidate than our last one, he still can't hold a candle to DP.

So, the downside (TR) isn't horrible, but the upside (DP) is very exciting!

As a practical matter, TR has already alienated much of the GLBT, minority, and progressive communities, with his stands against equal marriage and for the death penalty. Since that accounts for a large part of the Democratic base, he might have a much harder time in the Convention and primary than is generally anticipated. I doubt he will come out of the Convention as the frontrunner.


Margeware said...

Your points are well-taken, MFW. And as a supporter of equal marriage, that is the second "deal breaker" for me. Death penalty being the first. And if hadn't been pro-death penalty I might have given him a bye on equal marriage if he were a civil union person, but the combo just ain't gonna fly.

Let us just remember. You and I ARE NOT the average voter in MA. That doesn't mean TR is the guy; what it means is that we have to work VERY hard to make sure that DP appeals to a broader cross-section than Robert Reich did three years ago. DP has already done that with his appeal to the minority community. But our goal should be to really open up working class Dems to his story and his ideas. That's a tough order because there's a real divide in our party between the foreign car/limousine liberals and the American car/lunch bucket/traditional Dems. Can DP be the crossover candidate. Stay tuned!

Aldon Hynes said...

My two cents:

I've spoken with many Democratic party leaders who prefer coronation. They feel that any sort of in fighting damages the party.

I disagree. Good clean competition is great for the party. The example you have sited of Tom Reilly becoming a better campaigner, by learning from Deval Patrick's strengths is a good example. It is only when we start with nasty negative attacks that we damage ourselves.

I am glad that TR is becoming a better campaigner. Here in Connecticut, I work for John DeStefano. I believe his campaign has made Dan Malloy a better candidate. I am glad of that as well, even though my die-hard DeStefano supporters accuse me of heresy for saying that.

All of this said, I still hope that Deval Patrick and John DeStefano carries the day in their respective states.

Competition, rather than coronation

Wally said...

Hey, stop perpetuating the myth that Reilly's anti-gay. It's just not true. Anonymous said he's "against equal marriage," and Margie wishes he'd be for civil unions. Actually: 1) He opposes the amendment before the legislature. 2) He was for civil unions as far back as '99, right after the VT decision (before a lot of so-called "progressive" MA Dems). You can look it up, Globe 12/23/99. And 3) He stood up to Romney when the Gov. tried to stay the decision. He's always been for fairness and he's never done anything (unlike Romney) to take anyone's rights away. Give him a break -- and be fair.

I wasn't in Pittsfield, but I've seen him before and I'm amazed at how hung up too many Dems are on delivery and showmanship. Reilly may not be flashy, but he is genuine. We're electing a Governor, not a game show host. Patrick can't come close to matching Reilly's record or -- no matter what DP says -- his commitment to Massachusetts.

Margeware said...

I appreciate your comments Wally because, if the CW is correct, Reilly will be our nominee, and we need a nominee we can believe in and work for.

But I do disagree with you on the importance of "personality" or "charisma" or whatever you want to call it in politics. While we don't ever want to fall into the trap of the "cult of personality," what IS true is that a good part of leadership is the ability to "connect" with people. They need to believe that you get up every day and do the best that you can to make their lives better.

That's a very indefineable quality. Don't get me started on John Kerry and how he was sometimes able to bring a crowd of vets to tears on at other times so tin-eared (I'm now talking about just seeing him here in MA as a senator) that you wondered how he got elected dog catcher.

When I was a Selectman, one of my strengths was that I like people. Even people who disagreed with me on particular issues thought I did a good job, because they perceived that I was interested in meeting them, listening to them and connecting to them.

I will never forget in '92 watching Bill Clinton sit down with a group of people in LA after the Rodney King riots. He was masterful. That year I was a Paul Tsongas delegate, and I will always say that supporting Tsongas was one of the best things I've ever done. But watching Clinton with those individuals, I realized he was doing something Paul just couldn't do. Paul had a dour, serious side that was his hallmark and you loved him in spite of his personality (like John Olver!) Clinton to this day lights up a room and it is a valuable tool.

'Nuf said. I've talked too much and I'm ON MY WAY TO THE VINEYARD FOR THREE DAYS. WHEEE!!!!!