The influential think-tank MassINC had an event at Faneuil Hall today, inviting former governors to talk about “achieving the American Dream in Massachusetts.” Lot of familiar faces from MA politics and media, which can lead to some strange images: for instance, I saw Deb Goldberg briefly mugging with Tom Finneran. Huh. Tom Menino made a passionate plea to the dollar-guys in the room that “I need jobs” over the summer for kids in the city. The folks at Greater Boston did a condensed overview of the last 32 years of governors: “At this point, the real Massachusetts Miracle would be a two-term governor.” Yuk yuk.
Anyway, Weld wasn’t there, but managed to chuck together some very brief pre-recorded blips of commentary. He must be very busy with his
summer job run for NY governor. Ed King is getting some unspecified medical stuff done; but his son delivered a brief but sweet-hearted message to would-be candidates that public service is the “noblest, most admirable” profession, in spite of all cynicism. Nice.
So, the ex-guvs: Swift was earnest, especially about public education; Cellucci was dignified and articulate about cutting taxes and regulation.
But really, this was all about the Duke. I shouldn’t be surprised that find that I like ex-pols — unburdened by the need to make nice, and to please the fickle — better than current politicians. He’s still got his fastball — and it’s a Mariano Rivera cutter that cleaves bats in two.
Dukakis couldn’t make his contempt for the current governor’s reign any more obvious: He tweaked Romney for his Iraq trip; and a back-and-forth with Cellucci on housing yielded this zinger:
CELLUCCI: The problem is zoning and building codes —
DUKAKIS (muttering): The problem’s in Iraq.
Good times, ah, good times.
As he’s stated before, he’s quite concerned about the new health care law: “If [Weld] hadn’t screwed it up, we in Massachusetts would have universal health care under a bill that was a hell of lot better than the one that’s just been approved … It doesn’t do a blessed thing about costs.” Ah, there’s that word, work.
He railed against the idea of tax cuts — he clearly thinks the challenges are too great to afford it:
You know, it’s great to hear someone who actually still has a vision for the state, and who realizes what’s good, and what sucks; and acts like we could actually do something about it, if we just set our minds to it. Aren’t we tired of the infantilizing conservative trope that as a body politic, we just can’t do anything right anymore? Beneath the biting comments and exasperation, Dukakis shows an optimism that seems both quaint and welcome, like your grandparents’ good manners.