Well, that was an interesting little eruption between Travaglini and Patrick, wasn’t it? And practically over before it started. I was most struck by the sweetness of Patrick’s tone in appearing with Trav on Friday (my emphasis):
Yesterday, after Travaglini’s about-face, Patrick was conciliatory, calling Travaglini “my friend and my new partner.
“We are looking forward to and have started building a very strong relationship,” Patrick said. “We are going to have conversations from time to time that are private and where there are differences. But I’ve said before and we’ve said to each other — not every difference is a controversy. We don’t have any significant differences today. What we’ve been doing is trying to work through our respective . . . legislative agendas and, as much as possible, get on the same page from the start.”
“My friend.” Isn’t that just awfully, ridiculously nice? And he may well mean it, seeing as Trav and Sal DiMasi have been over to the Milton for a Deval-cooked dinner.
This little exchange represents two totally competing styles of wielding power: Confrontation and Bluster vs. The Nice. Which do you think was more effective? Who comes out on top? What if Patrick had responded in kind — or indeed with anything less than the total warmth and equanimity that he displayed?
It may be that this approach is actually better understood outside of the Northeast, where politeness can seem like a show of weakness. (The Long Island native and Boston-trained Bill O’Reilly is a classic example of C&B-based power.) Particularly when someone else is watching, The Nice is actually pretty damn powerful. It takes guts, self-control, focus, and a thick skin: i.e. the confidence that one is not permanently diminished by the verbal blows of one’s adversary. For it to work, it has to be real, warm, and empathetic, not just the usual barbs couched in “please/thank you” language. For the wielder of The Nice, his stature is enhanced in direct proportion to the intensity of a Confrontation & Bluster attack.
This is what real toughness looks like.