1. I never heard of the Clover Club before this, and as described it’s somewhat secretive, so who would have noticed if the governor declined quietly? But no, someone had to tell the Globe.
2. It was apparently OK when it was “an Irish group,” a designation that excludes a far greater percentage of the world. But when it was all male, that wasn’t good.
3. Maybe — maybe — it would have damaged the governor if it came out that he spoke at an all-male event. He is facing reelection, so that is a real possibility. But why is that question so hard to answer?
4. It comes down to this: Is there something wrong with an all-male gathering? I don’t want to sound like the proverbial Angry White Male, because I’m mainly bemused by this, but why can’t the governor have the maturity to admit that, sometimes, it’s fun to have a gathering of all men? No one disputes the right — yes, right — of women to have a party where there are no men. The fear seems to be, oh, deals are brokered at such meetings, women are being excluded from the real centers of power, etc. Does anyone really think that this obscure club is a center of power?
I went to all-male high school. There is such a thing as male camaraderie, and it has merit. Can it be carried too far? Yes. Are women excluded for historical reasons from too many boardrooms and legislative offices? Yes. Will the governor’s refusal to hoist some egg nog at the Clover Club change any of this? No.
Now, I don’t know, maybe these guys are jerks and represent the worst sort of old boys of the proverbial old boy network. If so, fine, the governor has no obligation to speak at every event. But it seems far more likely that this is a small tradition, and the governor or his staff dragged it into the open and held it up to do some cheap pandering. There was no need for that. When we talk of breaking social barriers, I fervently hope that we’re talking about important social barriers.
We know one thing: topic one at the party will be the governor. And no one in the room will be voting for him.