There’s an interesting article on Lt. Gov. Tim Murray in the September issue of Boston Magazine. It’s by State House News Service stalwart Jim O’Sullivan, one of the best political writers going, and it’s well worth reading. It may not bring a lot of new information to folks who have been watching Beacon Hill closely (though there are some anecdotes that were new to me), but it’s a good portrait of a guy who has managed to use the rather vaguely-defined office of Lieutenant Governor to advance the Patrick-Murray administration’s agenda pretty effectively. It touts Murray’s savvy in working behind the scenes to move things forward, and also notes his fundraising prowess. For the political non-junkies out there, it’s a very useful piece.
The problem is the title.
Hack in Action
Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray is exactly the kind of politician Deval Patrick railed against four years ago. He’s also the reason Patrick may win again in November.
When I first saw that headline, I thought, whoa, has O’Sullivan dug up some new dirt on Murray? Has he uncovered some ethical lapse that would make it fair to characterize Murray as a “hack,” and even more extremely, as “exactly the kind of politician Deval Patrick railed against four years ago”? Does Murray have some connection to the “Big Dig culture of Beacon Hill” (against which Patrick indeed railed) that we didn’t know about? And why haven’t we heard about any of this before?
When you read the article, you quickly realize that there’s no new dirt, there’s no new scandal, and no, Murray is not a “hack.” So what’s up with the scary headline?
First, for the record, I have confirmed (not via O’Sullivan himself) that O’Sullivan did not write the headline. It was the work of anonymous headline writers at Boston Magazine.
Second, the headline is really unfortunate, and a disservice to Murray. The article’s bottom line is this, in assessing Murray’s prospects for higher office down the road:
If Murray is to advance, … [h]e’ll somehow need to convey to voters that an insider can sometimes be more than a cynical bureaucrat, that a professional politician can be (gasp) good for politics – a lesson even Deval Patrick has come to appreciate.
I think that’s a fair assessment. What’s grossly unfair is to equate “professional politician” with “hack.” They are the same in Howie Carr-land, but Carr-land is a right-wing fantasy that bears little resemblance to Planet Earth. So here’s a suggestion to the droll headline writers at BoMag: stop listening to Howie Carr, and start paying attention to how good work does sometimes get done in politics.