Thursday, October 26, 2006

Can of Candidates, Yet Again

Last evening's next-to-last televised debate was incessantly annoying, like rubbing a little Tabasco into an eye by mistake. Damn, I'm sorry I did that. Now I just have to wait.

There was little remarkable. Republican Kerry Healey almost kept her cool. She was a pressure cooker, just simmering quietly along until she couldn't stand it anymore. Hisssssss.

She clearly was chastened by realizing after seeing her poll numbers -- comparative to other candidates and her own disapproval ratings -- going the wrong way. Somehow slander, allegations, mud slinging, and attack ads didn't work for her. They were magic for so many Republicans in so many places, but not here and not now. Itty-boo, Kerry-poo.

Even with all that throttling, she just could barely bottle it in for more than six minutes at a time. Everybody was using fungible numbers, including her, but again and again, she'd try a junior high debating trap. She'd frame a question that made no sense in context and challenge all three competitors.

For example, she of the unfunded 50-points program, took her ask-the-others question to pick up on Independent Christy Mihos' Proposition 1 to turn 40% of revenue to cities and towns. To him, she said that he wanted to do that immediately and how could he manage it. To Democrat Deval Patrick and Green/Rainbow Grace Ross, she wanted them to concur with this proposal and define how they would accomplish it.

Mihos pointed out that it would be phased and that she was out of line and mischaracterizing. She was rolling though and tried to get the other two to explain how they would implement another candidate's platform. Huh? They didn't bite; it wasn't their baby.

She blew up several times, but in contrast to her previous fits of self-righteousness, this was a much calmer evening.

Unfortunately, toward the end, she got delusional. She began claiming that Patrick had to raise taxes, he just had to. All three have proposed more than is in the budget, he no more than others. The Republican chant of "Democrats mean higher taxes" gives the other candidates each in turn the chance to remind her that her administration has seen huge increases in fees and property taxes with huge decreases in local aid. She always loses that one, but can't stop herself.

Her only real desperation came out of the blue, she announced true gossip, a.k.a. B.S. She said that there was lots of buzz in the State House. She just knew it. The Democrats were saying, apparently as one (buzz...buzz...buzz) that they could hardly wait for Deval Patrick to be governor so that he could rubber stamp all their wasteful bills.

Throughout the hour, the others were less evident, and each looked better in contrast to her for it. Mihos was singularly quiet for him. He attacked Patrick a little once or twice and Healey four or five times.

Patrick was irritated by Healey's craziness and illogic, but in the main answered calmly. He also has a compulsion. He can't help himself from Clintonizing by complimenting Healey when he can, by getting along. There may be worse habits than being gracious, but these debates are probably not the best place to practice them. On the other hand, this behavior will come in real handy dealing with the big dangling egos of legislators, a skill neither the governor nor lieutenant governor has managed in nearly four years.

At the end of the dais and at the end of her time on stage, Grace Ross was solid with one glaring problem. Her solution to everything was soak the rich, increase their taxes. None of the candidates has been nasty enough yet to point out that her plan would drive the entrepreneurs and executives out of state, perhaps because they don't see that she has a shot. She has additional ideas and should air some others.

I'd like to vote tomorrow (for Patrick) and avoid the next 10 days of more of the same.


Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, governor, Deval Patrick, Kerry Healey, Grace Ross, Christy Mihos, debate

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