Sunday, April 06, 2008
The Speaker's Swamp
Salvatore DiMasi, Speaker of the Massachusetts House, chief overlord of the budget, preventer of all, welcomes you to the commonwealth. Perhaps that should be the common-quagmire.
Late and soon, much is made in the MSM and on barstools of Gov. Deval Patrick's failures to fulfill his dozens of big fat promises. Yet, let us gaze unblinkingly at DiMasi, awaiting his contrition and cooperation.
Da Speakah hath shown us all, and particularly the governor, that he has and uses power, negative power. While he has allowed small and moderate victories, he has stymied all large efforts and all funding for them.
DiMasi's obstructionism is the sort of behavior that leads some to call for restructuring of the legislature to prevent such arbitrary and negative power. That's an understandable reaction, but too centered on a single mega-ego. We shouldn't try to queer the game for everyone just because we have one key player who cheats.
Many in Boston in particular and Massachusetts more generally love down and dirty politics like DiMasi plays. Hell, locals re-elected James Michael Curley as Alderman when he was in prison for fraud. In such ways, we are like Louisianans in our love of the scoundrel. Moreover, DiMasi isn't even a real crook.
He's just what old Southerners call a bank walker. He's so proud of himself that he strides beside the swimming hole while the rest of the guys are skinny dipping, lest anyone be unaware of his superior endowments.
So far in the 28 years he has been in the House here, he has not shown the other side — vision and strategy. He sure can obstruct, but then what?
As an early and continuous supporter of Patrick, I still have not lost sight of his own major shortcoming. He has been unable to get DiMasi and his old guard to stop the crap and get on with the business of the commonwealth.
The fault is not entirely of the old-style pols who have crippled our commonwealth. Patrick had a track record in his corporate and legal life of getting natural adversaries to agree to cooperate for greater goals and good. He was the mediator, the conciliator, the macher. He reasoned and schmoozed and occasionally threatened. He made things happen.
An alternative is for the DiMasi sorts to change. As it is, they subsist on sycophancy and showing control over others. As surely as the cartoon oil-swilling automaton, they need their fixes of obeisance and game playing. If the current cabal that blocks most progress and pretends that raising taxes to comparable levels with other states when we are in severe times is to change, it won't be a spontaneous event.
Clearly charming and charismatic Patrick does not have enough personality or other juice to rouse the old dogs off the porch. That's a real shame. If he were that powerful entirely on his own, life would be much easier and the future much more positive for all of us.
Let's look the beast right in the beady eyes. The old guys aren't going to give up to reason and honor and necessity on their own. They have hidden behind a no-taxes pledge for so long that their vision and brains have solidified. They don't really see the mess we're in, and are nowhere ready to take responsibility for fixing it.
We, the grassroots, the voters, netroots, MSM, everyone needs to kick the old dogs off the porch. We need to tell them, particularly DiMasi and other state reps, that it's past time to move. They know how to say, "No!" Having done that repeatedly, they have to provide the funding alternatives for the necessary.
They need to know if they won't act, they need to find a new porch and a new source of food.
Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, legislature, DiMasi, funding