U.S. Rep. Mike Capuano and venture capitalist Steve Pagliuca get personal.
The jack-in-the-box class warfare of the current race for Ted Kennedy's U.S. Senate seat was wonderfully loud and comic last evening. Actually a fairer comparison would be Steve Pagliuca in the role of Thurston Howell III.
Cappy haters had their treats. While I endorse him and am fine with his candor and brusqueness, others see him as arrogant and classist. That is, he came from blue-collar Somerville, was its mayor for five terms and led its turnaround. He strongly identifies with that background.
Amusingly enough, Pagliuca tries to mingle with mortals. His website has to go to an immigrant grandfather to approximate blue-collar ties. Oh, he throws in that he had a furniture moving gig at Duke in undergraduate school. However, he may be worth a half billion dollars and admitted in an earlier debate he hasn't felt the recession — but he knows someone who has.
In a couple recent debate exchanges, Pags clearly shows his pedestal perspective from a privileged position. It is a classic classist example. The VC is clear accustomed to deference. That is likely in his desk and business lunch job, but not so in a campaign...particularly against a proud working-class champion.
Consider the brief clip above.
Thurston Steven has no problem dissing Cappy and trying to yell him down repeatedly. Yet, he will not tolerate what he considers disrepsect.
Following that sniping came Capuano, with a moderately patronizing tone, saying "I’m not suggesting we collapse banks. . . You believe in concentrated wealth. It’s concentrated wealth in you more than others." Pagliuca forwent the smelling salts to snap back, "I don’t believe in demagoguery. There’s another personal attack."
To an anti-Cappy observer, like the Globe's Soctt Lehigh the fault is all on one side. As he wrote, "He was just as dismissive when the matter came up again later. His disingenuous and haughty reply showed viewers something instructive about how he responds to critics."
Another way to look at it is that Pags exhibits what many learn in prep school and the Ivy League. Typical arguing tactics include stating your position at increasing volume many times. If you win a point that way, it really doesn't make you right though. It makes you loud and repetitive. It's a style thing.
From their different class postures, this pair are not likely to become great buddies.
Thurston Steven expects and is clearly accustomed to deference. Mike from Somerville was not in the mood for that last night and will not likely be so anytime soon.
Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, Capuano, debate, Pagliuca, special election, U.S. Senate