Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Baker Barking Badly


Let us watch to see how Charlie Baker's disingenuousness plays. Today's WRKO debate-like hour with him, Gov. Patrick, and Tim Cahill was more of the interviews he's been giving. In those, he plays plutocrat, sanitizing his professional history and claiming that if he thought of something, it's the world's fault they didn't make it happen.

A pivot for this race for governor will certainly be how well Baker's routine plays with voters. I don't buy it and as regular readers know, of the three I'm for Patrick.

I was thinking though that the first trio tussle would be where Baker rose above his recent act. He may be too gelled for that.

He came by his flat and aristocratic manner predictably. The first born of wealthy parents and Harvard grad, he seemed to have grown up with class trappings. Coming with that background is similarly expecting deference and the general crassness of speaking over people and shouting them down — as substitutes for superior reasoning.

That's the way the RKO show went and I tuned in and completed it wondering who'll buy into this. Perhaps that would include:
  • MA Republicans, who are beyond eager to expand the Scott Brown victory as vindication of their politics. While not socially conservative enough for many in the GOP, Baker sure talks the fiscally conservative clich├ęs well enough.
  • Change for its own sake types, the tea party and similar types have not gotten enough blood from incumbents yet.
  • The most gullible, who would take Baker literally when he brags on turning around a health-care corporation but skips over doing it with government subsidies and by jacking up premiums and accelerating costs to the public. Likewise, his plan to finance the Big Dig is the cause of present and future financial grief here, while he feigns distance.
Unfortunately for him, Baker also delivers his half-truths in a terrifically flat tone. He is neither charismatic nor particularly believable. Cahill has a bit more passion in his voice, but he is in the situation we have seen in the past gubernatorial and most recent U.S. Senate race, that of agreeing repeatedly with one or more opponents, seeming to have no ideas of his own. Patrick is pretty good and among the three comes off as by far the best and most credible speaker.

Cut Me a Thin Slice


The key aspect may be whether the possible Baker supporters can buy into his my-idea fantasy. He frequently returns to what he thought or said or proposed to unspecified people. If only they (as in the legislature or governor or someone else) had realized the brilliance of this ideas and then made them happen, all would be well. We'd be debt free and our health costs would be much lower, among other benefits.

That sort of aristocratic pretense is all too much. He thinks or whispers and it is to his inferiors to run to battle with these flairs of brilliance. Cut me a very thin slice of that baloney, please, Lord Baker.

I suppose we each have our own Cassandra moments, thinking "I knew better all along." The fact that Baker would have the crust to use this openly in his campaign is another matter. In the RKO show, he got a bit of the obvious — if he said these things, he didn't believe them enough to work at them or try to make them happen. Moreover, his roles under two governors and as head of Harvard Pilgrim belie what he claims he wanted.

This sell becomes between hard and impossible. He'd better hope that the gullible contingent is huge this November.

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