The Spine

Deval Patrick's Long Career

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Deval Patrick is the Democratic candidate for governor of my state Massachusetts. Frankly, I don't follow local politics as much as I should. But he has been, according to all the polls, the far-and-away favorite by roughly 20 percent (as of yesterday's WHDH-TV/Suffolk University survey), making him the first black person to look like a state-wide winner since Ed Brooke, the Republican U.S. Senator during the years when there was something properly called a "moderate Republican," even a "liberal Republican." Patrick's opponent is Kerry Healey, lieutenant governor under Mitt Romney, a big factoid sufficient to make me vote against her.

This means that I am for Deval Patrick, as are 99 percent of my neighbors in the fancy Cambridge neighborhood off Brattle Street. But, what with 49 percent of those polled for him, Patrick surely has the support of many working class and unemployed people, as well. There's a third party candidate, a zillionaire libertarian--running as an Independent--called Christy Mihos, whose numbers go up and down but are quite respectable for someone who seems to desire only to spoil it for the Republicans. He also seems to be a person of enough means to have already poured more than $7 million into his campaign. (And, beyond that, below that, a fourth candidate so far to the left that she won't make a mark even here in the Bay State.)

Right now, a shadow has fallen over Patrick's lead, which had fallen 9 percent from a week ago wholly independent of a newly discovered factor. What is this factor? That Patrick had contributed $5,000 to a fund for DNA testing a convicted rapist and had also written the Parole Board (twice) pleading for the convict's release. Parole letters are only credible when their writer has real knowledge of the imprisoned. Patrick really didn't know him from Adam. He never actually laid eyes on him. All of this is explained in this morning's Boston Globe.

Patrick does not come across as a particularly conscientious or scrupulous person in this matter. He has contradicted himself several times about the details of his involvement in the case. "We screwed up in terms of how we have handled the doing the homework before we answered the questions about this issue." He is sloppy about his other contributions, as well. Speaking about his $100,000 in charitable gifts during 2001, he averred, "Frankly, I couldn't tell you, in detail, what any one of them was." There is something haughty about this statement, as if to say, a bit noblesse oblige, please, I can't be bothered. ... How serious is this man about his charities? I know I puzzle over mine. Minister Don Muhammad of the Nation of Islam seems to have been his contact in the case of the convicted rapist. And then there was Patrick's appeal in the sentencing case of a convicted murderer in Florida.

To tell the truth, there have been other questions raised (here, here, and here) about Patrick's rectitude in some of his business practices. But the ethical standards of American enterprise and the hypocrisies that surround them are so desolating that it would to cast too unforgiving an eye on Patrick about these.

But Deval Patrick also had a career before he had an ever so slightly sleazy career as a corporate lawyer. And that prior career was in the Clinton administration. I wrote about him in TNR then. And he wrote back. And Jeff Rosen wrote about him, too, and devastatingly.

I'm still voting for Patrick.

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