Election night 2006. That’s Deval Patrick on the jumbo screen at right, emerging triumphant in his victory as the first person of color to be elected governor of Massachusetts. The campaign slogan was Together We Can. The headline in today’s Boston Globe was that he will cut 1,000 state jobs to avoid a budget deficit of $600 million. He didn’t create the recession, but there is still something terribly disheartening about this news. Families of people with disabilties will lose the people who support them, more teachers will lose their jobs, more schools will be overcrowded, and politicians – the Governor included – may use this as an excuse to build casinos in Massachusetts. He is sinking in a quagmire not of his own making, and signs point that he is looking to all the wrong people to pull him out. I don’t blame him for not getting along with his own legislature - even though his party holds the majority – but, just as with Obama, I wonder if he has been able to surround himself with people who are truly like-minded.
That election night was an interesting moment in time. Ted Kennedy spoke (boring boilerplate), as did John Kerry (deadly boring boilerplate – leftover from 2004 Presidential campaign) and Martha Coakley (most boring of all attorney general-speak that she still uses in her current campaign to fill Kennedy’s Senate seat). Patrick was the beaming exception. Like Obama – he literally lit up the room.
Still, my favorite moment from that night did not take place on the floor, but in the empty corridor outside as my daughter and I were going out to find something to eat before the speeches began. It was one of those enormous convention center hallways that could accomodate a truck if it was required, and walking toward us was a man in a red pullover sweater. He looked familiar and I squinted to get a better look. He smiled at me and, not breaking his easy stride, smiled and said “Hi there, how are you?”
“Fine, thanks.” I nodded and returned the smile as we passed each other.
My daughter looked at me, and said “Who was that? It seemed like he knew you.”
“That, my dear, was Mike Dukakis. And he was once the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. I’ve never met him before, but that’s what good politicians do – they make everybody feel like them know them.”
“That guy in the red sweater walking all by himself?”
That guy in the red sweater walking all by himself.