read more: Boston Herald Article

[password]Gov. Deval Patrick’s comment last week that he doesn’t “view the budget as a math problem” just may have been the turning point in this election.

While refreshing in its honesty, the governor’s statement is actually quite shocking. If Patrick doesn’t see the state budget as a math problem, then what, pray tell, does he think it is? A piece of fictional writing? Poetry? An interpretive dance?

I have an idea: Next time one of your children asks for something you can’t afford, a trip to Disney World perhaps, try saying this: “You know, when some parents look at their bank statements, they just see a series of numbers to be added and subtracted like a math problem. We, however, are enlightened parents. We don’t see numbers; we see only your smiling faces as you dine at Cinderella’s castle.”

Patrick’s statement is not so much naive as it is revealing. Like most liberal lawyers, Patrick comes from an educational culture that sees only “perspectives” and not objective truths. Charlie Baker, on the other hand, is an MBA from an educational culture based on facts.

Where Patrick the lawyer sees policy-making through the prism of social engineering, Baker the CEO sees it through the lens of fiscal responsibility.

Patrick’s comment evinces not just a difference in world-view, but a deliberate strategy to portray himself as the compassionate candidate in this race. Businessman Baker has campaigned hard on the issue of financial reform, clearly a strength for the man who served as secretary of Administration and Finance and who, as a private sector CEO, revived the floundering Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

Unable to match Baker in the competence department, Patrick is hoping that Baker’s emphasis on good government will work about as well for Baker as it did for Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election.

In 1988, Dukakis’s message of “competence over ideology” fell flat with voters who grew up during the Cold War, accustomed to the “Good vs. Evil” rhetoric of Ronald Reagan. Back then, communist dictatorships were crumbling; American ideals were ascendant. It was an ideological moment, and technocrat Dukakis didn’t stand a chance – even against Vice President George H.W. Bush, who always had trouble with “that vision thing.”

As Americans, we want our presidents to articulate our core values and our nation’s place in the world, not just make the trains run on time. Think FDR, Ronald Reagan and, yes, even George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Love them or hate them, these men all campaigned on strong ideological principles. And while the first George Bush may not have been the most dynamic fellow, he was able to cloak himself in Reagan long enough to make Dukakis look like a bureaucratic dolt.

Taking a page from the Bush 41 playbook, Patrick now aims to paint Baker as the passionless technocrat. This strategy will fail.

read more: Boston Herald Article

After all, we are choosing a governor, not the leader of the free world. And, let’s get this straight, Charlie Baker – 6-foot-4, athletic, Republican and filled with the zeal of a true reformer – is no Mike Dukakis.

Numbers are stubborn things. Today our economy is in a state of collapse. We don’t need a governor who feels our pain. We need a governor who will get the state out of its financial mess. We need a governor who’s not afraid to say, “No. We can’t afford this.”

Most voters understand that a gubernatorial election, especially this one, is less about ideology than fiscal responsibility. And that is why, this November, Massachusetts voters may well choose the candidate who is willing to do the math. [/password]

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