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March 23, 2005

Patrick pounds the pavement/Charisma boot camp?

Deval Patrick is getting wicked sehrious now:

Yesterday, Patrick confirmed that, after more than two months of traveling the state to test the waters, he has resolved two other issues in his decision-making: getting positive reaction and encouragement from voters and Democratic activists, and persuading his wife and two daughters to endure the rigors of public life.

He went to Sharon on Sunday, then Newton Dem Town Committee (scroll way down) Monday. Meetings with Cambridge ward committees are upcoming. So, consider this a continuation of the "Listening Tour".

We had a good discussion at Left-Center-Left about what makes a candidate "electable". Now, I am not one that thinks that "electability" is the mechanistic result of a perfect Venn diagram of factors: "My stands on the issues are X; my biography is Y; my hairstyle is Z; therefore I'm electable." It doesn't work that way. The best thing a candidate can do is to present a temperament that people are comfortable with. No one, but no one -- not a Harvard professor, not the guy who works at a 7-11, not the candidate himself -- is smart or informed enough to know all the issues thoroughly. So we all use shorthand, and try to figure out the candidate's general temperament: Can I trust him to look out for my interests? Do I like him? Who are his friends? etc. That is the political game a candidate has to win -- you don't get to play the policy game until you actually win an election.

From the Newton event, the early word on Patrick is that he's a good communicator. Funny, even. (You know any funny current politicians other than Barney Frank? Our guv?) I'll try to get some feedback from his Cambridge meetings.

Speaking of charisma ...

You know what the Democratic party needs? Charisma boot-camp. In August of election off-years, ship all candidates -- from ward chair to President -- to the JFK Library, and drill some sparkle into them for a week. Get in touch with your inner JFK, RFK, FDR, Clinton, Gandhi, Jefferson Smith, what have you. Work up your stump speech with James Carville hollering in your face like a drill sergeant. George Lakoff hits you with a switch when you use Republican frames. Barack Obama tells you how to stand up and tell folks what they don't want to hear, but need to hear. Make your themes ring with sincerity and truth. This stuff can definitely be taught.

This needs to happen. I'm tired of cardboard cut-out candidates with long résumés and a repertoire of cheesy sound-bites.


[edited for much-needed clarity]

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 03:05 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink


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Ya know...I'd like to start with one particular trait...honesty.

Not honesty couched in what-the-public-wants-to-hear (Kerry), but real old-fashioned honesty.

Or maybe I'm just naive...

Posted by: Lynne | Mar 23, 2005 8:53:07 PM

"Not honesty couched in what-the-public-wants-to-hear (Kerry), but real old-fashioned honesty."

Well... did Kerry even display the first, much less the second? Heck, did he have any idea what the public wanted to hear?

I don't believe that charisma and honesty are *at all* in conflict with each other. I want both. I'm greedy.

"Or maybe I'm just naive..."

Yes, you are. We all are. Keep it real.

Posted by: Charley on the MTA | Mar 23, 2005 9:54:10 PM

Kerry was never electable. He became lt .gov by securing the majority of the far left leaning democratic minority in a crowded primary field made up of 1970 style conservative dems. Ditto for his first senate run. After that most agreed it was better to have him then a repub in the us senate.(Weld) Rappaport may have had a chance but he proved to be unlikable. But most mass voters don't like or trust john kerry. Karl Rove knew how much of a phony nothing kerry is and welcomed the chance to run against him after dean fizzled.

Deval Patrick i hope is doing a listenng tour of more places then strong liberal democratic enclaves. I hope he has some differences with the democratic agenda. If not, he is destine to sink with them in november; if he gets nomination. Of course this is soul selling time to the state party to get the 15%. Especially where u can't get caucus delegates anymore. Can Patrick effectively play this balancing act?

Posted by: throll | Mar 24, 2005 10:02:58 AM

How can you say that John Kerry was "never electable"? By virtue of the fact that he has been elected state-wide 7 times in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, his electability in this state is pretty high. He was elected 4 times for the US Senate, once for LG, once during the MA presidential primary and obviously during the 2004 general election as well. The fact that he was re-elected by over 80% of the electorate in 2002 is a testiment to his electability if not his popularity in this state.

As for the claim that "After that most agreed it was better to have him then a repub in the us senate.(Weld)", have you seen those debates???

While I admit that John Kerry may never win a contest for "most popular kid in class", elections are also based on the electorate's faith and trust in the candidate's ability to do the job. If Kerry did not possess either popularity or trust, he would never have defeated Dean. Don't you think that frontrunner Dean's "fizzle" was based on some level on the voters' assessment that he could not be trusted to handle the job?

While I encourage anyone who has a desire to run to represent the interests of our party to make their case, our tendency to take down "establishment" candidates is overwhelmingly disappointing. To often, "establishment candidates" seems to be defined as an elected official who has devoted a significant amount of time to public service. When did we decide as a party to punish public service track records and reward inexperience?

Posted by: Blue Brother | Mar 25, 2005 1:29:53 PM

Blue, Being electable as senator from mass and being elected u.s president are 2 different things.
John Kerry is not liked by a majority of voters.
Wouldn't you agree he was a lousy nominee for president. Other then not being George Bush he had little appeal to voters, .
Just like he was not Bill Weld ( a republican) or he was not one the large number of dems in first senate primary run or first lt. gov primary run. Win those primaries and you win elections.
People that have worked with him, and other politicians, especially mass politicialns, do not like John Kery. And for those who follow his campaign, the reasons are ovbvious.

Posted by: The troll | Mar 25, 2005 1:57:24 PM

I agree that Kerry was not the most likeable candidate, but he was also a Democratic nominee who ran against a war time president. No one has ever defeated a war time president. Kerry is also the highest Democratic vote getter in history and he ran the closest presidential campaign ever against an incumbent. I think those are all big accomplishments for any candidate.

As for the Weld campaign, Kerry spanked him during the debates - most voters will tell you those debates made the difference. The difference between Kerry-Bush and Kerry-Weld is that 2004 was a referendum on Bush, and Bush won. 1996 was a referendum on Kerry, and Kerry prevailed against one the most popular politicians in the state.

You're right, Massachusetts is a state where democrats will typically win if they make it out of the primary. But what they win is the nomination, not the election. Democrats win primaries for governor every four years, we still haven't won the corner office back yet.

Kerry is a strong campaigner, in order win a hotly contested primary when you don't win the convention, you need to demonstrate electability, trust and SOME sort of appeal. Kerry did that in 1982. As for 1984, he ran a strong campaign against Jim Shannon - a popular congressman from the district where Kerry lost in 1972 and also home district to outgoing senator Paul Tsongas.

The point is a lot of people don't like Kerry, but he continues to be elected and is electable. I'm not sure that any candidate would've been able to present themselves as anything but "not Bush". There IS a difference between being electable in Mass and for the presidency. Kerry got as close as any candidate in a two party system can and has the votes to show for it, if not the presidency.

My final point is that there seems to be no "establishment candidate" from the Democratic Party in Massachusetts who enjoys broad appeal and love. The fact that there was nothing close to a consensus on a candidate for Kerry's senate seat had he become president demonstrates that we Democrats in this state simply may not operate that way. I'm not sure that any Democratic politician in this state who has held any office for more than one term does not take more than their fair share of arrows. You must admit, politics in Massachusetts, much like baseball is a blood sport. We are harder on our athletes and politicians than most states in the country.

Posted by: Blue Brother | Mar 25, 2005 5:10:02 PM

You are right n so many points, except your points re:Kery.
AS for mass politics, I blame the small minority (and getting smaller) of arrogant self rightous and out of touch leadership of the state party. The party continues to make all moves which tirn off the average indepndent voter needed to win in november.

Posted by: The Troll | Mar 25, 2005 8:03:48 PM

Troll, who IS the leadership of the state party?? I wanna talk to them! To be honest, I'm not sure if anyone is steering the party at all. The ship that is the state's democratic party is less a vessel and more like a collection of rowboats that are trying desperately to paddle in the same direction but have no idea where they're going. However chaotic as things seem, we must not begrudge those who are paddling hard regardless because they still believe.

Posted by: Blue Brother | Mar 25, 2005 8:13:32 PM

Believe in what? Seriously.

Posted by: the troll | Mar 25, 2005 8:15:26 PM

the belief that we need to fight for values and policies that will give everyone the greatest amount of opportunities. we need to work for our values, not just talk about them.

Posted by: Blue Brother | Mar 25, 2005 10:03:32 PM

My democratic party fights to keep a middle class. Fights for living wages, fights for equal opportunities in education, housing availablitiy, employment opportunities. Fights for employee rights and labor unions, (without which we would have rich people and poor people in this country and no middle class).
Instead i get a state democratic party that has a three prong litmus test. Complete and total support of Abortion, gay mariage, and teacher's union.
I still believe, i am just not sure that our party believes.

Posted by: The troll | Mar 26, 2005 7:58:00 AM

I agree with you. It is about social and financial opportunity and security. Don't get me started with the litmus test approach. Nominal policies will only get us nominal leadership. The reason why we have a party that has a three pronged litmus test is because we are currently a reactive party and no longer a proactive one. Instead of being an agent of change, we have become simply an agent.

Posted by: Blue Brother | Mar 27, 2005 2:48:02 AM

It is not only the litmus test, it is that our party wants people to be 100% strongly in favor of those issues. If there is any swaying or at least an uincimfortability then the party labels these people as primitive haters.
How can someonbe respsect a political party who has no repect for others, only itself?

Posted by: The troll | Mar 27, 2005 9:58:27 AM

You're right. That's why all quixotic hopes of regaining the senate has disappeared with the successful Planned Parenthood/Hollywood campaign against Jim Langevin in Rhode Island. That whole episode has left Chafee looking positively tolerable now that his pro-choice stance has been staked and his "condemnation" of Bush 43 was declared two weeks ago on Meet the Press. We must take care not to be so open-minded that we are blinded.

Posted by: Blue Brother | Mar 27, 2005 1:25:47 PM

Complete and total support of Abortion, gay mariage, and teacher's union.

You may be right about the teacher's unions, but I don't see where you get off on making that claim about abortion and gay marriage. Until recently, opponents of gay marriage and abortion controlled the House of Representatives. They're on the outs because new leadership is in control, but the social issues aren't driving the changes, they're just reflected in the team that came in with DiMasi.

Democrats in Cambridge, Somerville, the minority urban areas, and the upper-class suburbs are going to support abortion rights and gay marriage. Democrats in West Roxbury, South Boston, Fitchburg, the working-class suburbs are going to continue to support conservatives. Very few established representatives lose primaries, and when they do, it's because they're bad reps (Ciampa), not solely because of social issues.

The Democratic Party is going to be a place where people disagree on the big social issues, only because it's so damn big and includes so many people. There's never going to be a total takeover by one side or another, not as long as South Boston still votes in the primaries in the numbers it does.

Posted by: Brittain33 | Mar 30, 2005 9:04:18 AM

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