Compare And Contrast
The angst over Patrick's proposal that he would allow larger legislative stipends in return for having some of his agenda moved forward, which was called common bribery? In 2003, Mitt Romney proposed that the States of Rhode Island and Connecticut pay the Commonwealth $75 million dollars, in exchange for a promise not to expand gambling in Massachusetts, or he would file legislation to legalize video lottery terminals and auction licenses to the highest bidder.
Patricks proposals to relieve property tax rates? In 2003, Romney proposed amending Prop. 2 1/2 by changing the excise tax rate.
The Glob expose of 'CaddyGate'? In April of 2003, Romney was criticized in the Boston Herald for driving around with Utah license plates on his pick-up truck, as were his Deputy Chief of Staff Alex Dunn and aide Spencer Zwick.
Sal DiMasi's announcement in the Glob that he would not back Patrick's closing of the so-called 'Wal-Mart Loophole' targeting the practice of placing stores in real estate trusts (REIT's) and then leasing thm back to themselves? On April 17, 2003, the Globe chastised Romney for backing a bill to raised bank tax rates and 'stuck them with a $140 million bill for back taxes' having to do with real estate investment trusts (REITs). David Tuerck of the Beacon Hill Institute, no bastion of progressive thought, was quoted as saying, "You can call this closing a loophole if you want. What it really is is a tax hike."
And who can forget Mitt Romney's first budget, written like a businessman, which combined all monies going to municipalities - Chapter 70 school, Chapter 90 road, Local Aid, Additional Assistance and Lottery - into a single gross amount, on the theory that the towns could best decide for themselves how to apportion the money? It ripped the facade off of every City Hall in the commonwealth, exposing the the police thought the schools would steal money, the schools worried that the DPW's would clean them out, the DPW's worried that the Town Hall wouldn't give them money for road repais, and on and on. The whole idea of municipal empowerment was quietly buried by the beginning of Fiscal 2004 that July.
So what is the difference between Mitt and Deval's inevitable early stumblings?
Well, it does seem odd that the conservative Herald attacked Mitt while the liberal Glob attacks Deval, but that's how it is. (One Herald line is too good not to repeat, however - The good news is that after sixteen years, we have a Democrat as Governor. The bad news is, it's still Mike Dukakis.)
Both Governor's wives have very real health issues. Another difference is that Mitt never announced when Ann Romney was having an episode of MS, but preferred to ignore newpaper charges of absenteeism, while allowing Kerry Healy to take over appearances for him. Deval announced that he would be taking off nights and weekends to tend to his wife and expected sympathy and support instead of derision, and has left his Lt. Governor out of the loop. In reality, who would notice that he didn't attend some events and sent Murray instead? All Deval has gained is more bad press.
Another thing worth noting is that while both men held responsible positions in the corporate world, only Romney had been a Principal. Also, Patrick's government experience was as an appointee, not an elected official, which is whre the experience as a principal is useful.
No, the major difference is how both men responded to criticism. Both are businessmen, and come from a similar corporate world. Mitt was equally impatient with the byzantine world of government as Deval seems to be, but Mitt had the advantage of growing up in a political family and knowing instinctively what will NOT play in...Pembroke, if not Peoria. He would never have called a press conference and acted petulantly, no matter how nettled he felt. Mitt would never have spoken to an out-of-town paper about being 'hazed' as the new guy. Even if it were true, there is no universe in which it could be productive.
It took Romney longer to hire experienced help than it did Patrick, so Patrick may yet pull out of his slump. But if he has learned anything, it needs to be that politics is no place for a thin skin, and the adulation of the campaign trail has no place in the grinding business of day to day government, which functions best when you check your ego at the door.