Friday, October 27, 2006

Getting down to the wire.......and Holly Conflict

Too many mistakes.
by Kevin John Sowyrda

Should Deval Patrick assume the seals of office in November, the Commonwealth will slip into an abyss of government-sponsored criminal enterprises, where the office of His Excellency coddles the perpetrators of heinous, unspeakable acts of violence and succors them, just as Romulus and Remus were nurtured by a she-wolf.......or so the advertisements of Republican aspirant Kerry Healey would have us believe.

Unfortunately for Healey, there are two endemic problems inflicting her bid for high office, to say nothing of the fact that most people shouldn't care who Romulus and Remus were (Romulus killed Remus and then founded Rome. For further information just rent the 'I Claudius' DVD box set.). First, the citizenry is no more apt to buy Healey's commercials than they're lined up with cash at the spinach aisle. Second, Healey's campaign has been one of the worst produced, orchestrated and executed political events in state G.O.P. history; for the following very specific reasons.

First, Healey's in the wrong race. She should be the Republican roasting Ted Kennedy now, who instead faces some mouse of a candidate who won't break seventeen percent. One must admit that it's time for Old Ted to face another Joe Malone, somebody who gets him back on his toes and actually makes him defend some of his economic policies which apparently haven't been too gloriously successful, unless you refuse to glance at cities like Lawrence, Holyoke and Springfield.

Had Healey run a highly positive effort against the man embraced by Democrats and considered anathema by most Republicans, inevitable defeat aside, she would have made a national name for herself and in a few months would be deputy secretary for such and such for the last two years of the Bush Administration, which beats the future she's looking at today - a lot of free time for High Tea at Myopia.

Second, Healey's time is so incredibly off cue, one wonders who can possibly be advising this woman. Anyone putting their finger to the wind even a year ago would have seen the growing anti incumbent sentiment and the fact that it was simply going to be the 'Democrats' turn' this cycle.

Third, we need not wonder whose advising the lieutenant governor because we know his name is Rob Gray. You can't discuss Kerry Healey absent a mention of Rob Gray, anymore than you can analyze the Bush Presidency without studying Karl Rove. Gray is Healey's Rove, with more the bravado and ten times the venom. I was speaking at length Tuesday morning with one of the best known Republican officials in Massachusetts, a man with years of experience in G.O.P. politics. He agreed that Gray's "go for the throat" campaign tactics have not only destroyed Healey's chances for victory but that the stratagem is a throw back, an antiquated plan for victory that no longer works in an era when voters have become immune to negative advertising - to such an extent that its effectiveness is already being questioned by the more savvy strategists on both sides of the aisle.

Fourth, Healey does not know how to answer questions. If I didn't know better I'd swear her debate coaching came from the same crew that ill prepared Shannon O'Brien four years ago. Healey's debate performances rate poorly because even when handed a softball she still can't hit it out of the park. Take this querie from that pathetic - more on this later - debate at Fanueil Hall last week. New England Cable News reporter Allison King asked one of the few decent questions of the night when she nailed Healey on Romney's adnauseum use of Massachusetts political culture as a one liner on the Republican fundraising circuit in the Midwest and other regions. Healey could have played it sharp and to the point, without throwing the old man under the buss. "Mitt Romney will always be my friend, but he's campaigning for president right now in a way I wish he would not." The crowd would have cheered, though to no avail long-term.

Last, but not least, Healey has violated one of the most basic tenets in big-time American politics. You don't go nuclear on the T. V. ad thematics until you've first identified yourself to the electorate; in the process establishing a base of support and a reservoir of respect. I think Healey's 'who am I' ads lasted about a fortnight before she started behaving like North Korean dictator Kim IL Jung, a bomb tosser without much of a cause.

And now for just a little bit more on that political debate last week, which reminded me of Winston Churchill's famous quote, "Democracy is the worst form of government; except for all the rest." Last week, David Gergen had me convinced that it's really "the worst" on such occasions as that. Am I the only person who, having watched this man try to moderate for one hour, can no longer fathom how or why leaders of the free world ever sought his advice and counsel.

As for the questions, my reaction was to call CVS to see if they'd get me some quick cyanide. Would it have been so unnatural for someone to ask Grace Ross, "As the first Gay woman to run for governor of Massachusetts what is your opinion of this administration's statements regarding Gay citizens and what do you have to say to the lieutenant governor this evening that might change her mind as to your right to marry in Massachusetts?"

The losers in this race will hardly be just Ross, Healey and Mihos. The press has lost credibility. Take this week's edition of the Boston Herald featuring G.O.P. strategist - a strategist is a consultant with no clients - Holly Robichaud. For the umpteenth time she shredded Christy Mihos in her analysis sidebar which is featured regularly in the tabloid. God forbid that the paper disclose (and it never has) that until recently Robichaud was on the Mihos payroll as a highly paid consultant until the Mihos people fired her for what one top Mihos commandant told me was "erratic behavior." Nothing like a strategist scorned.

The election clock ticks and Patrick's lead surges. But the race might have been atleast close had Healey relied on some real, adult advice from savvy players instead of yielding to those who can't fathom the new times we live in.

Kevin John Sowyrda is a political writer and commentator. You can email him at and read his daily blog at

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Grace Ross is disconnected.

by Kevin John Sowyrda

Somewhere deep in the bowels of the Geneva Convention, is a clause or two regarding the humane treatment of gubernatorial aspirants and the acceptable methodology for torture versus those techniques which cross the line of even Bush Republican acceptability. One expects those seeking fortune in the plebiscite to suffer the pummeling of unearthly questioning from Boston 'journalists' who have yet to hear from their dentists that they're definitely too long in the tooth. Candidates must also endure the ignominy of the proverbial nasty political ads and the danger that most people will swallow anything if it's fed to them in sufficient quantity on the television set. But do these candidates really deserve Grace Ross?

Henri Dunant is one of the men who inspired the Geneva Convention, first convened in 1864. But now that I ponder it further even he, the greatest humanitarian I've ever studied, could not have forseen Green-Rainbow Party candidate for governor Grace Ross, who would look more natural in a Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream commercial than she has ever appeared to be on the Massachusetts gubernatorial debate stage. If Dunant were alive today he'd agree that two of the candidates who lose this race are due reparations for having to endure this 1968 throwback; that's presuming that the winner will forgo reparations in lieu of winning the corner office.

It's just too much to bear. Here you are, a Christy Mihos, a Deval Patrick and a Kerry Healey, all polling at least significant numbers, and your opportunity to engage and go at it Lincoln-Douglas style is atleast waned by a "who the heck is she" whose yet to measure a nano-point of support in any poll outside that little concrete enclave at Harvard Square by the magazine store; where they still smoke the funny stuff until the Harvard University cops get too close for comfort.

The fact that Grace has been given entry to a dimension properly and ethically reserved, atleast before now, to those who exhibited legitimacy through their past practices and potential for success is one of a plethora of examples proving the ongoing mental retardation of the Boston media establishment. Yeah, she got the ten thousand signatures to get on the ballot. Big, fat, hairy deal. One of these days a neo Nazi is going to do the same thing, but that doesn't mean we'll prop them up, elevate their stature and give them the bully pulpit they never deserved.

No, I've yet to see Grace doing the Goose Step, and the comparison is purely theoretical. It's just for the past many weeks, as I've observed Grace utter generalities broader than Arnold Schwarzenegger's shoulders and some one liners that are more childish than actually funny, I've wondered what she does to elevate the debate, improve the substance or show me the beef. After serious consideration I've come to the same conclusion as you have, according to the most recent poll, and that is that she has been a complete waste of everyone's time and would be better situated as a candidate for the board of selectmen in Athol. And that's being very rude to Athol.

Did you ever watch Hogan's Heroes. If Major Hockstedder were here he'd exclaim, "Vut is dis vooman doing here!"

She's here because the Boston media doesn't want Kerry Healey to win, or atleast you'd think so. If only Nixon could go to China, only I can throw this bone to Healey. My missives on this administration have been of such a demeanor that I should hire those body guards Wilkerson used should I ever venture near the office of His and Her Excellency at Beacon Hill. But fair is fair and I'm beginning to have my suspicions, because any half sober political novice will agree that the over crowded debate formats have made the Republican nominee's position tenuous at best - though for the record her debate negotiators were sufficiently masochistic to agree to it in the first place.

How Healey stands it, I'll never know. I'm wondering if Alfred Lord Tennyson had visions of Healey when he wrote The Charge of the Light Brigade, "cannon to left of them, cannon to right of them," and all that sort of stuff. Healey shows up on stage and sustains body blows from Christy Mihos on one flank and the irritating sarcasm of Ross on the other. "Boldly they rode and well into the jaws of Death. . .," yeah, that's been Healey under this absurd debate format which might be fine and dandy for Patrick but nonetheless intellectually dishonest on the part of the debate sponsors.

Why is it dishonest. Flash back with me to the Democratic Primary race for president when national media titans felt oddly compelled to include the Rev. (I use the title Rev. loosely here) Al Sharpton in the televised debates. It was an absurdity only journalist Lawrence O'Donnell would speak out against. You've seen him on the McGlaughlin Group and know him better as one of the creators of the NBC series, 'The West Wing.' Larry took his colleagues to task when he talked about debate segregation being perfectly acceptable, meaning that you don't let just anyone on the stage. There's got to be an elevated bar, and if you don't reach that point of distinction and credibility you should be home watching the debate like the rest of us, not faking it on stage like Ross has gotten away with here in Massachusetts.

Ross doesn't irritate me just because she's frumpy and could use about eighteen months of counseling from Queer Eyes for the Straight Guys, or just because her Green-Rainbow Party is so horrifically far to the left that the party's platform would scare the hair off Karl Marx. What gets me is that she has absolutely, positively nothing to say; and maybe that's exactly why the Boston media has cozied to her so much, because most of the time they have nothing to say either. Birds of a feather, as they say.

The race for governor is almost over, but not the suffering and humiliation for some. Grace Ross is like the bad cold that won't go away and there's no zinc cough drops that will make her disappear. The candidates will have to share the stage with her again on October 19 and then again on November 1. She's gotten more than her fifteen minutes of fame while what we've gotten is a diluted debate series that was great for Ross's cell of supporters and negative for the democratic process, which should not allow every Tom, Dick and Harry and Grace to get on stage and babble.

Finally, Ross's media exposure has apparently not translated into a bulging campaign war chest. I called her campaign headquarters for comment on Tuesday night using the number 508 754 3505 as displayed on the candidates web page. But the number was disconnected, just like the candidate will be in a few, short days; thank God.

Kevin John Sowyrda is a political writer and commentator.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The inevitable election results.

Healey is one Humpty Dumpty of many to fall.
By Kevin John Sowyrda

Perilous polling data is rarely a Sunday brunch any candidate for governor cares to munch on, so I'm surmising that Her Excellency the Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey is still reaching for the big bottle of pink stuff to assuage her nerves upon learning Sunday morning that the gap between herself and her principal opponent Deval Patrick is one she couldn't close in time for November; unless she discovers Jimmy Hoffa's body, the cure for cancer and the whereabouts of Amelia Earhart. And even then she'd lose, because it's her political destiny, just as it's the destiny for national Republicans to take a shellacking in the up coming Mid Term Election because of a 'final straw' named Congressman Mark Foley.

Locally, the die was cast the day Healey assumed office as a joined to the hip entity of an ultra conservative who had a disjointed, if any, domestic agenda while lashing out at domestic rights for Gay men and women. Forget the fact that the UNH poll, commissioned by the Boston Globe and CBS4, shows Healey some twenty-five points behind her opponent, with just days till the election. What proves true her inevitable downfall is two ultimately compelling inner polling data factoids which are more telling than any polling data we've seen in this campaign in an entire year, both of which deserve some inspection.

First, the poll shows Healey's association with Romney prompts voters to avoid supporting her own bid for office. So much for the 'standing up for the institution of marriage' and all that stuff. I believe history will write that Romney made a political blunder his party will not recover from for years. He shattered the tradition voters loved to embrace since 1991, a tradition of moderate Republican governors who, as one of them so succinctly put it, wanted to "keep government out of your pocket books and out of your bedrooms."

Romney invaded bedrooms with utterances perfectly in Goose Step with the dark agenda of radio talk show hate mongers like Howie Carr and Jay Severin, both of whom have polluted the airwaves with their disgusting, anti-Gay rhetoric with Romney - a bishop in the Mormon church - serving faithfully as their yucking-it-up side kick on a painfully frequent basis. Not very gubernatorial, and hardly presidential; and evidently damaging to the woman constitutionally serving as Romney's deputy.

The poll's second revelation is the most devastating for Healey and shows that all compartments are flooding. The UNH poll documents that people who absolutely disagree with Deval Patrick on issues straight across the public policy spectrum are nonetheless enthusiastically supporting him because they prefer his demeanor; which is to say his positive message and his inspirational persona.

This second facet of the UNH poll is unquestionably a death knell for Healey. It's something we really haven't seen before in a Massachusetts campaign of any sort and it's proof positive that the fat lady won't bother singing on election night, but has already emailed her ballad to Healey Headquarters. You can't beat an opponent when he's miles ahead of you, at this point in the race, with thousands of those supporting him admitting they don't concur with him but prefer him anyway. As one high ranking Democrat told me the day the poll came out, Patrick would have to commit "an incredible gaffe" for this race to swing the other way. Personally, I think if Patrick paraded down Beacon Hill in his birthday suit, on a Pink Elephant with Howard Stern, he'd still win this by double digits. This guy was born a winner and he's on fire right now, a political juggernaut no one and no event can stop. Should you doubt me just ask two guys named Reilly and Gabrieli what they're doing these days.

The dynamics leading to Healey's foundering campaign have unfolded in a predictable way for everyone; except those paid to advise her. First, she's an unimpressive incumbent at the exact moment in time when voters have no appetite for incumbents. You can blame the big dig for this powerful sentiment and Healey might as well be ousted Big Dig Czar Matt Amorello himself running for office because voters obviously view her as an integral part of the problem - make that catastrophe - of the day. Second, Christy Mihos' relentless blitzkrieg on Camp Healey has been more affective than the Healey "braintrust" was intellectually capable of preparing for. Healey's not ready for prime time advisors, like G.O.P. adventurist Rob Gray, must be having a deer-in-the-headlights week. What to do, what to do, what to do - he must be thinking while not chewing gum at the same time - when one's client is twenty-five points behind a guy who people don't even sync with on the issues of the day.

That's definitely a bigger challenge for Gray than the year he mysteriously lost the state of Maine for the Bush Campaign while both of the state's US senators were Republicans and Maine itself was overflowing with Christian evangelicals. (It would be like managing Ted Kennedy's campaign for US Senate in Massachusetts right now and losing.)

My advice to Healey? Save the kid's inheritance and plan for another day. If there's anyone around her who cares about Healey as a person and her own future - trust me, there isn't - they'll tell her that now it's about preserving her reputation and not being remembered as a desperate, way-behind candidate who started launching nuclear missiles like she were the Barry Goldwater candidate of Massachusetts politics. If she were a chum of mine I'd say fire your go-for-the-throat consultants and go super positive and prepare to eat the political caster oil you've got no choice to drink. Politics is often about another day, lieutenant governor.

Meanwhile, Healey's defeat in Massachusetts may be third page news at national G.O.P. headquarters on election night given the fact that they yell bon voyage to the House and send the thank you note with flowers to Mark Foley, a congressman from Florida with all the ethics of a lizard and friends who apparently regarded covering for his abhorrent behavior the same way you and I would look at giving an excuse for a co-worker late from lunch break.

Foley has admitted to soliciting a minor and his calumny is overshadowed only by the admission of House G.O.P. leaders that they had damning information regarding Foley dating back to last Autumn, but casually dismissed it. Who would have thought the Republicans in Washington were taking advice from Cardinal Bernard Law on such matters.

The only thing more disgusting than the facts flowing like sewerage from the House G.O.P. caucus is the pathetic attempt at spin control by some people who just never get it. Newt Gingrich was on Fox News Sunday this week defending the "cover up" because, as he put it, had the G.O.P. leadership gone public they would have been accused of "Gay bashing." Host Chris Wallace seemed a little stunned and questioned Gingrich on why they'd be accused of Gay bashing. Kudos to Chris.

Are you completely insane, Mr. Speaker? A man soliciting a boy for sex is not Gay, anymore than a man soliciting a girl is Straight. It's all the behavior of pedophiles and has about as much to do with Gay people as you have to do with Martians.

November will be a landslide month for Democrats, locally and nationally, for two reasons. Locally, Mitt Romney spent precious time obsessing with the behavior of consenting adults; time that should have been invested in crafting a real vision and agenda for the Commonwealth. He's consequently contaminated his 'number two' and she can't recover. Nationally, Republicans can't recover from documented evidence that they protected a colleague who was attempting to abuse a minor.

Locally and nationally, the G.O.P. has broken faith with many of their own doctrines and certainly the people. The price they will pay, in Massachusetts and Washington, will be steep indeed.

It's inevitable.

Kevin John Sowyrda is a political writer and commentator. You can reach him at and read his daily blog at