The Progressive Democrat?
By Edward Shanahan
I find that I almost always back the wrong horse, as I regrettably favor ideological consistency and steadfast commitment to principled public service over the ability to actually win an election.
Over the years, I have come up a persistent loser with my support of such forgettable presidential aspirants as Fred Harris of New Mexico, Morris Udall of Arizona, Jerry Brown of California, Paul Simon of Illinois, Tom Harkin of Iowa, George McGovern, Ralph Nader, Jesse Jackson, and closer to home Paul Tsongas and Michael Dukakis.
If the candidate appeals to my political point of view, they are all but guaranteed to wind up an also-ran.
In recent years, Democrats have not even come close in the contests for governor, and my stable of candidates—Evelyn Murphy, Mark Roosevelt and Scott Harshbarger and Robert Reich—have repeatedly come up way short.
Instead, the state has been led by a succession of Republicans, such as William (Wacko) Weld, Paul Cellucci, Jane Swift and Mitt Romney, all of whom favored, above any other political principle, cutting taxes and thus preventing the Commonwealth and local communities from providing decent services to their citizens.
And now the progressives, or the limousine liberals, in this state are offering me the prospect that Deval Patrick as the long-sought answer to our hopes for righting the state’s ship of state by finally installing a “liberal” Democrat in the corner office.
Whoa, hold on a minute.
Have any of you been reading the fine print in Deval Patrick’s polished resume, other than the part where he was born into a poor family, lifted himself up from poverty, went to toney Milton Academy, Harvard College and Harvard Law School, paid his dues by selflessly working for the NCAAP legal defense fund, and from 1994 – 1997 served in the Clinton administration as assistant Attorney General for civil rights.
The Boston Globe has performed a major public service by informing us in some detail about Patrick’s employment history, which has been decidedly tilted toward private sector gain in recent years.
But I don’t know how many of Patrick’s breathless supporters, especially in this part of the state, have any familiarity with the full Patrick success story.
Almost a decade ago, Patrick shifted gears when he opted out of public service and plunged into the high-paying and heady private sector, first with a two-year stint at a Boston law firm, and then burrowing even more deeply into the corporate world.
Let’s see - first as director of United Airlines; then a top lawyer for Texaco, which was facing a racial discrimination suit, and later elevated to vice president and general counsel for the oil company giant; director of Reebok International; three years as executive vice president and general counsel for Coca Cola. And finally for two years until July of this year, he was a director of the parent company of Ameriquest, a mortgage firm with a long history of predatory lending practices that resulted in a $325 million payout to settle customer lawsuits against the company.
When he gave up his seat on the Ameriquest board in July, Patrick was being paid $360,000 a year for attending six meetings, according to a Globe account.
So we can see that Patrick was doing very well, thank you, on the income side, given his corporate ties and boardroom activities.
Equally interesting is what the public record, as unearthed by Globe reporter Frank Phillips, reveals of the spending side. According to an article in March, Patrick and his wife, a lawyer with the prestigious Boston law firm of Ropes & Gray, had outstanding real estate mortgages of $5.9 million, which, based on interest rates on the loans, amounted to monthly payments of $27,000, a staggering sum – almost $325,000 a year - for a homeowner, especially if he becomes governor at a salary of $135,000 a year, although not so onerous if you are a global corporation.
The mortgage payments are mainly for loans taken out on his home in Milton and on property he and his wife own in Richmond in Berkshire County, and on which they are building a 10,000 square-foot vacation home on some 75 acres.
So while Patrick has become rich by most yardsticks, the fact that he is carrying such heavy debt should worry the good taxpayers of Massachusetts.
Huge debt is risky for an individual and even more so for a government, and one wonders, given Patrick’s corporate background and growing debt, if he really fits the definition of a progressive Democrat, other than the fact as he has become progressively richer he appears to have become even more progressively underfinanced. Not good credentials for a political leader, and certainly not for a Democrat, who should present a more fiscally disciplined profile.
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