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Friday, July 23, 2004

Let Us Now Praise Governor Romney

Both Scot Lehigh and Brian McGrory take the opportunity to praise Mitt Romney in their columns today for forcing an arbitration settlement of the police labor dispute that threatened to disrupt the convention. All you really need to know is the headlines on the two pieces. McGrory goes with "Rising above partisanship" while Lehigh's is "Romney shows up Democrats." Lehigh is right, McGrory wrong.

McGrory writes:

The beauty is in the counterintuition. Not so long ago, Republicans would do anything in their power to engineer sneering protests at Democratic conventions. Even this year, don't doubt for a second that GOP strategists were salivating on the Oval Office floor at the prospect of bedlam in Boston.

No matter. The Republican governor decided his allegiance belonged more to his state than his party, a change in itself.

I don't think that's entirely correct. If there were serious convention problems, no doubt some of the blame would be laid at the governor's door. It would be risky to believe they would be able to blame Menino and the Dems for everything. Also, with recent examples of cowardice by Dems refusing to stand up to the patrolmen's union, notably Kerry's speech cancellation at the mayors conference (Lehigh has more on this), Romney had an opportunity to draw a contrast. Unlike the wimpy John Kerry, Mitt Romney sides with the people.

That's all well and good, but Romney has taken the opportunity to gloat about this a little too much, to make sure the people watching at home on TV understood how he and John Kerry differed. McGrory quotes Romney as saying, "We have an event that could be the target of terrorism. I could not conceive of politics influencing my actions in that setting." But back when Romney spoke to the mayors, his spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said, "Executive leadership requires tough decision-making, and that's true whether you're a mayor, a governor or the president of the United States." Hmm, who running for president do you think he might be referring to?

In short, my point is that if you say you don't think something should be politicized, don't politicize it! As Elias wrote, "John Kerry declines to cross one police picket line and not ten seconds later Mitt Romney all but pole-vaults over the assembled protesters yelping his defiance of unions and unionism into the wind."

As usual, leave it to Barney Frank to actually think through an issue. Rather than believing in blind allegiance to (or in the GOP's case, defiance of) any union group, Frank says in Lehigh's column, "Ultimately, you set a precedent that any party that is in a dispute with anybody else can throw up a picket line against a third party, and that is not a good idea." Thus we have a potential guide for which pickets to cross or not cross, and the BPPA falls into the latter category. (Their threatened pickets for next week are now a joke anyway, given yesterday's settlement, but it's still good for Democrats to have a substantive position on this when they're asked, as the political recriminations will continue.)