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Between the Lines: Through Cynicism Goggles

Deval Patrick and his pals love to lecture.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I shouldn’t watch so much TV. I try to watch intelligent stuff, but still it’s not good for my health. TV makes me think about things I shouldn’t waste my time thinking about, ask questions for which I’m unlikely to find answers.

No doubt, TV also contributes mightily to a disease that, although I can’t yet admit it, others say is dragging me down—the crippling malady of cynicism. But with snow in the forecast last week, how could I resist the lure of checking in with my favorite TV weatherman, NECN’s Matt Noyes?

My desire to keep up with the latest snowpocalypse—no, we didn’t get any white stuff where I live—put me within earshot of a bit of punditry offered by Boston-area political analyst Mara Dolan, on hand to tell viewers what to expect from Gov. Deval Patrick’s final State of the Commonwealth speech. As it turns out, continuing his policy of overreacting to snow storms, Gov. Patrick canceled and rescheduled his speech for this week, Jan. 28. So if you watch too much TV like I do, you may have seen it by the time you read this. If Dolan was right the other day, Patrick asked us to look “at the effect of his long-term view, his sense of generational responsibility.”

The effect of his sense of generational responsibility? “We’ve had a remarkable turnaround since Governor Patrick has taken office,” Dolan explained, offering the state’s rise in population since his election as evidence. “Massachusetts is leading New England in population growth,” she enthused.

I was starting to wonder if I’d judged Gov. Patrick too harshly, been too irritated by his enthusiasm for casino gambling and biomass power to give him his due on higher education or other noble causes he’s championed. That’s when NECN’s anchor, Kristy Lee, asked Dolan whether or not we should believe Patrick when he says he has no intention of running, eventually, for president.

Smiling, Dolan issued a mild rebuke to Lee for her question and to anyone in her audience who doesn’t just take the governor at his word: “I have to say that, in general, I think people have to take off their cynicism goggles when they listen to Democrats. We tell it like it is! If Gov Patrick says he wants to go back to the private sector, that’s what he wants to do!”

An active member of the Democratic State Committee, Dolan clearly favors Deval Patrick and won’t say a bad word about him. Though that limits her value as an analyst, she’s entitled to her rosy view. What bothered me through my skeptical goggles was her uncanny knack for projecting Patrick’s own smug dismissal of the legions of disaffected voters who don’t buy his or his party’s act.

Deval Patrick came into office whining about the cynicism with which many people regard politicians, and he appears destined to leave office sounding the same refrain. Cynical or not, I’m so glad it’s time to change the channel.•

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