Governor Patrick has a reputation for being mild-mannered, but righteous indignation got the best of him Monday. Speaking at an event at Suffolk Law School about partisan wrangling, he said that his own struggles against political adversaries who are “rooting for failure’’ seem “like child’s play compared to what is going on in Washington, where it is almost at the level of sedition, it feels to like me.’’
It’s understandable that Patrick is frustrated by some of the overheated criticism of President Obama, a friend of his, and he’s right that the national GOP has been reflexively uncooperative. But to describe vigorous disagreement as sedition only calls to mind the worst excesses of the last decade, in which critics of George W. Bush’s policies were branded as anti-American. Patrick’s odd choice of words also evoked another Massachusetts politician — the prickly president John Adams, signer of the infamous Sedition Act of 1798, which forbade “false, scandalous, and malicious writing’’ against federal officials.
Outrageous rhetoric isn’t the solution to outrageous rhetoric. Patrick is only contributing to the problem by describing 21st-century disagreements with 18th-century smears.