Meanwhile, in RepublicanLand ...
I showed up at a $250 per ticket Massachusetts GOP fund-raiser earlier this week at the Boston Harbor Hotel to take the pulse of the not-so-Loyal Opposition. I’ll say one thing for Republicans: They have great hair. I spotted former governor Bill Weld, with his still-youthful mane of yellow-orange thatch. Ex-governor Paul Cellucci has no Al Gore-ish bald spot, nor do Senate aspirant Scott Brown, or gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Baker.
Hair Club for Men lifetime president Mitt Romney gave a little pep talk to the 150 assembled activists, though how he can show his face in this state after trashing us for months on the 2008 campaign trail beats me.
I've been spending a lot of time recently in DemocratLand, and I must say the Capuanos, Coakleys, and Khazeis of the world have a one-size-fits-all solution for the state's ills: Fund this, reauthorize this, stimulate that. Spend on, and tax through unrepining hour, to paraphrase a lovely line from William Butler Yeats. (“Hate on and love through unrepining hours.”)
In RepublicanLand, they have their own simplistic mantra, articulated by newly elected party chairwoman Jennifer Nassour: "Tax cuts actually create jobs." Repeat as often as necessary, until government services disappear.
Nassour, a youngish lawyer with an excellent sense of humor, assured me I was witnessing "a Republican revival" that would soon see the State House, the treasurer's office, and the governorship in GOP hands. "We are taking over," she said. Funny lady.
Earlier in the day, I chatted with former GOP state chairman Jim Rappaport, who offered a gloomier assessment.
“We’re struggling,” Rappaport said. “We have long way to dig out from the damage that Romney did to the party. In Massachusetts, he decided to bunt and prepare himself for the presidential campaign.”
Rappaport waxed more optimistic about the prospects for the party’s statewide candidates, Wrentham state Senator Brown, and Baker, who until recently ran Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Brown, a former Jordache jeans model, is “a lot brighter than people give him credit for because he's a good-looking guy,” Rappaport said. “Baker will do exceptionally well fund-raising,” he continued, “and he is precisely the kind of guy you want to have his hands on the levers of power. He’s going to swing for the fences, not bunt.”
Here is the problem with Scott Brown’s Senate run: The deck is stacked against him, big time. The Democrats have branded the election as “the race for Ted Kennedy’s seat,” although in fact it is a job opening to be filled by the citizens of Massachusetts.
The dates don’t work, either. Radio, TV, and the newspapers have an engaging, four-way Democratic rumble/primary to cover until Dec. 8. Starting then, the media beast may or may not turn its attention to Brown, who has only until Jan. 19 – the day of the Senate special election – to make himself known. He will be competing with, in rough chronological order: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, Christmas, the Wiccan Yule, New Year’s, Orthodox New Year’s, Martin Luther King’s birthday, and the Patriots in the AFC playoffs.
Baker, who will face Christy Mihos in a primary contest for the gubernatorial slot, is an old fave of mine. I remember when he used to hang around the Globe’s Business section in the late 1980s, peddling right-wing propaganda on an outlandish idea called charter schools. Look who’s plumping for charter schools now: Arne Duncan, secretary of education for a center-left Democratic president, Barack Obama. Times do change.
The most engaging man I met at the fund-raiser was a slight, bespectacled physician named Jay Fleitman, who is running for Congress against Richie Neal in south-central Massachusetts. When I heard that Fleitman lived in hyper-liberal Northampton, I just laughed: “The belly of the beast!” Yes, Fleitman retorted, but I served on the school board, and I am the current chairman of the city’s Board of Health. “I can get elected,” he said.
I spent abut 10 minutes copping free medical advice from Fleitman, who specializes in pulmonary and sleep disorders. And it worked! That’s the Republican version of the public option: If you can find a doctor, take advantage! Who knows if you will ever get to see one again.
Alex Beam is a Globe columnist. His e-dress is Beam@globe.com. To read previous columns, click here.
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