By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Healey’s hypocrisy

If Deval Patrick proves incapable of defending himself, he’s got Blue Mass. Group to do it for him. Still, there’s so much rank hypocrisy surrounding the mini-crisis in which he finds himself that I’ve got to point out a few of the seamier examples. First, read the round-up by Boston Globe reporter Andrea Estes. Now consider:

1. Kerry Healey’s new ad. Watch it here. If this isn’t an attempt at “Willie Horton II,” I don’t know what is. Attempting to trash a lawyer for ethically defending a client is just vile. Attempting to trash a lawyer who was merely trying to spare his client the death penalty is beyond vile.

2. The LaGuer connection. Patrick appears to have dissembled on how much help he’d given to convicted rapist Benjamin LaGuer, and now Patrick is paying the price. He should. But it can’t be emphasized enough the extent to which LaGuer’s supposedly wrongful conviction was a cause célèbre in this state until 2002, when DNA tests proved beyond any reasonable doubt that he was, in fact, guilty.

Particularly laughable is a column in the Boston Herald today by Virginia Buckingham, who writes: “When I got a couple of letters from convicted rapist Ben LaGuer at the Herald, I filed them — in the circular file. I’m sure I’m not the only one.” What Buckingham fails to say is that she went to work at the Herald in 2003, a year after LaGuer failed the DNA test.

You’ll have to take my word for it, but I always believed LaGuer was guilty. Still, I knew plenty of smart people who thought otherwise. And, guilty or not, there are questions to this day as to whether he received a fair trial.

Globe columnist Adrian Walker writes, “In 1998, many thoughtful people had serious doubts about LaGuer’s conviction. Some still do. It is ridiculous to equate examining questions in a case with being procriminal. Yet that’s just the leap that’s being made in this campaign.” No kidding.

3. Do as I say (I). Michele McPhee reports in today’s Herald that the Department of Correction, under Romney and Healey, approved a light-duty clean-up assignment for
Terrill Walker, convicted in the notorious murder of Boston police officer John Schroeder in 1973. Maybe it was the right thing to do, but what do you suppose Healey would say if Patrick could somehow be linked to such a decision?

4. Do as I say (II). Ditto for Healey’s running mate, Reed Hillman, who once sought a pardon for a man who’d been convicted of drunken driving three times as well as of assault on a police officer. Can you imagine what a big issue this would be if anyone had ever actually heard of Hillman?

Patrick’s got a huge lead, and maybe he’s going to coast into the governor’s office as long as he doesn’t make some monumental blunder. Still, he’s got some vulnerabilities — his election would eliminate any Republican check on the Democratic majority, and he hasn’t exactly been reassuring on whether he’d raise taxes. Healey’s been going at him hard on those issues, and she should.

But the soft-on-crime angle is an insult to the public’s intelligence.

More: Jon Keller has a good post and video commentary on Patrick’s fumbling response to Healey’s attacks.

Still more: Matt Margolis is pretty convincing in arguing that there’s less to the Herald’s Terrill Walker story than meets the eye. I should have read it more carefully.

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Thoughts on the debate


Prague spring ends


  1. o-fish-l

    dissemble (verb)–to put on a false appearance: conceal facts, intentions, or feelings under some pretense.Let me get this straight. In 2006 while running for Governor, Deval Patrick puts on a false appearance to conceal facts, intentions or feelings under some pretense. Or as Dan innocuously writes, Patrick merely “dissembled.” Many others are saying Patrick LIED.In the same paragraph, Dan tries in vain to put today’s lying into context, writing that, “it can’t be emphasized enough” that four years ago the LeGuer case was a cause celebre for some activists. Dan, what does a cause celebre then have to do with lying today?

  2. mike_b1

    Dan, the worry here for Patrick’s supporters is how does he defend himself (or change the subject) without massive public yawns or eyerolls? The political brilliance (if I can call it that, since she’s really just reusing a tactic from the Bush I’s playbook) of Healy’s attack is in its simplicity: “That scary black man Patrick will let other scary black men run wild on our streets.”Blue Mass. Group’s counter may be technically correct, but it’s too complex. Patrick needs a soundbite response, something like: “Before Healey had the sex-change operation, s/he molested puppies.”Then he can resume coasting into office.

  3. mike_b1

    Dan, I should add that its coverage of attacks like these is where the media really falls down. I watched Fox News’ (OK, laugh away) coverage of Healey’s attacks last night. There was no rebuttal, either from Patrick or by the reporters. That’s irresponsible. It would have been easy enough for the reporter to dig up the whole story and give it the perspective it deserves.Instead, we’re going to be treated to weeks of this nonsense, complete with the requisite “coverage of the coverage.” My head hurts already.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Fish — You make it sound as though I’d given Patrick a pass for his dissembling, when in fact I wrote that he deserves to pay the price for it. Pay attention. Try commenting on what I actually write rather than what you assume I’m thinking.

  5. Anonymous

    Great post on Patrick and the crime issues, with lots of good points.With respect to Keller’s blog, I do think that one of his last lines essentially accepts Healey’s premise:”Given the DNA proof that punctured LaGuer’s claims of innocence, it’s equally understandable that crime-wary citizens would look at the situation and see Patrick trying to turn a cold-blooded rapist loose on the streets.”If it’s “understandable” that voters object to intervening on behalf of a convict whose guilt is LATER confirmed by DNA test (or any other new evidence), it would logically be understandable if voters object to someone ever intervening on behalf of any convict under any circumstance. Which is Healey’s argument.Kind of depressing to think that one’s political viability depends on accepting the premise that the criminal justice system never makes mistakes.

  6. Charley on the MTA

    Dan and all — Just want to say that the 2002 DNA test is apparently *not* a slam-dunk, according to some experts. So, that should at least still be treated with some skepticism. Now, that doesn’t mean LaGuer is innocent, but it would seem to justify the continued calls for a new trial.And yeah, Patrick needs to simplify: “Everyone deserves a fair trial.” (The puppies and sex-change operation stuff is our late-October surprise, natch.)

  7. mike_b1

    Patrick should just mention Charles Stuart over and over.

  8. Anonymous

    That Healey ad is one of the most disgusting bits of advertising I’ve ever seen – and I’m not a Patrick supporter by any stretch

  9. Anonymous

    Am I imagining it or did LaGuer successfully get through to the victim on the phone? Not sure where I heard it but substance was that incarcerated people get a list of 10 people they can call and a PIN number with which to do it. LaGuer circumvented the DOC system with forwarding or conference call, got through from Souza/Baranowski to the schizophrenic victim, then on a pretext that he was a priest, claimed that Ben had “forgiven” the victim for “her false accusation”.If this is true,it would speak to a level of depravity by a sociopath usually not seen outside of Hollywood.Anyone else heard about this one?

  10. Anonymous

    Even more disgusting is the “it’s not racist to be against Deval” campaign. HubPolitics has a long rant on it, but Scott Allen Miller’s post on Deval Watch gets the whole slimey point across in a few sentences:Scott Allen Miller said… I’m working on setting up a soundboard so that any time you or anyone else offers a fair, thoughtful criticism of Deval Patrick, a liberal can dismiss your observations or questions with “You’re a racist”. It’s a preview of what the next four years might be like in Massachusetts. 5:00 PM, October 02, 2006

  11. Anonymous

    I’d laugh at that ad for being as close to self-parody as an ad gets if it weren’t so slimey. It’s such a cop-out–ooooh, he’s a laaaawyer. As the old cliche goes, “everyone hates lawyers until they need one.” Maybe, just maybe, the public is smarter than this ad. High hopes, I know. And this Scott Allen Miller a-hole, he takes one right out of the Bush playbook–pre-emptive attacks on things that just aren’t there. And I don’t quite get the “There won’t be a Republican to check a Democratic legislature” argument. How much power did Romney and Healy actually have, anyway. It’s been veto override city from day one. And I can say unapologetically that I think the political world is a better place with less Republicans. Yeah, I said it.

  12. skeptical brotha

    Dan,Healey’s ad is the lowest blow of all the ads I’ve seen this year. It is literally pregnant with negative racial inferences. Until this ad, I believed Healey to be a moderate republican. She may yet be, however, she is also a desperate pol willing to do anything, or say anything to keep holding onto power.

  13. Scott Allen Miller

    DanTwo things:I don’t doubt that Ginny Buckingham got mail from Ben LaGuer because he’s still proclaiming his innocence to anyone who will listen.Secondly, did it seem curious to you that the Herald’s police beat reporter wrote a piece about the gubernatorial race? McPhee’s sources are mostly in the BPD and BPPA, not Beacon Hill. This was the BPPA doing Patrick a favor by dropping a dime to McPhee. Problem is, the story is not a big deal. The problem is the Herald front page claimed that the administration had given him a Statehouse “perk post” when McPhee’s story was that he’d simply done community service work.The bottom line is, a murderer did community service work at the Statehouse for a day while in custody. Big deal.anonymousAre you suggesting that being against Deval Patrick for governor is inherently racist? No one can disagree with him without being a racist? That’s the attitude I get nearly every day from pro-Deval Patrick callers who, by the way, I don’t accuse of being racist or sexist for being anti-Healey. When I point out, for example, that lowering property taxes (IF that would even happen) would not benefit lower and middle class voters who rent their homes at all, I get called a racist. When I point out his duplicitousness over and over again, that’s racism, too. It’s to the point of ridiculous already and I fear is a sign of things to come if he’s elected. Those folks with the “Dissent is Patriotic” bumper stickers on their Subarus will need to replace them with some that read “Dissent is Bigotry”.

  14. Dan Kennedy

    Scott –I also don’t doubt that Ginny Buckingham got mail from LaGuer at the Herald. I never suggested otherwise. Hell, I got mail from him up until the day I left the Phoenix. I thought my point was clear, but I’ll say it again: Buckingham made it sound like she was more astute than Patrick by throwing LaGuer’s mail in the trash, but she failed to note that she didn’t even start at the Herald until after a DNA test linked LaGuer to the rape. It was easy to be smart once that had happened.Also, Scott, you stuck a post on Hub Politics in which you tried to take me apart on the McPhee story at least five hours after I had publicly praised Hub Politics for its work in knocking that story down. That’s bad faith, as I’ve already noted on Hub Politics.

  15. Anonymous

    anon818:Scott Allen Miller is practically a member of the Kerry Healey campaign. There’s almost nothing he says on the subject of Deval or Deval’s supportors which can be taken seriously. You’ll sleep much easier if you look at everything he says as an attempt to build ratings while promoting his candidate. As his various interactions on this blog demonstrate, he doesn’t have a lot of personal integrity.

  16. Scott Allen Miller

    DanI didn’t take Buckingham’s claim that way at all. LaGuer is going before the SJC to claim that not only did he not get a fair trial but that the 2002 DNA test was tainted, if not rigged. You say it’s easy to be smart about the case after the DNA test, but several DNA experts have expressed their support for LaGuer even AFTER the DNA test. He has solicited Buckingham and others to do the same. And if it was easy to be smart about LaGuer after the DNA test, why did Deval Patrick allow LaGuer to continue to claim him as a supporter right up until a few weeks ago?Secondly, as I stated on Hub Politics, your initial blog posting about the Herald story as well as your later (deserved) praise of Hub Politics dealt with the content of the story, not the journalism behind the story. Given the main thrust of this site, I was surprised you overlooked that fairly obvious aspect of the story. It’s a critique of the critique, not a critique of the analysis itself or the analyst himself. Without getting into why I disagree with your analysis I’ve tried to make it clear that I respect and like you a lot. I don’t say the kinds of things about your character or integrity that people on your site say about mine, after all.

  17. Dan Kennedy

    Scott — Ditto, which is why I’m sticking to the issues. As for your analysis about who’s on what beat at the Herald, you’re trying to slice the salami way too fine. The Herald news staff is tiny. Everyone does everything. You may be right about how that particular story came to Michele McPhee, but so what? It’s either a good story or it isn’t. Hub Politics made an excellent case that it’s not a good story, mainly because of something I’d blown by too quickly the first time I read it: the fact that Walker was pulled off the clean-up crew almost immediately.

  18. Anonymous

    That’s the game you people always play, Scott. You feel as if your bankrupt ideas deserve some sort of equal time, no matter how non-sensical, outdated or racist they are. It’s the classic swift boat strategy. Take advantage of the give both sides of an argument equal weight strategy to push your Jay Severin-inspired brand of neo-racism and hate. And when your ideas fail and you’re mocked by people with half a brain who see through this facade, you and your ilk just go running back to the same “wahhh, everyone has a right to their opinion, stop the personal attacks, wahwahwah” crap argument you people always trot out. Objectivity in the face of overwhelming and widely accepted fact is ridiculous.

  19. bostonph

    ScottO:You ask anon:Are you suggesting that being against Deval Patrick for governor is inherently racist? No one can disagree with him without being a racist?I’ve yet to encounter anyone who has said this. To paraphrase a comment from HubPolitics, even “white hating activist” Sadiki Kambon didn’t say “only racists are against Deval Patrick.” I’ll bet even the people you mention called something you said racist, not your opposition to Deval. In fact, 90% of the talk about racism and Deval Patrick I’ve seen has been on HubPolitics. The rest is on Deval Watch. Aaron Margolis has openly accused white Deval supporters of voting for Deval out of “white guilt.” It’s hard to see that as anything but racist. (There’s ample evidence that Aaron is homophobic and xenophobic over on PardonMyEnglish, but that’s another issue.)As for sexism goes, that charge has already been trotted out over at Deval Watch.

  20. Anonymous

    Hey 11:14,your pictures are ready from the DNC anarchists cage. It’s been a while since I’ve seen that many rhetorical ad hominems strung together without an original thought. Thanks for the chuckle.

  21. Anonymous

    “ad hominems strung together without an original thought. Thanks for the chuckle.” Sorry, original thought is the hallmark of the Repug noise machine. I forgot. Chuckle all you want–Healy’s Willie Horton ad ain’t gonna cut it.

  22. Anonymous

    This morning, Scott Allen Miller destroyed any remaining credibility he had by hosting D R Tucker from “Deval Watch”DR dredged up the ghost of Jesse Helms, suggesting people supported Deval ONKY because he’s black. Scott Allen lapped up every word and posted a synopsis on his blog:D R has some interesting insight about Massachusetts’ love affair with Deval Patrick. Massachusetts may want to elect Deval Patrick, not because we agree with his platform, rather we are not comfortable with our state’s history of race relations.

  23. bostonph

    Ugly stuff. The logic seems to be, I disagree with Deval, therefore anyone who supports him is delusional. I feel sick for ever respondeding to Scott’s posts. D R Tucker is not a pleasant guy. His piece on busing is bizarrely inaccurate and the conclusion childish (essentially Garritty is Satan). It appears he got a lot of it from reading Jacoby articles, but still…On a related note. Does anyone understand why otherwise sane adults like Dan and Jay Fitzgerald pay attention to partisan hacks like the Margolis twins? Just following the links from hubpolitics leads to some nasty stuff. Aaron’s PardonMyEnglish site is chock filled with postings bashing immigrants, gays, minorities, and “liberals” (i.e. anyone that disagrees with him/then). Matt’s GOP blogs are devoted to demonizing ALL Democrats. He’s even co-authoring a book: “Caucus of Corruption, the future book written by Matt Margolis and Mark Noonan, which will detail corruption in the Democratic Party.” It’s not clear where he gets this insider insight into a party he openly loathes. I’m unenrolled and voted for all of our Republican governors, but it’s hard not to find the Margolis offensive. People keep comparing HubPolitics to BlueMassGroup, but the BMG guys deviate from the party line every once in awhile and I’ve yet too see them demonizing the opposition.

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