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

Healey’s nonexistent narrative

A disadvantage to recording the gubernatorial debates for later listening in the Media Nationmobile is that I still don’t know what happened, except second-hand. Seth Gitell’s take strikes me as characteristically sharp. Check out what he says about Kerry Healey:

My only interpretation of this unprecedented campaign: that is, a candidacy where the candidate never introduces herself, never runs an ad telling the public about her background, gives voters no “story” or “narrative” to latch on about who she is. That is always my first question in writing political profiles. All candidates need to lay this positive foundation so they can weather the difficulties of a political campaign — and give voters a reason to vote for them. Either Healey’s advisers are unaware of this basic fact or something is blocking the Healey campaign — or the candidate herself — from telling this story. I have a couple theories about this. One is that her campaign team has no confidence in any story Healey would tell pro-actively. Another is that Healey has difficulty talking about herself.

OK, that’s more about Healey’s stunningly negative ads than about the debate, but there you go.

What Healey’s doing isn’t working. Adam Reilly was among those who pointed to a new Wall Street Journal poll showing that Deval Patrick’s actually gaining again following a rocky couple of weeks. His lead is now more than 22 points. Another round of attack ads isn’t going to do it for Healey.

Earlier today I was talking with a fellow political junkie. Her take was that Healey should have differentiated herself from Mitt Romney early on — come out foursquare for same-sex marriage and made it clear that she’s a moderate Republican in the Bill Weld mold. That’s who we all suspect she really is. Yet she spends 99 percent of her energy pandering to the tiny number of people who call radio talk shows.

If I’d been advising Healey, I’d have told her that she was probably going to lose, but that she should do everything she could to establish herself as a likable, moderate, competent alternative should Patrick self-destruct. And if he cruised to victory — well, there are worse things than losing.

Like destroying your own reputation, as Healey is doing right now.

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Net loss at the Globe


Coloring the debate


  1. Anonymous

    It is in accurate for Seth to write that Healey hasn’t had any positive campaign ads or introductory campaign ads. She has had a few of them. Either Seth wasn’t watching the race or didn’t see the ads. I clearly saw them.

  2. D. Sands

    Good points.And, ahem. It’s called TiVo.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    D. Sands — Actually, it’s called (1) playing the WBUR stream through iTunes; (2) capturing the stream and converting it to AAC via WireTap Pro; (3) transferring it to my iPod; (4) playing it through my car radio with iTrip.

  4. Steve

    What politzine said. Healey did run at least one “introductory” ad early in the campaign – right after the Democratic primary. Pretty bland stuff, trying to establish her as someone who grew up middle class (not rich) and worked on But it didn’t stay around very long.All her ads are here. I think the one I remember is the middle one in the last row.

  5. Mike from Norwell

    Dan, I’d go with D. Sands here. Audio is nice, but body language and visuals are half the point (remember the Nixon/Kennedy debate in ’60? those listening thought Nixon won; those watching thought Kennedy won).As an aside, not trying to be picky here, but started watching the debate on Channel 7’s HD feed, but after Mihos was on, had to switch back to the regular channel. I can see now why so many actors/actresses are terrified of HDTV!

  6. mike_b1

    Told you those Willie Horton ads would backfire on Healey. Memories are long in these parts.

  7. Anonymous

    An aside: I’ve always wondered on that old Kennedy-Nixon debate bromide whether the differing perspective of radio vs. TV viewers was less about Handsome Jack vs. Sweaty Unshaven Tricky Dick than it was about the demographics of who would have been listening on radio (old, rural) vs. who was watching TV (younger, urban) in 1960.Bob in Peabody

  8. Anonymous

    healey does have one ad in which she seems to be running WITH Patrick, talking about how they agree on 3 or 4 things (stem cells, abortion). its kinda funny really — she’s running with deval and against him at the same time. healey needs to fire that worhtless schmuck o’brien and run 2 weeks’ worth of positive ads about herself and position herself for the next run = congress, maybe. else she’s going to be just another unhirable jane swift.

  9. o-fish-l

    “Earlier today I was talking with a fellow political junkie. Her take was that Healey should have differentiated herself from Mitt Romney early on — come out foursquare for same-sex marriage and made it clear that she’s a moderate Republican in the Bill Weld mold.”Please Dan, maybe she should have come out for partial birth abortion and for in-state tuiton for illegals too. Many want a clear alterntaive, not “Deval Light.”As for the libs here offering unsolicited advice to Healey on her ad campaign, that’s comical. Apparently the LeGeur ad is working. Healey would be wise to throw-in an ad about Deval recently barbecuing with David Scondras too. Not just for Scondras’ most recent attempt at child rape, but also for employing known members of NAMBLA on his City Council payroll. There’s an old Irish saying, “Show me your company and I’ll tell you what you are.” LeGeur, Scondras, Sigh…the public needs to know this and more about Deval.

  10. Dan Kennedy

    Fish — How soon you forget. Weld won twice as a moderate. Cellucci won as a moderate. Romney won as a pretend moderate. Healey is running way to the right, and apparently the Suffolk/Channel 7 poll will show that she’s down by more than 20 points.

  11. Anonymous

    fish, lets talk about healey’s “company:” signing a certificate of merit for that worthless scummy whitey bulger legbreaker ed macKenzie … declaring this con man who’s ripping off a beacon hill church a paragon? how about romney himself — absentee guv who runs around the country dissing his own state and cozies up to christian extremists who believe in creationism during a one-night-stand in mass. guys in orange jumpsuits frightening a 12-yr-old? (see tues herald). nice friends. and on it goes. even her beverly neighbors wont vote for her. meanwhile, who is kerry healey? oh yeah – she’s the candidate who says if you dont vote for her women will get raped in garages. youre right: an ad about how a vote for patrick is also a vote for child abusers would be just the ticket. i’d never vote for deval but healey has blown it and all that’s left in a write-in for gabrieli.

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