Thursday, March 11, 2010
For those who take their coffee with a strong dose of political commentary, this year’s Starting Line event, hosted by CommonWealth magazine, was a double espresso.
Beginning with the Brown election (“it’s still settling in”) to its impact on the governor’s race (“who benefits?”) to talk of a republican uprising at the State House, MassINC’s annual political breakfast provided fast talk on what promises to be one of the most stimulating political seasons in years.
The panel, moderated by CommonWealth Editor and former Globe political editor, Bruce Mohl, consisted of: Scot Lehigh, political columnist for the Boston Globe; Hillary Chabot, political reporter for the Boston Herald; Craig Sandler, of the State House News Service; and Janet Wu, political reporter for WCVB-TV (Channel 5). While it was billed as “the low-down” on what’s ahead in politics this year, the event was more “high-level” analysis of a complex political landscape framed by thoughtful journalists who did a fine job of making sense of what’s ahead as well as what just happened. Some discussion highlights include:
- Was the Brown election all about timing and a truck or was it a national bell-weather for voter resentment and a dramatic lurch to the right?
- How should the gubernatorial candidates respond? Will the Governor’s subtle retreat from his labor base, a “have it both ways” approach to casinos, and a steady, managerial image allow him to stay above the madding crowd? And, by the way, can the guy catch a break? (Lehigh – “His record’s not so bad.”)
- How does Baker capitalize on this potential conservative shift—even as his rift with Romney and more traditional republicans is well known?
- Are voters feeling revolutionary enough to pass the tax roll-back initiative?
- Incumbent bailouts, republican challengers and leadership shake-ups: What do we make of the political anxiety on Beacon Hill?
Praise and appreciation go out to all of the panelists who pondered these questions with oratory skill, keen insight, and humor. Kudos as well for sharp audience questions including the most obvious: “Who’s going to win the Governor’s race? And if you were the guy running the show, what would you do?” Though momentarily stumped, the panelists each came through with thoughtful predictions – and honesty – such as Hillary Chabot who jokingly reprised herself. She told the audience she had lost all credibility on incorrectly calling the last one. As Craig Sandler pointed out, she was not alone.