Massachusetts political figures that have speaking parts at the Democratic National Convention include Deval Patrick, John Kerry, Elizabeth Warren, Joseph Kennedy III and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, and Barney Frank will probably be interviewed frequently; Mike Dukakis has also been interviewed.
Why so many Bay Staters?
Reason No. 1 – This is one of Mitt Romney’s four home states and one that he governed for about half of one term. It’s normal for speakers from the state of the other party’s nominee to explain why, based on firsthand knowledge, the nominee is a bum. That role is played by various speakers, including Patrick, who gave a red-hot denunciation of Romney. But I still don’t get the “Democrats-need-to-grow-a-backbone” line. Who is he talking about?
No. 2 – We are a usually reliable blue state. Massachusetts not only consistently has an all-Democratic congressional delegation; it has Democrats in every constitutional office. We contribute big dollars to national candidates. State Treasurer Steve Grossman served as chairman of the national Democratic Party. The executive director of this year’s convention is Steve Kerrigan, of Massachusetts.
Our state’s highest court legalized same-sex marriage. We’re the home of Harvard University, a notorious symbol of free thinkers. We may have been the only state to support anti-war presidential candidate George McGovern, but Ronald Reagan carried the state twice. And there was that special election for U.S. Senate not long ago that didn’t go our way.
No. 3 – The Republicans only had two Massachusetts figures at their convention: Romney and Dr. Kerry Healey, his lieutenant governor. The “Dr.” is her new, stilted affectation; it was used to identify her in the doctor’s first-ever appearance on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” I doubt Stephanopoulos called her that without prompting.
No. 4 – Our political figures run for president. Largely because of our proximity to New Hampshire, we have fielded four presidential candidates in recent years: two, Dukakis and Kerry, won the Democratic nomination but lost the general election; two others, Ted Kennedy and Paul Tsongas, ran but lost the nomination. And then there’s that GOP presidential candidate who won the nomination in Tampa last week. The Kennedy family was especially helpful to President Obama when he was battling Hillary Clinton in 2008.
No. 5 – Our politicians are figures of national interest. Long before he ran for president, Kerry was a major figure in ending the Vietnam War; as a Vietnam veteran his riveting testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 helped turn the nation against that war. The first Catholic priest ever elected to Congress, Robert Drinan was one of the earliest leaders demanding the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.
Frank was named the outstanding freshman in the U.S. House by his colleagues; he was the first member of Congress to declare that he was gay; he went on to shape the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.
Patrick was the second African-American governor ever elected. Warren was a nationally known critic of the the Republican bailouts of Wall Street. Kennedy III, making his first try for public office, is a member of the Democratic Party’s most famous family.
No. 6 – Our candidates support things in the platform that candidates from other states can’t or won’t. Massachusetts Democrats support the state and federal health care reform laws, are pro-choice on abortion, favor tough gun control measures, back same-sex marriage, oppose the death penalty, and are for immigration reform.