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Gov Patrick, On Wife's Depression

Governor Deval Patrick says he'll cut back on working evenings and weekends to spend more time with his wife, Diane, who is being treated for exhaustion and depression.
WBUR's Fred Thys reports.

TEXT OF STORY

FRED THYS: At a press conference in Fall River, Governor Patrick explained why he decided to make public his wife's depression.

DEVAL PATRICK: First of all, we're not ashamed of it. Depression is something a lot of people suffer from. It was important to us to be as forthcoming as we could.

FRED THYS: The Governor said he'll decide as he goes how much he'll have to cut back on his work in order to spend more time with his wife.

DEVAL PATRICK: I have been working with my team about how to focus my own time on the things that are most important that I touch, and that I help move, and having the members of the senior staff and the cabinet take more of pieces before this particular event in our lives.

FRED THYS: How Patrick makes his decisions has come under scrutiny through the series of missteps he seems to have taken since taking office. Patrick's political mistakes since taking office have been attributed by various critics to a political tin ear, even to a sense of entitlement. But at a second press conference at the State House yesterday, Patrick seemed to be saying that the problem is that he's been too involved in the details. He said instead of focusing on everything, which is what he likes to do, he's going to have to focus on where he can have the greatest impact. But he admitted that he has other concerns weighing on him now.

DEVAL PATRICK: Listen. My wife is the center of my world.

FRED THYS: Patrick was asked whether Diane Patrick's health was a concern when he decided to run for governor, but he declined to answer the question. Patrick's decision to spend less time working, more time with his wife, met with praise among people rushing to the Park Street T on Boston Common yesterday afternoon. Jim McLynn, from Quincy, wasn't troubled by the fact that Patrick might have to cut back on his long hours some.

JIM MCLYNN: I think the governor's a pretty hard-working guy.

FRED THYS: Patricia, from Cambridge, said we all have personal problems.

PATRICIA: I've gotta give him credit, and his family credit, for actually admitting that there is some depression going on in a family. I don't think it's anything abnormal. I think it's very straightforward, and very honest with the public.

FRED THYS: And Marjorie Williams, from Boston, was not troubled by the fact that Patrick might have to cut back on his workload, either.

MARJORIE WILLIAMS: If that's what it takes for his wife to get back on her feet, then that's what he needs to do. His wife comes first. If his wife loses her mind, he gonna be losing his. He won't be doing any job for anybody.

FRED THYS: While the public seems to want to give Patrick some breathing room, Jeff Berry, a professor of political science at Tufts, doesn't think consideration for Patrick's personal worries will lead the press to give him much a break.

JEFF BERRY: No. I think he gets a few days of grace period, but I think eventually, they're going to focus on the governor's performance and continue to focus on any false steps he's made.

FRED THYS: Patrick asked Massachusetts residents to keep his mistakes in perspective. He says he's learning and improving on the job, but he says, his wife is very much on his mind.

This program aired on March 13, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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