Analysis: Expect Familiar Agenda, Pragmatic Tone In Patrick's Inaugural

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Gov. Deval Patrick, in his State House office (Nicholas Dynan for WBUR)
Gov. Deval Patrick, in his State House office (Nicholas Dynan for WBUR)

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick has said his priorities for his second term are job creation, improving student achievement, cutting health care costs and reducing violence — issues that sound familiar to Boston Globe Columnist Joan Vennochi.

"I went back and read the inaugural speech that he gave four years ago," Vennochi said to WBUR. "He outlined similar goals and a similar agenda in very poetic language. But basically, he was laying out the same agenda. And I think he's got a ways to go before he achieves it, and he realizes that."

The governor will be sworn in Thursday to a second — and, he says, final — term. Though his agenda may be unchanged, Vennochi believes Patrick will employ a different tone for his second inaugural.

"I think he's going to be more pragmatic than poetic," she said. "The last time around he talked about, 'Let's reach for those lofty goals,' a lot of inspirational talk. I think he's wiser. He knows better how Beacon Hill works and he's going to speak to that ethic of what it takes to get the Legislature on the same page as he is so he has some accomplishments."

Patrick won last year's election with a plurality, taking 48 percent of the vote. Vennochi said the political landscape is fickle, and the support that won him a second term could waver, depending on the news of the day.

"A year ago, a lot of people thought that he couldn't win at all, that he was destined to be a one-term governor," Vennochi said. "And when he won by a fairly convincing margin, 6 percent, I think there was a feeling of elation, and a feeling that he had a lot of political capital stored up. But political capital, in which you can feel one moment, in the next minute shifts, and can just disappear."

One goal that could change political perceptions of Patrick is his stated desire to travel more in his second term.

"I think it's a dangerous agenda to start out on," Vennochi said. "People elected him to be governor of the state of Massachusetts, not to run around promoting his book. ... He can have a fairly unpleasant second term if the feeling is his attention isn't focused on Beacon Hill."

This program aired on January 6, 2011.

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Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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