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November 19, 2015

Professor Ubertaccio and I have both written about the controversy concerning Governor Charlie Baker’s statement about Syrian refugees, which you can find here and here. (ProfessorU did a much better job than I did of untangling the governor’s comments). While the issue and an elected leader’s remarks are serious matters, there is also the chance that politics is involved. For instance, I came around to my piece while noting the furious response to Baker’s remarks by progressives on Twitter, and then seeing that fever reflected in a Boston Globe editorial. It may be a manifestation of EOBDS: Early Onset Baker Derangement Syndrome.

I could be wrong, it’s just an impression. But I do have the sense that while Baker’s approval rating with the general public remains high and few elected Democrats have been criticizing him, activists have been stewing for an issue on which to attack Baker. They’d like leading Democratic politicians to go after Baker too.

So I went over to the popular progressive blog Bluemassgroup.com to sample some of the reaction to Baker’s statement. Poster johnk cheered Congressman Seth Moulton’s remarks and dismissed Baker as “essentially a good looking bureaucrat;” he also called out Baker’s “embarrassment and incompetence.” Poster Sean Roche called the governor gutless and incompetent. BMG co-founder charley-on-the-mta also judged the governor “incompetent” and advised him to “find some guts.”

That’s fine.  BMG is a forum for progressives to voice their policy preferences and passions. Still, it looks like the governor is making them testy.

Progressives have had their successes in moving the debate, in particular the Globe editorial and in remarks from Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton, who tweeted out “It’s a shame that Governor Baker doesn’t know the difference between refugees and those from whom they need refuge.” Professor Ubertaccio declared that one a co-winner of the mid-week award for hyperbole in politics. WGBH’s Adam Reilly did a superb job in detailing that while Democrats were criticizing Baker, many of them were doing so while taking similar positions. From Reilly’s article, here is Governor Baker’s reaction to Congressman Moulton:

“First of all, I doubt that Congressman Moulton actually heard my whole statement--because if he did, I can’t believe that’s what he would have said,” Baker said. “And secondly, I think it’s unfortunate that a serious guy like that went straight to the partisan talking points with respect to how he responded on that, instead of engaging in the serious conversation that I believe we should all be having.”

And here is Congressman Moulton’s rebuttal, again in the form of a Tweet:

But Baker never questioned Moulton’s American values or his Marine Corps service. I don’t get that. Are Baker’s values not American? Does he not respect the Marine Corps? That would put New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, incoming Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, and a lot of other prominent Democrats in an awkward position too.

So back to johnk’s post at BMG: “Moulten (sic) for Governor (or Healey!).”

So yes, politics are involved here. Progressives are the self-proclaimed “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” They are looking for a champion. Congressman Moulton? Attorney General Maura Healey? Congresswoman Katherine Clark? Someone must have the right medicine to treat Early Onset Baker Derangement Syndrome.

bluemassgroup, seth moulton, Charlie Baker

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