The SOTC Address Deval Should Have Given

Going into this evening’s State of the Commonwealth address, Governor Deval Patrick knew that he would have to shine a little light on the dire predicament that Massachusetts and many of its residents find themselves in this winter. In short – he had to make lemonade out of local aid, and talk more about a green economy than the lack of green to float this economy.

Indeed, Patrick found salvation in a euphemistic motto borrowed from his family: “When I was growing up, we were forbidden from calling ourselves ‘poor,” he said. “My grandmother taught us to say we were broke, because ‘broke,’ she said, is temporary.” The governor had such success with this applauded zinger that we thought he should have followed suit for his entire speech. Here’s how that might have sounded:

It’s nice to see you all tonight. I know that it’s a winter wonderland out there, but I’m glad you made the trip anyway. I see Patriots owner Bob Craft; Bob – we all hope that Tom Brady’s boo-boo heals before next season. To legislators like Speaker Sal DiMasi – who’s not bald, but shiny – I appreciate your support as we bravely march through this joyous gauntlet.

We gather tonight under an economic cloud with the greatest chance of rain in three generations. More people than can fill the TD BankNorth Garden – go Celtics – have lost their jobs to a nationwide recession. Banks have money but they won’t lend it unless you ask very nicely. We have unfinished business but happy hour is right around the corner.

In the words of Dr. Benjamin Mays, the legendary president of Morehouse College, “Not failure, but low aim, is sin.” Some will prefer to do as little as possible, to hunker down to wait for better times. Others will urge a more cautious agenda for fear that defeat provides a political advantage to our rivals. I choose a different path. I choose to focus on the good stuff.

Some think that cutting government is always good. But they see only abstractions. Behind every one of those budget line items, I see an eight ball. Teachers and other civil servants are not facing layoffs; they’re looking at extremely long vacations. An increase in meals tax will not be a burden; it will be a delicious expense.

While our trains and buses might be inefficient, the drivers are not stoned; they’re irie. Christy Mihos isn’t in front of the Statehouse right now protesting my administration’s handling of the transportation crisis; he’s expressing how happy he is to not have to deal with it since I whooped him in the last gubernatorial election.

The pension system is an area where a few cookie lovers have put their hands in the jar more than others. Still, our benefits are not being abused; they fell down a flight of stairs. And the ethics of those of us on Beacon Hill are not bankrupt, as some have suggested. On the contrary, much like our Commonwealth, they’re broke.

Finally, I want to remind all of you that together we can’t not. That’s not a regurgitated version of my motto from the campaign trail; it’s recycled.  

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