There’s a cute scene in the movie Old School in which the Vince Vaughn character covers his young son’s ears with his hands, referring to it as “earmuffs”, so that he and his friends can have an adult conversation.
And I have to admit – the first time I read Deval Patrick’s November 29th comments to the Worcester Economic Club in which he defended his three-casino plan by claiming that all he’s heard “is the emotional argument” – the first thing to come to mind was the image of our governor, thoroughly earmuffed and possibly signing, “La la la la la la la…” in a sort of silly effort to drown out the commotion created by mounting financial evidence that counting on casino revenues is risky business.
I’m not going to lie – I’m a little worried about the Governor. I mean, why has he only heard "the emotional argument?"
Could Deval’s advisors be pulling the earmuffs down over his ears while they engage in adult conversation with moneyed casino investors, the State Treasurer and other interested parties? Instead of the whole picture, are they feeding the Governor only the “emotional” highlights of the casino debate – you know, like gambling addiction, child neglect, domestic abuse, bankruptcies, foreclosure and suicide – none of which obviously concerns him outside of the obligation to stuff a couple of big bills in the mitigation kettle.
Or is he otherwise too busy daydreaming about his future to listen? Do visions of high-profile cabinet positions, multi-page spreads in Newsweek, long walks with Oprah and a boundless political future dance like so many sugar plums in his head while the Commonwealth gets flushed down the same pro-casino toilet which has swept away states like Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island - while leaving them with higher taxes and dependant on gambling revenue?
Or maybe it all has to do with the ladies. The League of Women Voters has, ever since the early 80’s, maintained that banking on legalized gambling is bad tax policy. (And you know how emotional women can be… ) Perhaps Deval has turned a deaf ear to the League and what they're saying in the letter they hand-deliver to his office every day in much the same way he’s learned to tune out his wife’s daily description of the drapes she’d like to buy for the dining room. Oh wait a minute – Deval is into drapes.
While in DC not long ago, I found myself in conversation about Deval’s recently released casino plan with a nice attorney from slot-torn Philadelphia, who struggled to comprehend how a fellow lawyer, not to mention Harvard graduate, could think that casino gambling could actually benefit any state in the long-term.
“He must be smart, right? I mean, he can’t be stupid, can he?”
I found I couldn’t offer him any more than a blank stare.
Since May I’ve watched a lot of lawyers do the casino rain dance, from Middleboro selectman Adam Bond, to so-called Tribal law experts, to the Tribe's lawyers, to the Governor of Massachusetts, and I’m not sure any of them are actually stupid – but I’m pretty sure they think the rest of us are.