Mitt’s thorny threesome

By ADAM REILLY  |  August 22, 2007

Judging from all those Tom Frank name-checks, though, we’re not Keller’s target audience; national conservatives are. And they’re going to eat this book up. “Massachusetts” is already national-conservative shorthand for the purported evils of Democrats and liberalism; there’s a presidential election looming; and a candidate from Massachusetts is in the race. If John Kerry were running again, or if Boston were hosting the DNC again, The Bluest State’s prospects might be even brighter. But as it is, Keller’s literary stars are nicely aligned.

Back to Mitt. Even if Romney barely rated a mention in The Bluest State, this aforementioned Massachusetts-as-political-poison argument would be a huge boon to his campaign. After all, if Massachusetts is really that bad, it’s silly to fret over the fact that Romney didn’t actually get that much done during his governorship; meanwhile, even mundane accomplishments take on a heroic sheen.

But Keller does spend a while on Romney — and our ex-governor should be grateful. The Bluest State begins with a famous line from his 1994 Senate campaign against Ted Kennedy, uttered while Romney was campaigning in Dorchester: “Someone said, ‘This is Kennedy country.’ . . . And I looked around and I saw boarded-up buildings, and I saw jobs leaving, and I said, ‘It looks like it.’ ” (Keller heartily approves.) Later, in a chapter tellingly titled “Cattle Rancher among the Vegetarians,” Keller depicts Romney as a wholesome, well-intentioned reformer who finds himself politically hamstrung by an obstinate Democratic establishment.

There’s an asterisk or two: Keller notes Romney’s rightward drift on social issues, and suggests that, if the ex-governor had been more focused on Massachusetts, he might have gotten more done for the state. But if the state is as fucked up as Keller claims — and if, as he says, the Democratic establishment “gratuitously shunned Romney and his ideas” — who can blame him for not sticking around?

For his part, Keller insists that Romney won’t be able to use The Bluest State as a campaign prop. “Lately, I’ve been hearing [Romney] talk about how he was able to work with this overwhelmingly Democratic establishment to get things done — i.e., the new Massachusetts health-care plan,” he tells the Phoenix. “If that’s going to be his spin, my reporting undercuts that: I’m saying, ‘No, he didn’t work together with anyone; basically, there was a confluence of self-interest.’ ”

“My main interest in Romney is as a way of illustrating dysfunction in the political culture here,” adds Keller. “Perhaps he comes off better than he might in some other context. But if he thinks he’s going to use my book as a selling point for himself nationally, I don’t think that’s going to go very far if people actually read it.”

Time will tell. For now, a prediction: if The Bluest State gets anything close to the reception What’s the Matter with Kansas? had a few years back, Romney stands to benefit quite a bit — unless the author himself takes pains to round out the Romney record.

Eclipsing the rising son
Next up: September Dawn, a luxuriantly violent historical drama based on the September 11, 1857, Mountain Meadows massacre, in which some 120 non-Mormon settlers crossing Utah Territory were killed by Mormon militiamen and their local Indian allies. The brunt of the killings took place after a group of Mormons promised to escort the settlers (whom they’d just disarmed) to safety. Instead — shades of Srebrenica — the escorts slaughtered their wards en masse, sparing only a few young children whom they subsequently raised.

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |   next >
Related: The passion of the candidate, The Mormonator, Feeding the rabid right, More more >
  Topics: Media -- Dont Quote Me , Deval Patrick, John Kerry, Robert Novak,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY ADAM REILLY
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   BULLY FOR BU!  |  March 12, 2010
    After six years at the Phoenix , I recently got my first pre-emptive libel threat. It came, most unexpectedly, from an investigative reporter. And beyond the fact that this struck me as a blatant attempt at intimidation, it demonstrated how tricky journalism's new, collaboration-driven future could be.
  •   STOP THE QUINN-SANITY!  |  March 03, 2010
    The year is still young, but when the time comes to look back at 2010's media lowlights, the embarrassing demise of Sally Quinn's Washington Post column, "The Party," will almost certainly rank near the top of the list.
  •   RIGHT CLICK  |  February 19, 2010
    Back in February 2007, a few months after a political neophyte named Deval Patrick cruised to victory in the Massachusetts governor's race with help from a political blog named Blue Mass Group (BMG) — which whipped up pro-Patrick sentiment while aggressively rebutting the governor-to-be's critics — I sized up a recent conservative entry in the local blogosphere.
  •   RANSOM NOTES  |  February 12, 2010
    While reporting from Afghanistan two years ago, David Rohde became, for the second time in his career, an unwilling participant rather than an observer. On October 29, 1995, Rohde had been arrested by Bosnian Serbs. And then in November 2008, Rohde and two Afghan colleagues were en route to an interview with a Taliban commander when they were kidnapped.
  •   POOR RECEPTION  |  February 08, 2010
    The right loves to rant against the "liberal-media elite," but there's one key media sector where the conservative id reigns supreme: talk radio.

 See all articles by: ADAM REILLY