So this week, DiMasi broke a two-week silence on the topic with a letter to House members and a series of media interviews. He admitted no wrongdoing, and offered no explanation. Instead, he blamed the media, the Republicans, and unnamed “enemies” for the allegations against him.
His indignation resonates as disingenuous and it is unbecoming. The public has every right to ask whether DiMasi is manipulating the legislative process to benefit his friends. And if he is the target of those who wish to bring him down — well, that can hardly come as a surprise to him.
As recently as this March, when he slew the governor’s casino bill, DiMasi seemed perfectly happy to bask in the media’s coronation of him as the King of Beacon Hill, and at ease with the slings and arrows that come with the crown. He has seen enough of his predecessors rise and fall — from Tom McGee to Tom Finneran — to know that the one on top is always the number-one target.
DiMasi’s dismissive attitude recalls Deval Patrick’s initial defense of his completely inexplicable and egregious phone call on behalf of his friends at Ameriquest early in his term. They both seemed to lack an appreciation of just how powerful they are, and how much legitimate concern the public has over how that power is wielded. For the governor, a political novice, there was at least a dab of plausibility in his claim of being surprised by the reaction to his call. DiMasi has no claim of political naiveté to hide behind.
“Sunlight,” former Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis stated, “is said to be the best of disinfectants.” It is also the best defense. If DiMasi would stop posturing, welcome the Ethics Committee’s investigation, and lead a more open, transparent House, his “enemies” would be unable to stir speculation about what he is doing behind the closed doors.
Like the late Tip O’Neill — who served as Speaker of the Massachusetts House before going to Washington, where he attained leadership of the national House — DiMasi is a proud lunch-bucket Democrat who has been admirable in his support for key progressive measures. O’Neill, in his career, learned that how you do things can be as important as what you do. It’s a lesson the Phoenix hopes DiMasi will take to heart.