Conventions produce a lot of oddball claims and weird arguments, but last night’s speech by Deval Patrick had one of the strangest I’ve yet heard made. In fact, I had to double-check the transcript and the video this morning to be sure I’d heard it correctly. According to the current elected governor of Massachusetts, contesting Barack Obama’s record and opposing his bid for a second term amounts to bullying:
The list of accomplishments is long, impressive and barely told—even more so when you consider that congressional Republicans have made obstruction itself the centerpiece of their governing strategy. With a record and a vision like that, I will not stand by and let him be bullied out of office—and neither should you[.]
I suppose we should be grateful, since Patrick’s speech was one of the few not to celebrate the Democratic sacrament of abortion. It also fits with the opening theme of the convention, which was Government Owns You And You’d Better Appreciate It (as some at the convention did). This, however, takes the current national obsession with bullying about three quantum leaps into the absurd. Barack Obama ran for office by criticizing the current occupant of the White House and his opponent in the election. Even while George Bush maintains a respectful silence on politics, Obama has spent most of the last four years blaming his predecessor for all the failures of his term. He’s even arguing that Bush was so awful that he should get a pass on being judged for his own job performance in this election — and Patrick has the nerve to claim it’s Obama getting bullied?
And hey, remember when dissent was patriotic?
That’s not the only jaw-dropping claim Patrick made in his speech. Even Dylan Matthews at Ezra Klein’s Washington Post blog pointed out a couple of whoppers in Patrick’s claims, including the entirely spurious accusation that Mitt Romney cut education spending, which increased 41% during Romney’s tenure. But the claim that debating the record of officeholders during a normal election cycle is an argument that elected leaders should be somehow protected from criticism — which is an argument for tyranny, not for freedom. If Democrats can’t defend Obama from the heat of political criticism, then perhaps Obama should take the advice of an earlier Democratic President and stay out of the kitchen of electoral politics — and take Deval Patrick with him.