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For Tim Cahill, playing the victim is all that's left

Posted by Jesse Singal  October 8, 2010 03:58 PM

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cahilll.jpg So, ladies and gentlemen of the political jury, what to make of Treasurer Tim’s headline-grabbing lawsuit against his former aides?

Well, as Clausewitz might have put it, it’s the continuation of politics by other means. That’s not to say that Cahill’s team didn’t act like a band of double-crossing scoundrels. They did. But it was Cahill who hired this team, just as it was Cahill who picked Paul Loscocco to run with him. Given that, he sounds like a man who took up with a crew of pickpockets and is now complaining that his wallet is missing.

During a visit to the Globe today, Cahill portrayed himself as someone who would love to get back to the issues, if not for his duty to stand up to this skullduggery.

‘‘You cannot let these Republican operatives come in here and try to take over this campaign and shift it from one direction to the other using the tactics that they are using,’’ he declared.

Perhaps he’s got a case that his perfidious aides violated their contract. But the idea that what they did has shifted — or has the potential to shift — the political dynamic in the governor’s race is self-serving nonsense.

The reality is that Cahill doesn’t have a chance to win this race and hasn’t for some time. His independent act has fallen flat. His candidacy has been panned as light and superficial. He’s completely unconvincing as a change agent since most of his policy positions are the antithesis of reform. And he’s offered nothing remotely specific about how he would deal with a $2 billion to $2.5 billion budget gap that would be made even bigger if he succeeds in getting the tax cuts he wants.

Beyond that, you have to shake your head at a lawsuit that asks the court to ‘‘order such other relief as is fair and just.’’ (What kind of legal redress does Cahill hope to win? Does he think the court is going to order his ex-advisers to give Loscocco back?)

Further, count me as dubious about the claim that this is all about keeping vital internal Cahill campaign information from being passed to the Republican Governors Association or GOP gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker’s campaign. Maybe his treacherous team made off with secret Cahill campaign memos like ‘‘Sports Metaphors Made Easy’’ or ‘‘Pandering to Police Unions in Three Easy Lessons’’ or ‘‘Slipping the Surly Bonds of Substance: Feints, Ducks, and Dodges for All Occasions.’’

But given that Cahill is languishing far behind in the polls, it’s hard to think they scampered away with a secret plan for winning this contest.

Instead, betrayed by his strategists and abandoned by his running mate, Cahill is playing the victim in an attempt to generate sympathy — and to singe Baker and his campaign in the process. For a few days, at least, that tactic has put him right back in the center of things.

That said, I do feel a little sorry for him. Not sorry in a way that would lead me to vote for a guy whose campaign hasn’t otherwise earned it, mind you. But sorry enough to buy him a beer or two.

If, that is, I knew a place with a bartender like Finley Peter Dunne’s Mr. Dooley, who could pour him a pint even as he imparted a hard truth about public life: Too bad, Tim, but politics ain’t beanbag.

Scot Lehigh can be reached at

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ABOUT THE ANGLE Online commentary and news analysis from the Boston Globe. The Angle is produced by Rob Anderson and Alan Wirzbicki. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @rcand.

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