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High-Fives and Dope Slaps: Politicians start the new year with dumb jokes and the potential for cross-party compromise

Posted by Alex Pearlman  January 3, 2012 09:08 AM

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scott brown.jpgBy Jeff Fish

It may be a new year, but some things don’t change as easily as the date on the calendar -- like how people are still complaining about gambling and how Massachusetts has a tradition of running flip-floppers for president.

Speaking of flip-floppers, Mitt Romney’s son brought up the very passe subject of Obama’s birth certificate. Meanwhile, two top Republican officials in the state, Scott Brown and Mass. GOP Chairman Robert A. McGinn, Jr., have shown that they can actually get along with Democrats.

High-Five: Scott Brown wants to compromise on the payroll tax cut extension. I know, actually compromising on something for the good of the country is a novel idea. This move just demonstrates what I’ve said before: You may not agree with Brown on everything, but I think he’s made a real effort to cross partisan lines, and he hasn’t been afraid to stand up to his party when needed.

“We cannot allow rigid partisan ideology and unwillingness to compromise to stand in the way of working together for the good of the American people,” Brown said. I couldn’t have said it better myself. We need more voices like his in the Republican Party.

Dope Slap: Foxborough residents shot down casinos before even hearing a proposal. The Foxborough town meeting regarding a possible casino proposal was a madhouse. I understand people having reservations about having a casino in their town, but to shoot down a proposal before even hearing it is ludicrous.

Opponents believe casinos will attract crime and more traffic that the town’s infrastructure won’t be able to handle. First, I really don’t think the wealthy tourists coming to the casino will be out on the mean streets of Foxborough causing problems. As for traffic, yes, they might have a valid point, but the revenue the town would make from the casinos could be put back into infrastructure. Opponents of the casino are overlooking the vast benefits of building a new casino, including more jobs and more revenue for the town and the state.

High-Five: State GOP Chairman Robert A. McGinn, Jr., donated to Democrats. This high-five is pretty much a non-story -- cases of "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours" are common in politics -- but I thought it was a little amusing. McGinn acknowledged that he has donated to two Democrats in the past: Deval Patrick and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer. The $500 he donated to Patrick at a fundraiser supported the charity One Family Inc., on whose board McGinn sat.

But his $2,400 donation to Schumer is where this high-five lies: McGinn said he agreed with some of the senator's position on trade policy with China. It looks like McGinn, like Brown, is willing to work with Democrats and seek out the positions they have in common. I can’t stress how important that is, especially in a time when we’re seeing less cooperation and bipartisanship.

Dope Slap: Romney’s son went there. He brought up the birth certificate. Seriously, I thought we were done with this ridiculousness. Criticize President Obama all you want for his governing and policy decisions, but questions of his birth never should have and still shouldn’t be a part of public discourse. They're a distraction from the real issues at hand. In fact, that’s exactly what Matt Romney was doing when he made his little wisecrack -- deflecting from his father’s unwillingness to make his tax returns public.

Matt, the second of Romney’s five sons, said he “heard that someone suggested” Romney might release his tax returns if Obama releases his birth certificate. The gaffe was passed off as a joke, but it wasn’t a funny one; it was just stupid. And more importantly, why doesn’t Romney release his tax returns?

High-Five: John Kerry calls Romney a flip-flopper. If this high-five isn’t a case of the pot calling the kettle black, I don’t know what is. Still, Kerry’s criticisms of Romney are absolutely true: “[Romney is] going to have more positions on health care than he does voters,” “Mitt is sort of running against Mitt right now,” and, “There are few people I’ve met in public life who have changed on as many issues as [Romney] has,” Kerry said.

And there’s really nothing more I can say than that I completely agree with him. It’s like Kerry is passing on the flip-flopping torch.

Anyway, Happy New Year! I’m looking forward to seeing what 2012 has in store for us, starting with primary season. The political nerd in me can’t wait.

‘High-Fives and Dope Slaps’ is TNGG Boston’s weekly Tuesday politics column, written by Jeff Fish.

Photo of Scott Brown by McConnell Center (Flickr)

About Jeff -- I'm a senior at Suffolk University, majoring in journalism and political science. I'm the editor-in-chief of my college newspaper, The Suffolk Journal, and I did a six-month co-op at The Boston Globe. I love politics, reading, movies, TV, and anything pop culture. My mind is a font of useless knowledge.

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