Cahill Confounds After Drama-Free Debate

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If you're tired of hearing about Loscocco-gate, or the Yobgoblin Affair, or whatever you want to call it, trust me: I feel your pain. I'm tired of writing about it. But the nuttiness that commenced when Paul Loscocco ditched Tim Cahill is still casting a long shadow in the governor's race. The case is still playing out in court. AG Martha Coakley is investigating. Cahill's yanked his controversial MA Treasury ads off the air. And at least one poll suggests that this ongoing gubernatorial subplot might just win the election for incumbent Deval Patrick. 

Which brings me to a brief conversation I had with Cahill this afternoon.  I've had an awfully hard time squaring Tim Cahill's claim that the boundary separating his work as Treasurer from his gubernatorial campaign remained sacrosanct with that damning IM exchange between Dane Strother (who still works for Cahill's gubernatorial campaign as a consultant) and Adam Meldrum (Cahill's ex-campaign manager). As you may remember, Strother told Meldrum that it was time to start running Treasury ads--and that Cahill had given him (Strother) clearance to talk with the ad firm about what those ads would say. 

Today, after the gubernatorial debate at Emerson College, I asked Cahill if Strother's claim was accurate. He replied that Strother was wrong--but then told Janet Wu he hadn't yet discussed this glaring discrepancy with the operative. 

I don't get it. If Strother was factually wrong--and that error is now making Cahill look like a liar--shouldn't the consultant come to his boss's aid by admitting his own (alleged) error? What's more, why did Cahill shift gears midway through and claim (I think) that it doesn't matter whether he talked to Strother or not, because--to paraphrase--everything he did, he did for the Lottery? I know Cahill doesn't want to keep talking about Loscocco-gate, but until he can offer some clearer explanations, he won't have much choice.

Now a word or two about today's debate. Moderator Maria Stephanos opened the proceedings with what struck me as an odd gambit: she berated the candidates for the "drama" that's pervaded the campaign, and basically accused them of betraying voters by dodging serious issues. With all due respect to Stephanos, that characterization is unfair to pretty much the whole field. If you don't know where the candidates stand on taxes or Cape Wind or illegal immigration--or pretty much any other issue--it's not because they haven't been talking about those topics. It's because you haven't been paying attention.

Largely for that reason, I think, the debate--despite a snazzy format that included lots of Tweeting and some solid questions from Emerson students--didn't really produce any breakthroughs. The candidates pretty much struck to their scripts throughout, and I'm hard pressed to remember any standout moments. I can say, though, that Baker sounded fatigued and almost annoyed when he was asked to explain his approach to job creation; that Patrick seemed to be going out of his way to play the part of the sensitive/likable candidate; that Cahill was far too passive for a guy who's running a distant third; and that Stein has endearingly high hopes for green jobs. Of course, we knew this already. Maybe the candidates will find a way to surprise us next time; unlike Stephanos, I'd welcome some new drama. 

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