Observers of Massachusetts politics (especially those of us fortunate to live outside the Bay State) often say that we simply can not be shocked, can not be surprised, can not be caught off guard by what they do there. But just when you think they can’t get any more venial, they find a fresh shovel and keep digging.
Currently, the Bay State is politically adrift. For the first time in almost two decades, the Democrats have recaptured the governorship (while never losing their deathgrip on the US Senate seats (100%), US House seats (100%), and the two houses of the legislature (85+%). But the governor is weak (it says volumes when the Boston Globe, who backed him in his campaign, is arguing he needs a “second chance” barely two months into his four-year term), meaning that the hacks and apparatchiks who run the legislature are unchecked to indulge their baser instincts — and they’re pretty damned base.
But currently, the Massachusetts Senate is giving us all lessons in corruption.
The current Senate president, Robert Travaligni, has apparently had enough of politics. Or, at least, public office. He’s expected to resign today to take a high-paying job as a health-care lobbyist. (Just in time for Massachusetts’ “universal health insurance” to kick in and send the commonwealth even further down the toilet.) And if the notion of this guy just waltzing from writing public policy to influencing it, his likely successor is currently being investigated for a scandal involving a whole bunch of state money intended for boosting tourism.
Yeah, I know corrupt politicians are nothing unique to Massachusetts. And other states can claim to have far more colorful, entertaining crooks than the Bay State. And there certainly far more elaborate and and ironic schemes. (Hell, in New Hampshire, our official state book on family law was authored by a former state Supreme Court Justice and US Representative who’s been divorced, at last count, three times.)
But is there anywhere in the country where the corruption is so flagrant, so blatant, so casual as in Massachusetts?
Before you answer, remember one thing: this is the state that gave us Michael Dukakis, John Kerry,and has inflicted Ted Kennedy on the national stage for 45 years.