Thinking About Power

Rob Meltzer

I think one of the best observations I’ve seen in a long time was a comment Rick made in the paper version of our paper that Congress is filled with two kinds of people–those who write legislation and those who vote on it. Markey fits into the first category, and Lynch fits into the second. Kennedy was the first kind in the Senate, and Kerry was the second kind in the Senate. But there are also two other categories–those who make a difference, and those who pass through.  Kennedy came to the Senate to make a difference, and he did. Obama was passing through. And the corollary is that to make a difference, you need to have power, and to rise in the hierarchy now seems to acquire about 12 years of solid seasoning.

With the loss of Kerry and Kennedy, we’ve got nothing in the Senate now in terms of power. In terms of the Congress, we have Markey, and I’d like to see him stay there. There is no reason to believe that Lynch will change his stripes when he hits the Senate. If Markey gets to the Senate, he won’t amass any real influence until he is 80. Quite frankly, we need a Senator who, in this age of longevity, can count on three terms as our Senator. So if Markey is elected, we lose our best congressman, and get a freshman senator. Not a great swap.

I’d like to take a moment to say a few words about Dan Winslow, a Republican candidate. I knew Winslow as a judge. Like many trial lawyers, he was one of my favorite judges. He had really perfected the art of “judicial listening.” I never walked out of his courtroom wondering if he had heard both sides and would consider every angle.  And he was a process judge–always trying to figure out how to make the system more open and fair to everyone.  When he left the bench, it was a tremendous loss for our judiciary. But now he is running for Senate, and I’m excited for a couple of reasons. First, he is a true Massachusetts liberal Republican, which we need more of. Second, he’s been a judge, which I think is a huge advantage from someone who wants to be a law maker. Its better to make law when you’ve had to work out what the law means.

Winslow is up against two weak Republicans, a couple of weak Democrats, and Markey, who should stay in the Congress. Winslow reminds me to some extent of Scott Brown, who I think was well on the way to being one of our finest Senators. We need his type not only in the Senate, but representing Massachusetts in the Senate.

I hope he gets the attention he deserves.