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A Reason to Believe
Lessons from an Improbable Life
by Gov. Deval Patrick
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:
This book is Deval Patrick's memoir, through his re-election as Governor of Massachusetts in 2010. It is mostly not a political book, but instead the story of his life, which he calls his "Improbable Life." It's "improbable" that he would become Governor of Massachusetts because of his humble beginnings on Chicago's South Side, and a long series of improbable events (scholarship to Milton Academy; stint at the federal Justice Department after law school; corporate executive for Texaco and Coca Cola). This book details that improbable path.
The purpose of this book is twofold. First, it introduces the Massachusetts public to their Governor's personal history. Gov. Patrick did not rise up through the ranks of Democratic Party politics -- he held no elective office prior to the governorship. And second, it lays the groundwork for a future appointment or run for office.
When Sen. John Kerry got appointed to Secretary of State in late 2012, Gov. Patrick was the subject of much speculation about whether he would appoint himself as a Senate "placeholder" until a special election occurred. Gov. Patrick has denied any plans to do so, but certainly a Senate run may be in his future. Gov. Patrick is also a friend of Barack Obama, who may appoint him to a Cabinet role after his governorship ends in 2014 (or before, during the 2013 Cabinet replacements). While there is nothing concrete in the offing, Gov. Patrick is young (under 60; that's young for a politician) and presumably has a long political future.
The "Friend of Obama" part is more than just that both Obama and Patrick are middle-aged inspirational black politicians . The 2008 campaign included a big brouhaha about their common "inspirational" aspect. As detailed on pp. 212-3, Patrick met with Obama prior to Obama's presidential run, and advised Obama to use the phrase "Just Words" since they had served Patrick well. Here is an excerpt of the speech that Patrick used during his gubernatorial run in 2006, in response to his opponent, Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey:
Obama said essentially the exact same thing in 2008 when accused dismissively by Hillary Clinton of having no accomplishments except inspirational speeches. Obama was then accused of plagiarism. Patrick makes it clear in this book that he encouraged Obama to use his phrases (although critics might still say he was covering for Obama after the fact).
In summary, this book is a solid introduction to Governor Patrick's personal history with a good bit of political philosophy and public policy thrown in. it would serve America well if every politician laid it out as clearly as Patrick has.
P.S. Do not confuse this book with a book of the same title by former N.Y. Governor Mario Cuomo
-- Jesse Gordon, jesse@OnTheIssues.org, December 2012
Lessons from an Improbable Life
by Gov. Deval Patrick. Error processing SSI file
Page last edited: Sep 22, 2012