Those who wonder what to expect from a Barack Obama White House should start paying attention to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, currently the nation's only elected black governor.
Governor Patrick and Senator Barack Obama have long been close friends and political allies. In fact, Obama was recently accused of plagiarism for excessively "borrowing" from a speech Deval Patrick delivered during the 2006 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign. Obama even modeled his campaign motto "Yes, We Can" on the Patrick campaign's motto "Together We Can" although Patrick did not have a Spanish language version, as Obama does ("Si, se puede").
Deval Patrick was born and raised in Chicago's South Side, near where Barack Obama now lives. In the eighth grade, he won a minority scholarship to prestigious Milton Academy in Massachusetts, and from there went on to Harvard University and Harvard Law School.
After law school, Patrick worked for the NAACP where he befriended then Governor Bill Clinton when the NAACP sued the state of Arkansas over an alleged voting rights violation. He then joined, and eventually became a partner, in the respected Boston law firm of Hill & Barlow (famous for having represented Sacco & Vanzetti). In 1993, after Lani Guinier's nomination for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights collapsed, President Clinton offered the position to Deval Patrick.
"You have had the best that American education can give you," said Senator Diane Feinstein to Deval Patrick during his confirmation hearings. "You are articulate. You are handsome. You are young. You have the opportunity to provide a unique level of leadership."
What was most strikingly unique about Assistant Attorney General Deval Patrick's leadership was the degree to which he used the power of his office to intimidate American citizens into conforming with his vision of civil rights. Patrick knew well that most cities, towns and small businesses cannot afford to defend themselves against a Justice Department lawsuit. All it often took was for Patrick to initiate a Justice Department "probe" of some civil organization, and then he could bend it to his vision of justice.
During his confirmation hearings, of course, Deval Patrick claimed that he did not believe in racial quotas. But once confirmed, Patrick arrogantly began to impose racial preferences in the guise of law enforcement. He was especially opposed to cognitive examinations for prospective police officers and firemen alleging that they result in an unjustly high failure rate for black applicants. Patrick then tried to force municipalities to adopt a Justice Department-approved employment exam that amounted to a non-cognitive personality test (much of it administered by video). The exam was specifically designed to assure a high score among minority test takers. In fact, the vice president of the company that produced the test (Aon Consulting, Inc) described it as "more than satisfactory if you assume a cop will never have to write a coherent sentence or interpret what someone else has written." [Testimony Of Linda S. Gottfredson, MAY 20, 1997]
The exam questions remain secret, except for two sample questions:
were in high school, you were a member of a sports team.
Which of the
following statements is most like you – A or B?
A. I'm always in a hurry at work to get things done.
B. At work, I think of myself as part of a smooth running machine.
Some local governments capitulated and adopted some form of the exam. But a few fought back. The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division had to reimburse the city of Torrance, CA $1.8 million in legal fees after suing them for alleged discriminatory hiring and losing.
Most troubling of all, however, was Deval Patrick's involvement with Piscataway v. Taxman. In 1989, the Piscataway, New Jersey Board of Education decided to lay off faculty due to declining enrollment. Their standard practice had been to lay off teachers with the least seniority, and if there were two teachers of equal seniority, to cast lots. However, in this case, there was a choice between a white teacher and a black teacher who had both been hired on the same day and worked in the same department. Rather than toss a coin, administrators fired the white teacher, Sharon Taxman, and retained the black teacher for the sake of "faculty diversity." Moreover, they sought to preserve not just the diversity of the overall school faculty, but of the individual department itself (business education). Ms. Taxman then sued and the Justice Department under President George H.W. Bush supported her claim. The courts eventually ruled in Taxman's favor and ordered that she be rehired and paid $144,000 in back pay.
However, the Piscataway Board of Education appealed and when the Clinton Justice Department inherited the case in 1994, Assistant Attorney General Deval Patrick ordered the Justice Department to reverse itself and take the side of the Piscataway Board of Education against Sharon Taxman. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals, however, was not impressed with this reversal and they terminated the Justice Department's role as a co-plaintiff in the case.
So fanatical was Deval Patrick in his desire to take Sharon Taxman's job that he forced the Justice Department to back a case that was a sure loser. In fact, the NAACP later had to persuade the Piscataway Board of Education to drop a proposed appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court because their likely defeat might have proven a death blow to affirmative action. The Rev. Jesse Jackson and the NAACP also quickly helped to raise a large settlement for Sharon Taxman.
The Taxman case is no doubt the reason Patrick's successor, Bill Lann Lee, had to settle for a recess appointment at the Justice Department after the Senate showed zero interest in confirming him. Indeed, Senator Orrin Hatch gave a speech on the Senate floor claiming that he could not support the nomination of another "liberal civil rights ideologue" like Deval Patrick. [November 4, 1997,]
After leaving the Justice Department, Patrick returned to private practice in Boston and began making a good living off discrimination lawsuits. Indeed, the curious thing about Deval Patrick is his habit of suing an organization for discrimination, then parlaying the relationship into a coveted position with the same organization later on, just as he once worked on a lawsuit against Governor Bill Clinton, and then later acquired a federal appointment after Clinton became president.
For example, in 1997 Deval Patrick chaired the task force that administered the settlement of a $176 million racial discrimination lawsuit against Texaco, then the largest ever settlement of its kind. While Patrick was still on the task force, however, Texaco's CEO offered him the position of vice-president and general counsel, with oversight over Texaco's hiring practices. As Assistant Attorney General, Patrick sued several alleged "discriminatory lenders" such as Fleet Bank and Ameriquest Mortgage – "Loans should be based on risk, not race" said Patrick at the time. But several years later he joined the board of directors of Ameriquest's parent company, ACC Capital Holdings, earning $360,000 a year for apparently little work. This, despite the fact that Ameriquest is alleged to be one of the most egregious "predatory lenders" in the country.
On immigration, Deval Patrick is about as open borders as any public official in the country. Patrick supports multilingual voting ballots ("minority languages" as he calls them), drivers licenses and in-state tuition for illegal aliens, and a state-wide sanctuary policy. His predecessor, Governor Mitt Romney, had initiated an agreement with the federal government to allow certain state troopers to determine if arrested criminal suspects are illegal aliens. But within days of taking office, Governor Patrick withdrew the state from the program.
In 1994, when the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR) was campaigning for Proposition 187, then Assistant Attorney General Deval Patrick sent the FBI to interview its leader, Barbara Coe, on the grounds that CCIR planned to engage in "voter intimidation." The source of the allegation was a letter sent by the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) to Patrick's office accusing Coe and CCIR of conspiring to violate the Voting Rights Act. The purported violation was a plan to hold signs near polling places that reminded people that it is a crime for non-citizens to vote.
In due course, then, and without warning, two FBI agents knocked on the front door of Mrs. Coe's home and grilled her on Proposition 187, her organizational tactics, and even asked if her children supported her positions. Coe was so appalled that she demanded that the agents leave her home.
In contrast, some Latino groups publicly threatened actual violence if Proposition 187 ever passed. (It did pass, but Gray Davis sabotaged it. )But Deval Patrick never investigated them for voter intimidation.
All of these facts were largely glossed over or buried when Deval Patrick ran for governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2006. Indeed, the local intelligentsia had placed enormous pressure on the voters to elect a black governor. The general attitude, as expressed in particular by the establishmentarian Boston Globe, was that electing Deval Patrick would allow the state, and the city of Boston in particular, to put a large part of its racist past behind it and give the region an opportunity to "move forward."
Now it's no secret that the practice of racial guilt mongering is stronger in Massachusetts than in most places. Many claim it stems from Boston's forced busing imbroglio of the 1970s. However, the truth is the politics of racial guilt have long been a part of the academic and elitist culture of Massachusetts. It was actually more a cause, than a consequence, of the experiment in forced busing. Moreover, the Bay State liberals who indulge such racial paternalism do not feel guilty personally—they just like to remind themselves that others are not as open-minded as they.
In other words, Deval Patrick's job is not so much to govern, but to advertise the open-mindedness of his supporters. Perhaps that helps to explain why Governor Patrick has been largely manhandled by the Massachusetts political establishment, despite the fact that his party holds an enormous majority in the state legislature. His tenure in office has thus far been a series of embarrassing moments.
Deval Patrick, like Barack Obama, campaigned as a "bridge builder" who would put an end to "politics as usual." The biggest problem with black elites, however, is that they tend to have an even stronger sense of entitlement than white elites. And if Deval Patrick has an Achilles heel, it is his enormous ego and sense of entitlement.
Unlike his predecessors, Governor Patrick chose to have not one, but seven inaugural receptions for himself across the Commonwealth. He then quickly upgraded the governor's state car from a Chrysler Crown Victoria to a much more expensive Cadillac Deville—earning him the moniker "Deville Patrick" from one local pundit. And when he tires of getting chauffeured around in his new Cadillac, Governor Patrick likes to use the state police helicopter to fly across tiny Massachusetts. In his first month in office, Patrick used the state police helicopter more than his predecessor did during the previous four years. (The state's last Democratic governor, Mike Dukakis, preferred to ride the subway to work.)
Most embarrassing of all has been Deval Patrick's grand plan to reduce the commonwealth's billion dollar budget deficit: a proposal to have statewide casino gambling. This very controversial proposal went virtually unmentioned during the campaign, and Governor Patrick was incapable of making any sensible case for it. Soon many citizens began to wonder how our "bridge builder" of a governor could have such a tin ear toward the electorate.
Certainly, no one was surprised when the Democratically-controlled legislature crushed Governor Patrick's casino proposal last spring. What surprised people was how indifferent he seemed to the defeat. Indeed, on the very day of the vote, Deval Patrick flew to Manhattan to negotiate a $1.35 million book deal for his life story. Even better, in his pitch letter, Patrick boasted of his enormous popularity, claiming that "I was able to fill the Boston Common recently with ten thousand people eager to hear my dreams for the future." Patrick was actually referring to the moment last fall when 10,000 people showed up at a Barack Obama campaign rally and he introduced the senator to the assembled crowd.
However, Deval Patrick's latest proposal, the "Commonwealth Compact," is the one that should worry us the most. It was devised by Patrick and a group of local academics and business leaders and its stated mission is to "establish Massachusetts as a uniquely inclusive, honest and supportive community of—and for—diverse people." The Compact requires employers to commit to a diverse workplace and to post online the race data of their current workforce and new hires. Employers are not actually forced to sign on, but who can doubt they will feel pressured to do so, especially if Governor Patrick requires state contractors to be signatories.
One obvious impact of such forced racial preferences is to accelerate the growing exodus of citizens from the state. Indeed, despite its rich history Massachusetts has long been among the country's worst in terms of retaining its residents. I call them "Bay State Refugees" (and I am certainly one of them). Some 2.2 million native-born Bay Staters now live elsewhere. And the commonwealth is attracting fewer transplants from other states.
The most oft-cited reason for this "mass emigration" is the state's high cost of living. But the media will never mention the fact that the state's increasing diversity has also driven many to abandon it for good. Some 200,000 immigrants have moved into the Boston area since 2000 alone, pushing the state population up to nearly 15% foreign born. Tellingly, perhaps the most popular destination for Bay State Refugees is New Hampshire, with its low taxes, low cost of living, and low diversity.
Deval Patrick has no plans to stick around either. Rumor has it that he is already eyeing a position in future President Barack Obama's Cabinet. Most likely, he is seeking to become the first black Attorney General in American history.
So if you are wondering just what to expect from a Barack Obama White House, just contemplate having an arrogant, aggressive racial bean counter like Deval Patrick as the top law enforcement official in the country.
Matthew Richer (email him) is a writer living in Massachusetts. He is the former American Editor of Right NOW magazine.