Coakley the Chin attacks more thin than win

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In this era of talk show politics, candidates have learned that they can draw attention by attacking opponents early and often. Attention practically erupts when the attacking comes from a surprise direction. It was so, yesterday, when Martha Coakley attcked Charlie Baker for — so she claimed — opposing the minimum wage hike now awaiting enactment by our legislature. Who expected to hear Coakley, the poster child for dull campaigning, signing chin music ?

Coakley’s attack certainly got Baker’s attention. His spokesman Tim Buckley shot back a quick response : that Baker is “open to raising the state’s minimum wage but aslo has other suggestions for putting more money in low-wage workers’ wallets : increasing the earned income tax credit and assuring such workers of longer hours.

To the knee jerk ear Baker’s response sounds like waffling. it isn’t. His earned income tax credot increase is a solid idea, and so is his assurance of longer hours. Too many minimum wage workers aren’t given a 40 hour work week. An employer doesn’t have to provide healh insurance and othetr benefits to workers on the job less than full time; many employers who pay low wages also use the short hours system to avoid incurring benefits. Voters who take the time to think seriously about Baker’s wage and employment ideas will find them quite reform=-minded.


^ a smile on his face : “thank you, Chin, for attacking me !”:

Coakley’s attack, on the other hand, came sucker-punch fashion : slam bang and out. No policy nuance, no ideation, just the one raise the wage do-it. I am all for raising the minimum wage gto # 11.00 an hoiur; we at Here and Sphere have editorialized often in favor of the raise, and we will probably say so again and again. But is “raise up” the only move worth making ? Why should it be ?
Moreover, Coakley added the two talking points being talked by all the standard-issue Democrats : the rause is “good for working families” and “Baker favors the top one percent.” This is dumb stuff. Coakley must know better. I get the impression, actually,l that her attack wasn’t directed at baker at all but a her Democratyic rivals. Coaklehy isn’t runnihg against baker right now;. She is running against Steve grossman, Juliette Kayyem, Don Berwick, and Joe Avellone. Her by-the-book talking points are what Democratic Primary — not November election — voters like to hear.

Coakley must think that by attacking Baker, she’ll be heard first (and she has been) and maybe foremost and that her rivals will have to play catch-up — somehow: because they can’t catch up by attacking Baker : that would look to voters like copy-catting and, well, catching up. We will soon find out how Kayyem, Berwick, Grossman, and Avellone respond to Coakley’s two-bank billiard shot. The winner, one hopes, will be the Coakley rivals who refiuse to play her game at all; who continue to present their own issues and agendas, in their own time and place, gathering support at the upcoming caucuses from activists who want a confident winner, not an attack game tactician. But I could be wrong.

As for Baker, he should send Coakley a thank-you gift. To be attacked so loudly, by such a lamed candidate, this early as the caucvus and convention season ios about to begin, is a blessing. Baker has to be smiling a big smile as I write this column tonight.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

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