Friday, April 29, 2005

Death: Romney's New Priority

I was all set to talk about Governor Romney's recent push to reinstate the death penalty, but then I realized that Cape Cod Works said almost exactly what I wanted, better than I could have phrased it.

Governor Romney, finally returning from campaign appearances in other states, has unveiled his new initiative to solve what ails us in Massachusetts.

A foolproof death penalty bill.

Hmmmmm. As I have worked through the last months or so, I've come across a bunch of problems I had hoped the state legislature and governor were working on: how to cover the 540,000 Massachusetts residents who have no health insurance; how to help the towns on Cape Cod avoid massive and major budget overrides; drug treatment diversions from the criminal justice/incarceration system; how to get free lunches to low income kids once they're out of school for the summer; the vanishing affordable housing on Cape Cod and in Massachusetts; and plenty more.
And it's true. What pressing problem does the death penalty solve in Massachusetts? Not to be glib, but are we really facing an epidemic of deadly acts of terrorism, killing sprees or murders involving torture? Why would Romney bring this up now, if not to bolster his conservative bona fides before 2008? Compare this to what Romney said about his priorities this year in his radio ad campaign (mp3):
This can be another year of action in the legislature. You'll be hearing me on the radio talking about my ideas like market-based health insurance for everyone. We can create great schools by finishing the job of education reform. And we can make Massachusetts a truly job-friendly state.
Notice the lack of the death penalty among his priorities. Notice also how it is not even tangentially related to any of them, unless you count the fact that prisoners who are executed will no longer need health insurance.

If the past two years is any indication, Governor Romney will send out a couple more press releases, yap about it on the airwaves and then, after being repudiated by the legislature, he'll promptly forget about it and move on to something else -- never quite having accomplished more than a Powerpoint presentation and a press conference.