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Getting traction on incumbents requires developing real issues

Date: 6/18/2012

June 18, 2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

I love politics. I hate politics. Any reporter who covers elected officials or an election would probably agree with me.

What do reporters want? A good story and a little honesty.

I received a press release last week from former State Sen. Andrea Nuciform Jr. who is running against Rep. Richard Neal. Nuciform said he wanted Neal to "side with House Democrats in standing up against extending the Bush-era tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of 2012."

Neal had voted against the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy twice and had spoken against them.

Nuciform made his remarks based on a quote in a story in the June 12 edition of The Hill, a Washington D.C., newspaper. Neal was quoted as saying he "could get on board with a short-term deal that extended all tax rates and didn't implement spending cuts."

So, Neal's sin was to try to make a deal to keep spending cuts from taking place in the short run.

That's not a sin — that's the deal Democrats have to make to try to get a compromise in a Republican-controlled House.

If Nuciform — and I don't mean to pick on him, as many candidates do this — wants to get some real traction against an incumbent, they need to find and develop real issues. This isn't a real issue.


Now, I'm just a rumpled, gorying old ink-stained wretch toiling away in the 108th or so largest media market, but even I understand just what a dumb move CBS reporter Nancy Coders made during a piece on Sen. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren.

In a piece aired on the June 11 edition of "CBS Evening News," Coders asked Brown, "Your opponent says you tried to water down the very financial regulations that would prevent another meltdown."

Brown replied, "Well, with all due respect, as you know, she's had some credibility issues lately."

He didn't answer the question and Coders swiftly changed gears to Warren's Native American problem.

Please don't tell me about a pervasive liberal media bias — and yet I know who is inclined to do so. This reporter let the senator slide and control the conversation.

So far, no one has shown that Warren's actions in the past have either been unlawful or have harmed the public, but that the way the issue has been handled by the campaign and the candidate hasn't been very smart.

As I predicted a few weeks ago, this issue has not gone away and has been a great present to the Brown campaign, which has worked it like a rented mule, as any candidate would.


Here's a little travel tip: when in the mid-Atlantic states if you require either gasoline, food or a clean rest room, head for any establishment with the name of Wawa.

Wawa? Yes, the Pennsylvania-based chain of gas stations/convenience stores are a cut above the competition there, largely because the clean stores offer a menu of food prepared on the spot that really is good. Not "good enough," but really tasty and amazingly varied.

My brother introduced us to the chain a couple of years ago and every time we head to Virginia to see family we make a point to make a daily pilgrimage to Wawa.

In fact, if the money fairy made a substantial deposit under my pillow, I'd be finding out how much a franchise costs.

Disagree? Drop me a line at

or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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