• Polito: Back to fundamentals for Mass. GOP


    I don't look it now, but at one time I could play a decent game of basketball. When I was about 10-years-old, my parents sent me to a summer sports camp at Worcester Academy. It was there that I was fortunate enough to come under the tutelage of Bob Foley. You may recognize the name. He's now the basketball coach for Saint John's High School in Shrewsbury. Last month, he won his 800th career game, making him the winningest basketball coach in Massachusetts history. Yes, winningest is an actual word.

    Bob Foley taught me and my best friend Bob Pepi how to play basketball and also an important life lesson. I can still hear him now, preaching the importance of fundamentals: dribble, pass and shoot. We would do these drills, over and over. He'd remind us that you can't make fancy shots or execute difficult plays unless you have mastered the fundamentals. You need a firm foundation before you try to build anything. I have carried that lesson into adulthood and many aspects of my life.

    The state's Republican Party could use some serious drilling in the fundamentals. Scott Brown, a very good basketball player, was lucky enough to score a three pointer at the buzzer to win the game, while the Democrats' team was mostly asleep on the court. Unfortunately, the rest of Brown's team bench was not deep with talent. The Democrats came back in the rematch and won big. Why? Because they have the fundamentals down and can make fancy shots. Occasionally, a hot shot Republican will score an upset victory, but Democrats will still dominate.

    When Mitt Romney was governor, he tried to encourage more state Republicans to run for seats in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate on Beacon Hill. Romney knew that he could not get a majority in either house, but he could get enough votes to sustain a veto. That would bring some balance to the domination of this state's politics by one party. His efforts failed and no one has made a concerted effort to try that strategy again. Instead, Republicans are clamoring to find another marquee name to run for John Kerry's former senate seat. Sorry guys, that's a trick shot and you haven't perfected the fundamentals.

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