Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick Reflects on the Boston Bombing

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick speaks at an interfaith prayer service for victims of the Boston Marathon attack on April 18, 2013 in Boston. (Spencer Platt/Getty)

On the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick reflects back on what the state and city have learned in the past twelve months. He sat down with Takeaway Host John Hockenberry at WGBH in Boston to discuss the city's response and how the tragic event affected his leadership.


John Hockenberry: What are your thoughts and reflections, a year from that day?

Gov. Deval Patrick: For me the takeaway was how we came together, how the medical teams came together to help and comfort those who were hurt, how law enforcement came together to solve the crime, and how regular citizens came together to show what community looks like.

Hockenberry: We had an argument this morning. Some people were saying, "Wow. Wasn't it amazing that lock down was ordered and everyone did it?" Other people were saying, "No, it was never ordered. People were just invited to participate." Settle this for us. Which one was it?

Gov. Patrick: Well, I asked. I asked out of concern for safety and because we had an awful lot of things happening without knowing the scope or scale of what we were dealing with. It was very, very helpful. And on the whole, people did respect it.

Hockenberry: Now, I don't expect you to claim there was some sort of magic in your particular approach that caused people to comply, it was certainly a function of the events themselves, but it certainly raised your leadership profile nationally, wouldn't you say?

Gov. Patrick: I don't know. I wasn't thinking about that then. I haven't thought about it very much since. I was thinking about what we needed to do to make sure we were all focused—all of us, not just those in an official capacity or with an official role, but that whole community was focused on getting to the bottom of this as quickly as possible and staying safe.

Hockenberry: President Obama suggested your style would be great at the federal level. Is he doing you any favors or is he mostly complicating your life?

Gov. Patrick: He's mostly complicating my life, John. I mean I hadn't been at this job for so long that it doesn't blow my mind when the president of the United States calls you by name and says nice things publicly. I appreciate that, but I think that the real compliment belongs to the team that acted like a team. And to the citizenry who were just marvelous in their consistent and repeated demonstrations of kindness and grace.

Hockenberry: Is a tragedy like the bombing in some sense an easier event to deal with in terms of forming a team, than say something like the policy implications of the launch of Obamacare in the state of Massachusetts, which was a different kind of challenge and maybe didn't go so well from a team perspective.

Gov. Patrick: Two things I'd say: You'd rather not test that thesis because you need a tragedy in order to do so. I will say that when you think about what we've been able to accomplish in the Commonwealth in the last eight years in education and in healthcare coverage, where even with the implementation of Obamacare we have added more than 200,000 to what was already the highest level of healthcare coverage in the country.

What we've been able to do in veteran's services, in infrastructure investment—where we lead the nation we have shown we can work together as a team. I will say that this notion of common destiny as a motivator for common cause is something I feel very strongly about and it's how I've tried to govern. I think that everybody got a glimpse of that and understood that in the midst of that tragedy in, I think, a particularly acute and important way. 

Hockenberry: Thinking back to the bombing now, there was a foreign policy dimension of that story, as well as a domestic policy dimension. What do you think of the second guessing of the Russian information sharing and federal, state, and local information sharing? And how do you as a governor think about home grown radicalization which was a part of what happened, independent of Russia?

Gov. Patrick: First of all, on the second guessing, I think it is inevitable. I knew a year ago about the fact that Russian intelligence had not responded to inquiries from the FBI for more than a year before the event. And of course that is worrisome. But most of what we know today does not necessarily suggest that it was knowledge that could have prevented what happened, which really comes to the second point that you raised about the radicalization of people in our own midst.

Obviously, that is something to be concerned about, but also to be careful about. And the care I mean here is both in terms of how we are alerted to specific acts and specific behaviors without turning that into categorical condemnation or frankly suspicion about whole groups of people.

Hockenberry: Law enforcement might say or maybe the strident voices in the media might say that the only preventable approach would be to act on every tip that the FBI has and maybe round people up and bring them in as a preventive matter for an event like this. Ruling that out, because it's not practical, what is the preventable approach to radicalization?

Gov. Patrick: I do think that it will continue to be a matter of judgement. We need to make sure our law enforcement teams have both the research and the training to exercise that judgement wisely. I am not prepared to trade off the liberties that distinguish us as a country for an absolute permanent lockdown, to use a term that you used earlier, and I don't think most Americans are.

Hockenberry: Finally, you alluded to just how complicated the question of "Are you running for higher office?" makes your life as governor here in the Commonwealth. That issue aside, what do you make of the campaign finance issues in politics for anyone who might be considering running for a federal office? What do you see?

Gov. Patrick: I'm worried about the democracy, and I was worried about our democracy even before the Supreme Court decisions, but they complicate the picture I think even further. We have an electorate certainly here in Massachusetts, and I think it's not unlike much of the rest of the country where an awful lot of people don't participate because they don't think it matters. They don't think they can't get the attention of their elected leaders unless they write a check. I don't think that's what the founders had in mind. I don't think that's what most Americans have in mind in terms of a healthy democracy.

I don't like the decisions of the Supreme Court, but I respect the authority of the Supreme Court to make those decisions. I think they only way they are going to be changed is by Constitutional amendment and we ought to be thinking about that. But beyond that, we need folks who are going to get in to public life and run for public office who have in mind the voice and the interests of the people who cannot write that check. Because that is the only way we are going to get a better government, and we deserve a better government.



Governor Deval Patrick

Produced by:

Allie Ferguson and Elizabeth Ross


T.J. Raphael

Comments [2]

Jack Kelly from Rhode Island

Deval Patrick said, "We share the same fears, the same hopes, the same community," Don't believe a word he says ! Massachusetts has been suffering from commercial wind turbine torture for four years he has done nothing to stop it. Falmouth Massachusetts is ground zero for poorly placed wind turbines in the United States -For the sake of humanity stop the torture !

Apr. 15 2014 08:55 PM
tom LI

I know what I say here is gonna rouse some anger, but...

Im concerned that the US is fast becoming a nation that marks time thru tragedy and not accomplishment/s. Ever since 9-11 all we ever seem to commemorate are tragedies. Be it of course 9-11, or any of a few dozen senseless shootings - at schools, movie theaters, political rallies, Military bases, and/or bombings, or tragic weather events. All we seem to focus on is Commemorating tragedy.

Are there no accomplishments in our recent history? Are we becoming a nation that has nothing positive to cheer? Several more million people now have health care and among them a few million might not suffer in their illnesses...isnt that something to celebrate? Or cant we see positive in these things due to all the vilification spewed by our elected officials?

Im saddened not only by these tragic events, but that we seem to be a nation marking time (and congratulating ourselves in a perverse way) with nothing but tragedy. What will that look like in another few years? What will our children be doing in ten years with all this? How long can we sustain a near universal "We'll never forget..." attitude when the events are 2-3 dozen list long...?

Apr. 15 2014 04:20 PM

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