If you haven’t listened to Providence Journal commentary page editor Ed Achorn’s inaugural podcast, interviewing Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello (D, Cranston), do so. Because the Projo has decided, for some reason, not to give the podcast a prominent place on its Web site, here it is:
I recommend the episode for a reason that I almost hesitate to admit. I’ve always found Mattiello’s speaking style to be, let’s say, slow and roundabout, like listening to waves come in… if each one were made to go through some long spiral before crashing. But listening to him offer a slow-down explanation for his coolness to the PawSox deal and then expressing his (he says) long-standing sense that the state government lacked the internal expertise not only to implement UHIP, but even to consolidate offices into an Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) in the first place, I have to say it was a relief to hear somebody in state government talk in that way.
Yes, yes, he’s a politician, and staking out ground that is skeptical of government isn’t exactly a risk in his district. And of course, we should be skeptical, ourselves, when his solution isn’t to suggest unraveling the messes completely, but to figure out a way to make them work. Moreover, even if his talk were music to a conservative’s ears, we should still advocate for the other 74 legislators to stop handing the speaker so much power.
All that said, however, and even though he clearly has a sense of government’s role with which I differ to a nearly revolutionary degree, in comparison with the likes of Governor Gina Raimondo, let alone the reckless and ideological blindness of the state’s progressives, Mattiello sounds like an insider who will at least say, “no,” to the insiders’ worst tendencies when outsiders object.
That may not be much, but in Rhode Island, it’s something.