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Despite his offensive remarks and occasional lapses in tact, John R. Silber would be an effective and innovative governor, Cambridge's state senator told a small audience yesterday at the Institute of Politics.
Silber's "rhetorical flourishes... are irrelevant to his administration," said Democrat Michael J. Barrett '70 in an informal talk. "That editorializing could not possibly translate itself into legislative action."
Silber, who has been accused of making racial slurs--is not as extreme as his rhetoric would suggest, Barrett said, adding that Silber is more liberal than many people think.
"[Silber has] a breathtaking willingness to devote himself to domestic social programs," Barrett said. He praised the candidate for supporting higher taxes to support those programs.
Barrett's comments come at a time when established state Democrats, such as Governor Michael S. Dukakis and others, are lining up behind Silber, a man who has villified them, to save their party.
Despite the unpopularity of his stance on taxes, Silber recognizes that part of government's function must be to "extract money from people," Barrett said. "Silber shows moral courage of a sort I am very unused to."
But Barrett took aim at what he sees as personal flaws in the candidate. He criticized Silber for his "pontificating," saying that his personality resembled that of "everyone's egotistical grandfather."
He added that Silber "does speak off the top of his head," but voters should not be alarmed by Silber's gaffes. "Silber is bearable as a political figure if you have a strong system of checks and balances."
Barrett also criticized Silber's opponent, William F. Weld '66. "I am struck by Bill Weld's aloofness. He runs a minimalist campaign" whose only theme is the need to reduce the size of government and lower taxes, the senator said.
He said that despite Silber's want of tact he would still support "a front-room leader instead of a back-room negotiator."
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