Romney Reality Checkered

The screechy Mitt/Rudy slapfight has suddenly splintered into a proxy battle, and the result is pure fun for local political junkies. Yesterday marked the coming out party for “Romney Reality Check,” a Giuliani-aligned attack group consisting of local Republicans that plans to fan out and attack Mitt Romney for being a lousy governor (and, one hopes, a treacherous flip-flopping swine of an individual). For now, they’re hitting his economic record.

Former Governor Paul Cellucci, standing with former treasurer Joe Malone, led the charge yesterday.

“Not only was Mitt Romney unsuccessful in cutting taxes, he raised them,” Cellucci said in a press release. “Fees went up, government spending went up … By any measure, Mitt Romney was unable to bring about the fiscal discipline in Massachusetts that Mayor Rudy Giuliani brought to New York City.”

The absurdity of Cellucci—who left office early to become ambassador to Canada—attacking anyone for fiscal irresponsibility is nicely laid out by Jon Keller:

“Cellucci, the godfather of the ill-timed 2000 income-tax rollback referendum, rapping Romney for his efforts to clean up the ensuing fiscal mess without hiking broad-based taxes is like being called ugly by a toad. And those legislators all voted for the Romney budgets they now denounce.”

Maybe Keller’s being too harsh, though. After all, Cellucci did keep Canada from attacking while he was the ambassador. Eh? Eh?

Moreover, with Rudy presently savaging Mitt, and Mitt alone, for the Judge Tuttman affair, when it was clearly a full systemic breakdown that led to the massacre in Washington, the irony of using Malone as a proxy becomes pretty thick. It was Malone’s staff at the treasury, after all, that walked out of the building with $9.5 million of the taxpayers’ money in one of the worst scandals to hit Massachusetts in a long time. When all hell broke loose in 1999, Malone claimed that it wasn’t just the taxpayers who were the victims of this crime, but Joe Malone and the taxpayers. He had been betrayed, and should not be held accountable by the few bad apples he hired.

If Giuliani’s camp had anything to do with “Romney Reality Check,” they did a characteristically good job of vetting their guys first. As the Globe’s Adrian Walker put it at the time, “[Malone’s] in the unenviable position of being a scoundrel if he knew his friends were stealing money, and a chump if he didn’t. Professional public management can be a dicey business.”

Well ain’t that a Kerik in the pants! Rudy might want to take a look at some of this stuff before he sends Malone on any more errands. Also, isn’t it a little unseemly how eager these guys are to get into bed with the most popular kid in school? I absolutely deplore Romney, believe me, but this is a little embarrassing.

PS: Good to see Kerry Healey back in the public eye. She seemed to be in fine form, now that her scary “Deval wants to use your tax dollars to install a rapist in every parking garage” attack ad has been made into a movie.