The governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, appeared on a Boston radio show and was asked about the right of Glenn Beck and the hundreds of thousands of attendees at his Lincoln Memorial rally to do what they’ve done: “It’s a free country,” he said, then added almost off-handedly, “I wish it weren’t. but it’s a free country, and you gotta respect that freedom.” The audio features my friend, Boston talk-show host Michael Graham discussing the matter. (You can skip ahead to the sound bite; it appears at 1:17.) With Patrick unable to reach 40 percent in the polls in his reelection bid (he’s still up 8 points over his Republican rival Charles Baker in part because of a strong third-party candidate), this could be the gaffe of the year. Or it would be, if he were a Republican.
Of course, Patrick doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a free country. He just wishes, somewhere inside him, that it weren’t as free as it is for people he disagrees with. And have you ever noticed that when people use the phrase, “it’s a free country,” they usually use it to complain?