Our Opinion: Baker has been up to challenge

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Our Republican governor, Charlie Baker, deserved the shout-out he received Monday from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden for being one of several governors cited for providing a "lesson in leadership." That the former vice president referred to the governor as Charlie Parker, perhaps thinking of the legendary jazz great, doesn't diminish the honor.

After a tentative start in which he was upbraided by Attorney General Maura Healey among others for slowness in releasing coronoavirus health data, Baker and his administration have generally been on top of the situation, offering daily briefings in which he maintains calm even though he must be under considerable stress. His irritation shows when he addresses the federal government's inefficiency in getting needed medical supplies to state hospitals, which includes Berkshire Medical Center. The governor visited Pittsfield and BMC early on in the crisis, which means a lot to residents in the rural, far western end of the state. Generally regarded as a chilly personality, the governor has expressed heartfelt compassion in urging residents to join the state in making sure that no one is left alone or is forgotten in this crisis.

Gov. Baker's cabinet, most notably Marylou Sudders, the secretary of Health and Human Services for the Commonwealth, have demonstrated their acumen during the crisis and have spoken with one consistent voice. That serves in dramatic contrast to the contradictions and backtracking emanating from President Trump and his support staff in Washington that will only unnerve Americans.

The governor across our western border, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, has been more prominent in the news than his Massachusetts counterpart, which relates to the state's New York City-driven high coronavirus rate. This led him to lash out at the city's "arrogance" in not engaging in social distancing. But he spoke to everyone in America when he said to tell friends and family, "I miss you. I love you. I'm thinking about you. I wish I was there with you."

Gov. Baker, a technocrat given to caution, has been ahead of other governors in ordering the closing of bars and restaurants but behind many of his counterparts in ordering his modified "shelter-in-place" order on Monday. "Every decision I've made since I got into this was either too much or too little," Mr. Baker said in a rare moment of public reflection Saturday during at a news conference at the State House. The governor has never dealt with a crisis like this one, but neither have his constituents. At this point he has earned the confidence of the latter.



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