Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Pixie v. Flintstone Mayoral Debate

Too bad for Maura. She needed a knockout against journeyman Tom and didn't get it on WGBH tonight. Councilor Hennigan should never have given up her 24-year day job. Mayor Menino won on points.

My oldest son was by to cook dinner tonight. I taped the debate between the Boston mayor and his sole challenger to see later. Down to the tepid applause at the end, it was round to round harmless jabs from the flyweight contender. A twinkling smile and condescending half-answers to questions didn't cut it. The audience told the story with so-so reception for the would-be.

Much, far too much, has been made of having the single debate be in a townhall format, with audience questions. Honestly though, for this town, having locals pose the questions was at least as effective as journalistic hacks doing it. The pair faced specifics about policing, street sweeping, inequitable schools, and housing. There were no nuanced questions where panelists try to show how much they know about arcane legislation. The folk wanted to know what these guys would do to make their lives better.

Unfortunately, Maura came off like other Boston city councilors. She was insincere, she smiled inananely, and she tried to turn every question to a personal attack on the current administration. Instead, she should have made specific policy recommendations. What she did was pick very narrow points as though those were real plans. For example, she returned repeatedly to having neighborhood meetings before picking the school-superintendent search committee. Not only is Menino already doing that -- duh -- it does not address the broader issue of what she would demand from the new education tsar.

She blew chance after chance like that.

Tommy came off stolid but solid, as usual. He looked and acted like Fred Flintstone, as always. He kind of answered the questions, in the Thomas Michael way. We have gotten used to that.

Maura needed to show that she had great ideas. She didn't show a single one.

Pity. This race is over.

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