Thursday, October 13, 2005

No Stumbles for Mumbles

Disclaimer: This is off topic.

Pundits promised and sensationalists sought scandal, but yesterday's co-appearance (not debate) at Boston University settled nothing about next month's mayoral race.

In his Wednesday Talking Politics column, Adam Reilly tried his best to build up the college forum as "If things go badly for incumbent Tom Menino again today, we'll have a real race on our hands. In fact, we may have one already."

In today's recap, he stopped short of kicking himself for his fantasies or coming down on Maura for her LITE message. His headline was enough — Zzzzzzzzzzz.

Today's Herald buried Maura's Parthian shot at Tommy on page 6, albeit with a picture. As he was leaving his successful non-encounter, she called out, "How about a real debate, Tom? What about a real debate?" The article quoted his response as, "Friday night," an allusion to their joint appearance on WBZ-AM's Paul Sullivan talk show (8 p.m., WBZ, 1030 AM).

The Globe reporters heard it a little differently, and noted Tom's picking up points and steam.
But Menino could not be rushed. He stopped to sign autographs and then sauntered toward the door, smiling. He suddenly accelerated when he spotted Hennigan waiting for him and stretched out his hand for a quick shake.

''Councilor! How are ya?" he said, without missing a step. Hennigan shook his hand. ''Will you agree to a real debate Tom?" she demanded loudly. Said Menino, ''Yeah, all the time."

And then he was off, down the stairs and out the door, followed by a few aides.
Layout Note: The Globe had graphics and text fun with this story on both the print and online version. The normally boring crown-to-bellybutton dais shots of each candidate are the primary devices. They are back-to-back and separated by the text or white space. They reinforce the Never the twain shall meet headline. Nicely done.

Key points of the actual event include:
  • Only about 140 students from all over the city attended. Low interest reinforces that Maura doesn't have enough loaves or fishes to feed the minds or heat the blood.
  • Maura went first and only glimmered a bit. Again, she did not shine brightly as she would have had to. After the previous town meeting quasi-debate, many claimed she skunked Tommy, but the public and we don't see the content behind her confidence.
  • Her best shot was a pop. After a career of teaching and 24 years on the City Council, her best proposal of the evening was to have college students mentor public-school ones. Ho hum.
  • Tommy hit his stride. Da Mare is not an orator, knows it and admits it. However, he is eminently likable. Last night with a half-hour solo, he got the students laughing and was his folksy self. The Globe implies Maura was rambling then shrill. She was neither entertaining nor wise when she absolutely had to be.
Maura seems convinced that she deserves this office. She has even played the time-for-a-woman-mayor card — a weak effort. She comes from a family with a history of modest political attempts and offices. She wants a big one, which is not a convincing reason to vote for her.

Reilly at the Phoenix notes:
The mayoral candidates should be talking about their vision for the Boston Public Schools, or how to contain the Manhattanization of Boston, or the recent uptick in violent crime, not offering platitudes about how important students are to the city.
She has a couple more chances. There's that radio show. Also, she has a slick piece of propaganda about to hit the mail.

Maura might, but only might, be as good a mayor as Tommy. She shows nothing that makes people want to chuck it all for her. Tommy is the devo we know.

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