Friday, September 11, 2009

The Actual Mayor's Race

I'm not quite sure how many drinks the Globe and Herald reporters had before or during last night's debate. The former' take was In debate, foes blast Menino’s tight grip and the latter's Foes pummel Mayor Menino in debate. Such hyperbole belongs on the sports page, where an 11 to 10 Sox victory would be a thrashing.

The big takeaway is that none of the three challengers knocked out Da Mare. We are looking at two questions now:
  1. Will Michael Flaherty or Sam Yoon come in second, getting the other slot on the November 3rd ballot?
  2. Will the surviving challenger unsheathe the worthy weapons for the real race in the last month and a half?
The second looks more iffy right now. Last evening, all three challengers sang their one song. Each seemed to have benefited from practice, but the lyrics were the same. Flaherty looked much less frightened than he did in the first TV debate. McCrea was not as loose with accusations. Yoon did not wave like an eager school kid with the right answer. Their content was pretty much as expected.

The only real failure of the evening was McCrea's puerile taunt. He set up the strawman of attempting to prove he would do a better job improving schools by spending a day each week visiting individual ones. That turned into a revisited and re-revisited challenge for each of the three others to do the same. That kind of playground trick almost always backfires. Wave the pledge you wrote and dare the other kids to sign it. When nobody bought, he should have dropped it. He seemed to be the only one who thought that was real clever.

It would have been great to sense real vision by the challengers. After all, each of them points to what they define as major shortcomings in the city. In some cases, they suggest specific ways to improve this or that. However, the only big-picture painted was by Yoon on transportation. He had the guts to suggest we need to do everything we can to accommodate non-motorized vehicular traffic.

Oddly, it as McCrea and not Menino who picked up on and piggybacked on that. The mayor, after all, has lead on cycling efforts. He should have drawn a future of quieter, cleaner, less congested Boston streets filled with ped and cycle traffic instead of cars. It was McCrea during the parking question who said, "Boston shouldn't be about suburban commuters. It should be about the people who live in the city."

He won't make the cut. Whether it ends up being Yoon or Flaherty on September 22nd, he needs to have better tools than he's brought to the workbench so far for the real race. Give us a vision and a path...or inertia wins.

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