Friday, September 21, 2012

Menino-Warren Love Fest in Roslindale

It was like old times when we tucked our single baby into a Snugli or on my shoulders to head off to a political rally or march. Today, many years later, my wife and I along with our middle son, now a young adult, saw and heard Boston Mayor Tom Menino endorse Elizabeth Warren in the US Senate race.

Friday late afternoon in the city's Roslindale neighborhood, the almost-expected and long-awaited blessing felt very, very Boston. Da Mare was his always in charge, funny self, noting first that some had wanted this endorsement months earlier, even in 2011. He looked toward his wife on the dais with him and seemed to share an in joke saying, "Angela can tell you we got a few phone calls."

The park started filling at 3 although the main attractions did not arrive until well over an hour later. The usual suspects — hard-working and politically savvy Councilors like Tito Jackson, Matt O'Malley and Felix Arroyo   — arrived early, Tito the earliest. A few, like Rob Consalvo, came just before Menino and Warren.

The crowd was well mixed, in race and age. Even teens showed on their own. I lost rough count of the many hundreds there.

A well-received DJ (many complements shouted to him) kept the Motown hits coming, along with Stevie Wonder (aspirational numbers like For Once in My Life) and a few plays of the lyric appropriate for post-debate Warren, Tom Petty's I Won't Back Down. Like a Vegas act, an SEIU official, Veronica Turner, taught and led some political call and response bits for those waiting.

By the time the main acts arrived, the crowd was ready.

After his endorsement, Menino and Warren hugged, then faced the applause together.
Fence to fence, Adams Park, a.k.a. Roslindale Square, was jammed.

A half dozen women of differing ages and occupations spoke before Menino and Warren arrived. Here Rozzie's Kelly Bates, a self-described single mom from the neighborhood, with her son talked about how Warren would be the Senator to watch out for her. She recalled Warren's life and said, "If you can go to law school and raise a toddler (at the same time), you are more than qualified to be our U.S. Senator."
The elderly and disabled seemed as pumped as those standing.

When she spoke, Warren displayed both her political passions and even her rare girlish giggle moments. She was the approachable person we've met and seen in listening tours.
I don't really know her husband, Bruce Mann, also a Harvard Law prof. At the rally, he looked terribly British and controlled. However, he appeared with her in July at the Mayor's annual street party, seeming quite relaxed and jolly. I suspect there's reasons behind her referring to him as "my sweetie."
Menino and Warren got rock-star greetings.
Da Mare was in his element. He loves his crowds, who in turn love him.

He said Warren "got my vote. She has my help." That likely means his machine in gear for her for the next six weeks.

She in turn said he was Boston's best mayor and the best in the nation. She turned to him and said, "Mayor Menino, I will not let you down."
Angela Menino doesn't attend a lot of hubby's events. She'll stand in the background at a Logan Square Christmas tree lighting, for example. At the rally, she was on the dais, beside the Mayor, or Warren when he was speaking. I surmise (with no real evidence) that as he said, "I got to know Elizabeth Warren," which I think means their families spent some time together. He noted that he knows and likes Sen. Scott Brown, "but we disagree about some very basic things." (Those would include the likes of assault-rifle bans and jobs bills.)
Menino took a pretty big gamble today. A Brown victory in November would likely make his life and Bostonians' harder. On the other hand, he and Warren seem a good match and her victory would be good.

Da Mare imagined in his remarks that if he were not in his position and "just a guy from Hyde Park...Elizabeth Warren would have my back. Let me tell you folks, I have her back right now."
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