Friday, October 02, 2009

Flaherty Stays Pale in Debate

What's 50% of ho-hum? Half of the two scheduled debates in Boston's mayoral final contest happened last evening. So?

My short take is that challenger Michael Flaherty was good, which is not good enough. My call after their joint announcement was that Flaherty/Yoon have shown their weapons against Menino, but they'll need more and better to topple him.

You can't pretend you just missed the face-off (debate-like object). WCVB will have the whole show, minus the breaks, from here.

Joining me in the blowhard world are:
  • Dave Bernstein at Talking Politics, with a mini-review saying Menino "came out fine."
  • The news piece at the Herald tried to claim a minor scuffle over promising Yoon a cabinet-level position "raises debate's temperature." (What, 1 degree or 2?)
  • In the same tab, Peter Gelznis was more accurate saying both guys avoided real answers throughout.
  • The news piece in the Globe reads that it was a draw.
  • Its editorial commentary was that Flaherty came off looking mayoral (which may be swell if he wants to play one on TV after losing Nov. 3rd, I'd add).
The harsh reality of that show was that there were no new weapons or tactics. Making it worse for Flaherty was that when the bad cop, the one strident person at the table, reporter Janet Wu, pressed him for definitive answers, he sidled off the nave into an aisle to escape.

A biggy there was the firefighters' union. He had a chance to show some guts and draw a clear distinction between Da Mare. Menino has been unable to get this recalcitrant group of blackmailers to agree to drug tests without at least a 20% raise. Wu demanded strongly that Flaherty commit to cutting the deal without giving up more than the 14% Menino has been offering.

Instead, as he did throughout the hour, he said he'd negotiate the best deal possible for the citizens of Boston. That's right, boys and girls, trust the man whom that union has endorsed and featured on its website. Rather than come off as Rambo or the like, he implied that he could out arbitrate Menino. No pledges, no points.

Alas, I am the voyeur. I want the vicarious excitement that our dailies pretend we already have. Where's the cavalry to the rescue? Where are the new, more powerful arguments? Where are the compelling reasons to pick Flaherty with or without Yoon?

I say the challenger(s) have two weeks to breakthrough.

Saturday Pointer: Nice piece of work — Chris Lovett runs a 14-minute interview with Flaherty and Yoon. The former makes is face-to-face points better and adds program details on what Menino can do for jobs and specifically what the pair would do with the development process. He remains spongy about whipping the fire union into rationality.

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