Saturday, November 02, 2013

Boston Pol Moms to the Rescue

For the preliminary, it was mayoral candidate Rob Consalvo's mom on the line. Today for the final, it's the tearjerker from Marty Walsh's maternal unit.

Rob's mother was much less emotional, and considerably more sincere. In fairness though, she got me from a phone bank and Mary Walsh's letter clearly came via a campaign flack.

I kind of know Rob's parents. I am the warden at their polling place. So when I answered the phone and heard, "This is Rob Consalvo's mom," she was in context. It was the vote-for-my-son pitch, but it was more comfortable. We live in the same neighborhood, I know her casually and her son pretty well. She even ended up saying, "He's a nice kid," and immediately correcting herself to, "I shouldn't say that. He's a grown man. He's a nice man." It was a jolly call and I ended up endorsing him for the preliminary, all things considered.

For the final two in this mayoral go though, John Connolly gently uses his family too. His wife and kids are in pix on his campaign site. She features in an ad for him. These though are just homey appearances. The Mary Walsh letter is melodramatic, plucking on every heartstring.

I'll paste the text below so you can roll the rich aroma of it. As a fair introvert myself, I have to revel in the heavy-handed piece. Whoever wrote this has no shame.

The whole letter text is:

Dear Neighbor, 

I am writing to you to ask you to consider voting for my son, Martin l. Walsh, 
for Mayor of the City of Boston. I am, of course, so proud of Martin -as I have 
been his entire life. 

The worst day of my life was when Martin, at age seven, was diagnosed with a 
deadly form of cancer. But at the same time, I knew he had the determination 
to beat it. That determination is what now makes him such a wonderful 
advocate for seniors and people in need of help. 

He has never given up on anything. He will work and work and work unril 
the job is done. That's what he was like as a construction worker, as a state 
legislator, and even as a seven-year-old cancer patient who did whatever he 
needed to do to help the doctors make him better. 

Martin is the kind of guy who cares deeply for the welfare of others. He was 
always looking out for my husband and me, my son ]ohn, and for our 
neighbors. And he's been helping those in need his entire life. 

Personally since my husband passed away, Martin has done everyrhing in his 
power to help me to stay in the house he was raised in. Clearly, he understands 
how important it is for me to maintain my independence. He appreciates 
that, physically, I am not what I once was and intuitively provides the 
support I need particularly as it relates to my staying at home. 

Simply put, Martin has the vision and values that would be so good for our 
city -to ensure that everyone has an opportunity for a better life. I ask you 
to support my son's candidacy, as I have no doubt that you will be as proud of 
him as Mayor as I will be. 

A1l the best, 

Mary Walsh 

Ya got your kid with cancer. Ya got your loyal son caring for the decrepit mom. Ya got the widow.

For all the journos who've been looking for differentiation between the two candidates, here's a big one. Unlike the present and previous mayors, a Walsh administration might well be a TMI one, heavy on the emotion and revelatory details. I suppose we could adapt.

Recently, Meg Connolly finally appeared to have had enough of the kid-with-cancer card. She didn't note that the type young Marty got almost always responds excellently to chemo, as his did, and unlike his mother's "a deadly form of cancer" description. Meg revealed to a reporter that she had had cancer and they beat it together with her doctors. She still doesn't make it a pity point, despite being the mother of three wee ones. It's a different mindset.

Read the putative Walsh-mom letter and see that, first, it's not credible that she wrote it. Second, that's a computer font and not her signature (small point, but why not get real at the bottom?). Third, was the worst day of her life, a life of a long-term married that included the death of her husband, a cancer diagnosis with a good prognosis? Fourth, why should we extrapolate that doing the expected son's duty of keeping his mom perking to proof that he "has the vision and values that would be so good for our city..."? The letter appealed only to raw emotion.

Of course, that last question is rhetorical. The letter clearly was written by some political functionary.

An underlying theme is that Marty Walsh wants us to believe. He wants us to believe he is sincere, honest and transparent. Other than that background, this kind of cheap hyper-emotional gimmick would not be unusual. Candidates use their family members are props and puppets all the time.

Truth be told, I found the call from Rob Consalvo's mom, the real human being, much more convincing than the voice-over in Mary Walsh's name.

Walsh could well win this thing, but if so, he'll come in slimier than he has to.

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