Editorial, Opinion

STAFF EDIT: Menino’s highs, lows

‘ ‘ ‘ Mayor Thomas Menino was unable to sit with The Daily Free Press for a pre-primary election interview. But his spokesman, Nick Martin, managed to participate in a phone interview, throughout which he stressed, with pamphlet-quality eloquence, Menino’s commitment to being progressive. He also said that this election isn’t about where Boston is as a city, but rather, it’s about where it’s going.

‘ ‘ ‘ Ironically, where Boston is now as a city is a place Menino himself built. After four consecutive terms in office, Menino shouldn’t technically have any campaign promises, considering that his campaign is built around the past 16 years of Boston’s development and growth as his city. Menino’s history presents what The Boston Globe calls a ‘record of steady improvements,’ but it wouldn’t be rash to replace ‘steady’ with slow. And being slow is anything but progressive.

‘ ‘ ‘ But Menino brings to the table experience, nevertheless. Along with that comes an excellent plan for integrating bicycles more readily into the streets of the city, an ambitious green initiative supporting the construction of LEED-certified buildings and a desire to refine the MBTA system for efficiency and keep public transportation open later. Menino is the best representative of classic American politics in this race ‘- for better or for worse.

‘ ‘ ‘ Most damaging for Menino may come out to be his age as a both a man and a politician. To the college students Martin emphasizes Menino works so hard to reach, Menino actually comes off as isolating, not even being able to speak on his own behalf to a major university newspaper and supporting keeping students on campus and out of neighborhoods. And to older Boston citizens, Menino risks coming off as just a face, or just a symbol. This is because after four terms, Menino becomes, in the eyes of his constituents, first the mayor and only secondly, a man. And riding the coattails of Barack Obama, in this, one of the fieriest eras of political change in American history, voters want to be led by a human ‘- a peer ‘- and not a brand.

‘ ‘ ‘ How can Menino rectify himself? First and foremost, he needs to teach his old dog self some new tricks, which he can accomplish by taking notes from the pages of some of his competitors who seem to have all the fancies of progress without any of the experience to make them happen. This doesn’t have to be the end for Menino, but it is reasonable to assert that it is his last chance to prove himself to Boston because with every passing election, voters move further and further from the traditional, and take gambles with the more promising progressives.

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