Newburyport Daily News
---- — Big Freddy, nose tucked deep into his morning newspaper, was muttering to himself softly when I joined him for coffee and conversation mid-week.
“You’re either figuring the odds on something, or growling over something that went sour,” I said.
“And a good morning to you, too,” he said. “I was cogitating out loud.”
“You were muttering,” I said
“I was remembering an old song,” Freddy said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Marty Walsh’s win in Boston,” Freddy said.
“What song?,” I asked.
“‘Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again,’ — the old movie with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire way back when,” Freddy said.
“Way back is right,” I said. “But what has that to do with Walsh’s win?”
“That’s what he did a long time back,” Freddy said. “He was in the pits. Dropped out of school, hit the booze later. He was on the road to being a loser, but he dug himself out, made a different kind of a name for himself, made it big time with organized labor, winds up in the Legislature.”
“He campaigned on more than that,” I said.
“I didn’t say he didn’t,” Freddy said. “You asked me what I was doing, and the song popped into my head.”
“But that didn’t have anything to do with his win,” I said.
“It had a lot to do with it for those he dealt with after he straightened out way back when,” Freddy said.
“He didn’t run on that,” I said.
“Didn’t have to,” Freddy said. “He ran on what he’s done since, but what he really did was to raise the comfort level of more voters,” Freddy said. “There’s no malarkey in him, like him or not. That’s his character, but you can’t run on just that. He ran a great campaign. He had labor rock solid as a base, but what he had going for him was he wasn’t John Connolly.”
“That’s not to say Connolly booted it,” Freddy added. “He’s as bright as they come. Lot of positives. Great family man. Had a lot of backing from what you might think of was from the other side of the street. He’s a very likeable guy — Harvard grad, very strong about what he believes Boston needs to do to better education. Trouble is that doesn’t go down too well with too many.
“Bottom line, he ran a good campaign that meant a lot to a lot of people, but was no match for Walsh — not only because Walsh is way high with labor, but because he comes on strong with those who like Menino.
“Menino’s smiling a lot. If he said anything about it I missed it, but I’m not the only one seeing it that way.
“Walsh clears the high bar – Connolly doesn’t, and there are more cheers out there than tears.”
Bill Plante is a staff columnist.