Years ago, even before I started this blog, which celebrated its eighth birthday in April, I was a political reporter in Washington DC. In a way, this was the job I had always wanted, watching Sunday morning news shows with my parents for as long as I could remember.
Then I actually went to Washington. Seeing all of them up close was kind of a strange experience and not in the way that most people would think. On television, they are larger than life. When you see most of them in the flesh, they become human sized. Any politician that mattered in American political life between 2000 and 2005, I saw. Dick Cheney, politics aside, was a stocky, stooped man with hunched shoulders. George Bush (yes I saw him too) was kind of goofy and moreover, quite tired looking. Trent Lott looked like his hair had never moved one inch even for one minute. God rest his soul Strom Thurmond who began serving in Congress when Eisenhower was president and lived long enough to have a website looked, unsurprisingly, very old when I saw him. Tom Daschle, majority leader of the senate for a good part of the 2000s is a rather short man. Ted Kennedy was a particular favorite of mine. Quite a wonderful speaker who was redder in person that I had imagined, he always traveled with his dog. I saw President Clinton a couple of times too. One time, everyone on Pennsylvania avenue just stopped doing whatever they were doing to wave to him. He always seemed quite thrilled to be doing his job.
I gave up the political job and obviously no longer run into Trent Lott while in an elevator anymore. But I do like Boston’s politicians. Now I don’t mean to stir up any sort of political talk up here. I’m not really into that on this blog, but Boston’s politicians, no matter which side of the political aisle you are on, are like holdovers from another era. Michael Dukakis actually rides the green line. Tom Menino met about 80 percent of Boston’s residents. My favorite Boston politician (interesting relative aside) is Billy Bulger. A sassy, compact Irishman with a tongue like a razor.
Boston politicians really seem to revel in getting out there and shaking hands with people and actually meeting them. Does it mean everything in this city is perfect? Well, no, not really? Are our government services perfect? No. But somehow, these guys seem genuine. How do I know this? I went to the opening of the Boston Public Market today, attended by Marty Walsh, Boston’s mayor and Charlie Baker, the governor of Massachusetts.
They were both there to mark the opening of the market, with Baker actually purchasing something from the market. As I found with the other politicians, Walsh was different in person than I had thought. First of all, he’s an extremely tall man, taller than I had ever even imagined. He also seemed like he wanted to meet people. He stopped and took a photo with every single person there. I’m sure he takes hundreds of photos of every year, so this isn’t anything new to him. But he seemed genuine.