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Downtown Journal: Charlie and Marty, Leaders for Tough Times

Downtown Journal
An occasional column about city life

Nothing dulls my senses more than a televised press conference. However, recent State House pressers starring Charlie Baker catch my full attention. When the Massachusetts governor talks to reporters about the coronavirus situation, he communicates clearly and speaks well, answering reporters’ questions without attitude or comment.

Baker, generally, can sometimes sound condescending. But during these trying times, any sneer in his voice is gone—even while treading through the political minefield of frustration with the federal government. At one point, he was talking about the on-going need for necessary equipment to deal with the incipient pandemic—ventilators, respirators, protective gear. He says all those vital materials are slow coming out of Washington. He describes conference calls with other governors who regularly speak to Administration officials and of the governors’ collective frustration with the Feds. Baker, a Republican, has previously made no secret of his distaste for the president. In this matter, however, he doesn’t make it personal. He just lays out his annoyance professionally and competently and doesn’t have to say anything more. I am impressed. Charlie for president.

This is a time when true leaders shine. In Boston, Massachusetts, we are so fortunate in a dark moment of our history to be led by the light of two leaders— the Governor of Massachusetts and the Mayor of Boston. We really need these guys. As Governor Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh have stepped up to the plate, they have shown everybody else how it’s done. I couldn’t be prouder to live here. 

Baker is the Master Mechanic, all crisp efficiency. Sporting the buzz cut he got a few days ago in a charity fundraiser for cancer research, Baker has a handle on the facts and figures as the virus began its assault on Boston. He conveys the really frightening news about the cataclysm of closings, the preparation of hospitals and testing sites. For example, earlier this week, Baker shared the update about all day care centers closing their doors by Monday, March 23. He breaks the bad news without apology, hitting exactly the right note. 

Mayor Walsh takes a more personal approach. His warm touch is absolutely brilliant and in keeping with the folksy tenor of Boston mayors from James Michael Curley to Kevin White to Ray Flynn and Tom Menino. He’s Mah-ty from the nah-bah-hood advising you to check (in a socially distant way, of course) on your elderly neighbors to make sure they are getting enough food and help. 

In a televised address earlier this week, Walsh singled out the city’s elders for praise:

“I want to say a special word about our seniors. Last week, I called my mother. I said: “ ‘Mum, I want you to be very careful. This is serious. You have to wash your hands all throughout the day, and use hand sanitizer. No hugs or kisses for the nieces and nephews. In fact, they shouldn’t come over for a while. You need to keep your distance from people. If you need anything from the store, I’ll pick it up for you. She’s going to miss the company of friends and family, for now. But they’re going to talk on the phone.’”  

Nothing nicer than a politician who remembers his mother, the elderly, and his role as Comforter-in-Chief. Walsh has assuaged other city residents by abandoning the parking rules of street sweeping during the coronavirus crisis. He is on the front lines of shutting down restaurants and bars as well as presiding over the lengthy closure of Boston public schools until April 27. He has a world-class Boston medical community to tap for brain power and I have no doubt he’s working those connections full-tilt during this crisis. He doesn’t seem the type who’s threatened by what he doesn’t know.

As the virus came ashore, official Washington shoveled a lot of fake news about how it was a “Chinese virus” and we’d be fine. Meanwhile, Baker and Walsh stepped up to the podium and warned us the worst was happening here and now. They sent out signals of being confidently in control while steering the ship of state through the unknown waters of a pandemic. They represent different political parties but they work together admirably, even in the best of times.

Before COVID-19, when I would despair the fragmentation of our country, I could always feel proud about my little corner of the world. Right here, in the North End of Boston on the coastline of Massachusetts, things are humane, collegial, compassionate and in hand. Thank you Charlie and Marty. Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Monica Collins lives on the Waterfront with husband Ben Alper and dog Dexter.

5 Replies to “Downtown Journal: Charlie and Marty, Leaders for Tough Times

  1. Sure beats New York, where de Blasio is described as ashen faced and begging. Hyserically attacking his governor and the U S government. The procurement system is broken where states and Federal Government are left competing against each other for critical supplies. Nothing has ever been forth coming from Washington, because it’s giant bureaucracy that just doesn’t move swiftly. States competing against each other assures that the wealthiest states get the resources, where the poorer states go wanting. Thus assuring a continuing pandemic, the spread that will never cease. The protection of the very old and people who are already afflicted with severe conditions is the main thing. The neighborhood appears to have mobilized on its on volition without any push from government. The best thing the elected should convey is strength and hope and not finger pointing. I have seen companies self destruct when finger pointing becomes the name of the game. It leads to blame, but immobilizes action. It’s all too common.

  2. I assume your post was directed to me? As for Trump he is a racist and there is an old Italian saying . “You can tell what’s in a person’s heart … by what comes out of their mouths” I’m surprised Trump hasn’t blamed Obama for the Civil War but that’s assuming Trump knew that this country had a Civil War.

  3. Racism was added to this pathetic issue because the Chinese media (which you should know is not independent) accused the US military of initiating the virus in their country. Before that (I listen to some British news), one British finance analysis said the outbreak in China started in proximity of Chinese military biological weapons laboratory. The accusations started after that. I do not believe in anyway that the US military would ever deploy a chemical weapon. As a former member I am offended by the notion.

  4. Was listening to Bloomberg this morning, before the market. They broadcast from London and they aren’t bridled by American political correctness. They had Elizabeth Warren on, and she just got roasted😂. Jonathan would lay questions on her and she would just shout “Listen to me, Listen to me!” Finally ended her, saying you’ve got nothing, you’ve wasted our air time. Her mouth dropped open, you could shot golf balls into her mouth. They once cut Nuriel Robini off in one if nutty rants saying just stick to investments if you have any. They called the Chinese goverment , Just plain liars, you can’t believe anything they say. You could accuse them of being racists, but their British. Doesn’t fly there.

  5. people should take their national politics to FB or some other social media outlet of their choice. It has no place on a hyperlocal news blog.

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