BOSTON (CBS) — Normally, when they have one of their excellent panel discussions down at the Kennedy Library, it’s about something weighty and historic – the Kennedys, war, peace, or the Kennedys.
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But last night, they apparently outdid themselves with a conversation about a really interesting topic: Tom Menino.
I wasn’t able to make it but was following the Tweets of some who were there. There were a lot of nice things being said about Menino, who is going out in style with a prolonged farewell tour that rivals the one Mariano Rivera just took.
But one of them jumped out at me. A panelist said of Menino: he “wanted to be mayor of the city of Boston. He wasn’t using the office to run for anything else.”
This gets to the core of Menino’s success, as a politician and as a person.
Menino knew what he wanted, and when he got it, he didn’t then want something else.
This was crucial on several levels. To be done properly, a big-city mayor’s job demands constant time and attention. Menino had it to give because he wasn’t spending time running for governor, babbling away on cable TV, or other, equally inferior pursuits.
Menino had a learning curve, and his drive to secure and wield his power as mayor was as intense as what drove him to get his college degree 23 years after graduating from high school.
But in an era when narcissistic campaigning often passes for political leadership, Menino’s work had a point to it – leaving the city in better shape than he found it.
To each his own, but sometimes it pays to live a life where devotion and stability trump ambition and restlessness. Just ask Tom Menino, if you can find him under all those bouquets.
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