Opinion

JOANNA WEISS

John Connolly’s night during debate

John Connolly and Martin Walsh appeared in their second debate of the general election.

Meredith Nierman/WGBH

John Connolly and Martin Walsh appeared in their second debate of the general election.

The “Oh, snap” award for use of logic in a mayoral debate goes to John Connolly, who scored big — in his lawyerly way — in the early minutes last night. The subject was negative mailers accusing Connolly of being a “son of privilege,” which Walsh’s union allies have been sending out.

Walsh told the unions to stop. They ignored him and sent out more.

Advertisement

“If they are not listening now,” Connolly said, “why would they listen to you as mayor?”

It was a lawyerly exchange, but a winning one, because it undercut Walsh’s main argument about his relationship with unions, which boils down to: They like me, they trust me, so don’t worry, I can work out a good deal.

Get Arguable with Jeff Jacoby in your inbox:
Our conservative columnist offers a weekly take on everything from politics to pet peeves.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

It also drew a sharp contrast between Walsh and Connolly — not in vision so much as in temperament. The likable guy versus the guy who’s not afraid to be disliked.

“Disliked,” of course, is a relative term, and a gentle one. The worst personal attack we’ve seen against Connolly is the fact that he isn’t working class and that he’s a lawyer. This isn’t exactly the stuff of smoking guns.

Still, there’s value for Walsh in being who he is: a regular, decent guy with a great personal story, high on endorsements, and low on snappy comebacks. His reputation has served him well. Plenty of people across the city adore him.

Advertisement

Connolly isn’t quite as lovable, and that came through last night; sometimes he risked coming across as condescending. “Marty, I’m glad you think you’re going to be able to have this special dialogue with them,” he said, in another exchange about negotiating with the teachers’ union.

You can’t quite picture Walsh deploying sarcasm that way. It’s not in his nature or his job description. One could argue that legislators need to be nice.

Do mayors? Sometimes, yes. But sometimes, no.

Joanna Weiss can be reached at weiss@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaWeiss.
Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.
You're reading  1 of 5 free articles.
Get UNLIMITED access for only 99¢ per week Subscribe Now >
You're reading1 of 5 free articles.Keep scrolling to see more articles recomended for you Subscribe now
We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com