It is true that Romney is not as right-wing as some Republicans are, but that hardly makes him any more appealing to us. It’s nonsense for him to deny that he is moving to the right as he plans to run for president. And it’s reasonable to assume that, since he now doesn’t have to worry about running for re-election here in Massachusetts, he will continue to become more right-wing. If Romney is anything, he is a creature of calculation and convenience.
His 1994 campaign for Senator Edward Kennedy’s seat in US Congress was not an act of selfless sacrifice. It was a credible political bet that paid off handsomely. So did his deceitful ploy on reproductive choice — that although he was personally opposed to abortion, he would not advocate restricting the right of women who choose to terminate pregnancy. And then there is the business of his elbowing aside the admittedly pathetic Republican incumbent governor Jane Swift when it suited his ambition.
His years as a successful, calculating venture capitalist readily revealed that ambition is what Romney is all about. He insults the nation’s intelligence when he pretends otherwise. But then again, it never hurt George W. Bush to insult the nation’s intelligence. Did it?
Menino and murder
Mayor Menino loves Boston. There is no doubt about that. Like any good mayor, he acts as if the city were his. But he does himself and the city a disservice by not facing up to the fact that his administration and his police force have not done enough to fight the street violence and murder that now plagues Boston. Note: we’re not saying the violence is the mayor’s fault. What we are saying is that his response has been inadequate. Given the fact that there have been 74 murders this year and that at least half of those killed were under 25 years of age, that simple observation, while stinging, should also be sobering.
It’s hard to believe that the mayor was as surprised as he says he was by the recently released survey results of Boston public-high-school students reporting that 90 percent of those questioned last year had witnessed acts of violence such as shootings, stabbings, or beatings. If it was news to Menino, then his administration was not doing its job.
It’s unclear when the 2004 survey was taken. Regardless, Boston in 2003 had a year that saw arrests for juveniles age 16 and under for violent crimes jump 14 percent over 2002. In addition, in 2003 six juveniles age 13 to 16 were murdered. That’s more than the four previous years combined. In 2004, the number of teenage homicide victims doubled. It went up again this year.
The problems we face now are part of a trend. They are not an aberration. The problem is attributable, at least in part, to what are called “crack bubble” children, born and raised disproportionately in households wrecked by drugs, violence, and incarceration. Our society — thanks to cutbacks in federal aid promoted by Bush and slashes in state aid supported by Romney — essentially abandoned them. No one should be surprised that some percentage of those are not well-adjusted — and that the maladjusted affect the others.
Menino has a grim and unenviable job to do. But by not facing up to the cold realities, he plays politics with death. He can, and must, do better.