The Plight of The Martha Coakley: Irish Amnesia

(1) ed mccrmakThe Mayor of Savin Hill he was often called back when I ran into him outside the Statehouse. I’m not sure if he still has that name because the present mayor of Boston Marty Walsh is from Savin Hill, but back then there was no doubt he was the political boss of that area.

His blood ran Democratic blue. If you wanted to get a boost up in an election you went to him. He was the guy who got kids the summer jobs. He kept the neighborhood quiet. He help elderly and the many tenants of the three-deckers with their problems. In Dorchester and beyond he could turn out the enthusiastic workers for candidates; they’d hang signs, attend rallies, canvass the neighborhoods, get voters to the polls, and follow the sage advice to vote and vote often.

He was standing off to the side listening to a candidate speak. This was back in 1988, the Democrat Scott Harshbarger was running for governor against Republican Paul Celucci. It must have been Harshbarger’s rally but I’m not sure now. Seeing him I went over to him. “Danny, how you doing?” He smiled, we shook hand, and started chatting as guys from the old neighborhood do ignoring the speaker.

The long and short of it was that I found out he was not supporting Harshbarger. Knowing he always supported Democrats I was astonished. I knew if he were against him that would be a sign that the other urban vote-getters in the Democratic party would also be against him. I saw the writing was on the wall for Harshbarger.

Danny was nothing if not loyal. You might have heard the expression Irish Amnesia – that’s true of many of the Irish – they will forget everything except a grudge.  Danny had a grudge against Harshbarger.

He had prosecuted the well-like and well-respected Eddie McCormack, pictured above, who had been a former attorney general and who ran for U.S. Senate against Ted Kennedy. The case went to trial in 1994 when McCormack was 70-years-old. McCormack was charged with violating the conflict of interest statute. McCormack said the indictment against him that had been pending three years “put my life on hold, I’ve been unable to do any business.” Within three years after the trial ended McCormack had died. The pressure of being indicted has shortened the life of many people.

After the evidence had been put in by Harshbarger’s office, Judge Tom Connolly directed a verdict of not guilty suggesting the evidence proved McCormack was innocent rather than the opposite. McCormack said of the prosecution: “I think they were looking for a trophy to put on the wall to rehabilitate their reputations with the Globe and the Herald. I wrote the conflict of interest law. … I have never done anything to violate the conflict of interest statute.”

Harshbarger lost the case, lost much support, and lost the election. It points out the peril inherent in  prosecuting popular politicians.

Martha Coakley prosecuted the former State Treasurer Tim Cahill along with the Probation Commissioner John O’Brien. In neither case did she obtain a conviction. My sense of the people I talked with is that there has been a big backlash among the traditional urban Democrats against her for doing that.

More particularly with the Cahill case she ruffled some big feathers since the case involved Cahill’s dealings with the powerful Hill Holliday company which handled the publicity for the lottery. It was embarrassed to have been dragged into a criminal prosecution fearing its reputation would be damaged. It would turn out that the founder of that firm, Jack Connors a traditional Democrat, strangely enough is supporting Baker and raising a lot of money for him; the CEO of that firm at the time of the suit, Mike Sheehan, is now the CEO at the Boston Globe which today came out endorsing Martha Coakley’s opponent.

I wasn’t surprised the Globe did not support Martha Coakley having noted how it has been subtly working against her by using an outlier poll and giving space to those who have a running grudge against her. I can only speculate but are the actions of Connors and Sheehan another example of Irish amnesia?  It’s too bad if revenge is the case. Rather than being truly concerned who would best serve Massachusetts one wonders if they are really motivated by private grudges.

3 thoughts on “The Plight of The Martha Coakley: Irish Amnesia

  1. Eddie’s uncle, the congressman, would take a hot stove. The Boston Globe thought Eddie was Billy Bulger’s bagman.

  2. Interesting intersections. The wheels of god grind slowly but exceeding fine. Who knows what motivated the Globe’s editorial? 2. The very honorable John McCormack retired to a small shack of a home on Columbia Road near Eddie Eddie square and his memorial is a small park farther down Columbia Road closer to the expressway. The Congressman’s entire life was one of dedicated public service. His nephew profited immensely off his uncle’s fame as did the son of Tip O’Neil profit off his dad’s good name. Let’s stop sullying reputations, especially of the dead. As far as I’m concern Tip and his son, and John W. and his nephew Eddie, a Naval Academy grad, were all honorable men. Politically I disagreed with all to varying extents. But they were all good men.

  3. Stop the mudslinging and read Character Assassins II due out in November. In it, I stick pins in the overly bloated overly gloating egos of federal and state character assassins, including many in academia, the press and other media. A must read for non-ideologues or even for the politically correct unafraid to take off their blinders!

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