Banqueting in the Alternative Universe
Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman
Well, I'm sure you are all awaiting Porcupine's scathing comments about the GOP debate in New Hampshire. Which will be a little awkward, as Porcupine didn't watch the debate. (And has been well punished for it, in missing what may be the most amazing unscripted remark in decades - a lightning strike during Rudy's response on abortion).
Instead, he was gathered here with some 200 of his closest friends, to honor an extraordinary woman - Lt. Governor Kerry Healey. The size of the crowd was remarkable, when you consider that half of the 'usual suspects' were in New Hampshire working for their candidates in the debate.
As often happens, Reed Hillman was funniest. "Hey! We didn't do so bad! We took the silver! We beat that guy from the Cape who sells gasoline and Slim Jims, and we beat that other Worcester lady too! We coulda done a LOT worse!" Sen. Bruce Tarr was the second biggest hit as emcee and referee, doing an admirable job of keeping the program flowing, to the point where Porcupine began to wonder if he was available for weddings and bar mitzvahs as well. Chairman Peter Torkildson spoke of his days as a Congressman when she was Party Chair; Asst. Minority Leader Mary Rogeness gave a graceful speech about shared service; Rep. Brad Hill recalled the floor fight on Melanie's Law with passion and sincerity. In fact (Porcupine kept count) there were TWENTY-THREE speakers, all talking about how Kerry had heped, inspired or worked for them. There were letters, too - from Ron Bersani, who was Melanie Powell's grandfather before she was killed by a drunk driver, and to turned to Kerry for help when Rep. Gene O'Flaherety gutted the bill that bore her name and jetted off to Portugal, so sure was he that nobody would bother; from former Gov. Paul Cellucci, who apologized for missing the event, but who was working the spin room for Mitt in New Hampshire; from National Committee Man Ron Kaufman, another debate attendee, and of course, from Mitt Romney himself - a letter about how she had been a true partner, and the greatest asset his administration had.
Kerry thanked the crowd, and remrked that the best thing about the evening was that there were some faces that she didn't immediately recognize. "I have no idea why you'd want to meet me now - but it's an indication that the Party is growing and changing, and that's the greatest thanks I could have."
The evening ended with Kerry introducing her mother, Sheila Murphy, to the crowd and thanking her for her support and her love. Porcupine was able to chat with Mrs. Murphy for a while after the dinner ended, and complimented her on what a fine daughter she had raised. "She didn't come to my late husband and me until late in our life - and from the first moment we had her, we just knew that she would do great things. We were both so proud of her, all our lives." There really is no finer tribute a person could have as an adult than to so gratify a parent - but there is a great political tribute to be mentioned as well.
When saying goodby, Porcupine remarked to Kerry that it had always been a maxim that when you were out, you were nobody - and she had certainly disproved that truism. Kerry laughed and said, "You aren't the only one to mention that. You know, I got the nicest notes from people who didn't have to bother - from Ray Flynn and from Tom Finneran, for example -warning me that being dropped and somewhat forgotten was just the way of the world, and I shouldn't take it personally or as a reflection on what I accomplished. But you know - that really hasn't been my experience at all. I've been lucky."
No, Lt. Gov. people make their own luck in politics, and drawing in a paying crowd like this when you are 'yesterday's news' if proof of genuine esteem - and proof that the last chapter in this political biography is far from written.