Good for Capuano: Beaten Badly, He Did Not Look Crushed or Even a Tad Angry

Friday, September 7, 2018

Now that Mike Capuano has lost, I’m hearing some grumbling to the effect he could have run a better campaign.  Some say he wasted too much time talking about Trump when he should have been taking the fight hard, much harder than he did, to Ayanna Pressley.

“In terms of experience and ability to get things done, she doesn’t belong in the same ring with him,” said one lifelong resident of the district who was sorry to see the curtain come down on Capuano's career.  “For whatever reason, or reasons, he decided it was too risky to attack her.  Well, look where that got him.”
At first, this line of reasoning made sense to me. But, the longer I thought about it, the less convincing it became. 

I’d try to conjure a mental picture of Capuano ripping into Pressley on the stage at some candidates’ forum or on the set of some TV program, and every time I did, Capuano came across as a bully and the audience looked pained.
It now seems to me that Capuano's candidacy was simply doomed on Tuesday, September 4, 2018.  There was nothing he could have done to beat Pressley.  She was a force of nature, an agent of fate.  His number came up.  He had to go.

Based on repeated viewings on the Internet of his concession speech, I suspect that’s what Capuano also thinks.
It was an extremely brief speech, less than two minutes, delivered extemporaneously.  There was no text, no checklist of persons and organizations to thank, no scripted paeans to the glories of public service and the majesty of the electoral process.

He had the air of a coach whose team has just lost the Superbowl by 40 points and knows he has to say something before the cameras but has zero appetite at the moment for analysis and reflection. 
“The district is very upset with lots of things that are going on,” Capuano said.  “I don’t blame them.  I’m just as upset as they are.  But, so be it.  That’s the way life goes.”

He did not look sad or beaten down.  It was as if he had known in his heart two days before he was going to lose and had willed himself to put the whole damn thing behind him.
He talked about how honored and grateful he was to have had the support of the folks in the room for so many years, over so many campaigns, then wrapped up with kind of a verbal shoulder shrug:

“We did everything we could to get this thing done…I’m sorry it did not work out.  But this is life.  This is OK.  America is going to be OK.  Ayanna Pressley is going to be a good congressman.  And I will tell you that Massachusetts is going to be well served.”
As Capuano exited the stage, the smile on his face was entirely genuine.  “You are all invited down to the Caribbean to have a drink with me on the beach!” he exclaimed.

I will not be surprised if he stays on that beach a long time.  Eight years as Mayor of Somerville.  Twenty years as a United States Representative in Washington.  Mike Capuano has a lot to think about, so much of it good.




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