In 1993, Boston Mayor Ray Flynn was in the middle of his third term. By all accounts, if he wanted it, a fourth term was not out of the question. However, he gave up all that power to become U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.
Right now, it's a safe bet that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino could win a record sixth term. Like Flynn, he too has a Vatican connection that could lead him to give up all that power. Menino is not up for an ambassadorship to the Vatican, but he should take an apprenticeship with Pope Benedict XVI so he'll understand why it's time to go.
There, I said it. What's so difficult about it? Why is everyone afraid to state the obvious? Like the Pope, Mayor Thomas Menino does not have what it takes anymore to effectively serve the people he leads. It's that simple. If the Pope, a man in a direct line of succession going back to the Apostle Peter can face it, why can't a man who's in a line of succession going back to John Phillips (Boston's first Mayor in 1822)?
I'm not a doctor, but it's obvious that Mayor Menino is in poor health. I'm not talking about his issues with getting around and his need to sit when he would typically stand. Standing is not a prerequisite of being a good leader. President Franklin D. Roosevelt couldn't do it without braces and the arm of his son or an aide. Menino's being 70-years-old is also not an issue. Another Bostonian, Benjamin Franklin, did some of his best work after turning 70 in 1776.
Unfortunately, the mayor is like a car with high mileage. A similar car built the same year that was garaged, driven mostly on highways, and was well maintained would be in better condition. Menino has far too many city miles and those are the hardest on a car. The mayor admitted he had not taken care of himself and that he had a new appreciation for good health in some of his first interviews following an extended hospital stay.
Sadly, that man feels better now and is back in denial. I'm not criticizing him, he's human. It takes a lot of guts to admit that it may be time to give up the reigns and leave on your own terms. It's easy to hang in there too long and be carried out on a stretcher. Athletes, actors, CEO's, and even commentators do it all the time. It's a pathetic site and I hope I have the strength to recognize when it's my time. I'll admit, I'm addicted to my work, but so was Johnny Carson and he was wise enough to go out on a high note. He rarely appeared in public following his retirement so we only remember him as a man on top of his game.
A lack of money and accomplishment should not be holding back the mayor. He's earned a decent public pension and could still work a little. He can also look back proudly upon his tenure. But, right now he needs to look forward, like the Pope did, and face the fact that his body can no longer withstand the rigors of running the Hub. FDR was in extremely poor health when he ran for a record fourth term. He died in office and the Constitution was amended to restrict future Presidents to just two terms.
On Thursday, Pope Benedict's resignation takes formal effect and he begins a cloistered life of prayer and meditation. I hope the mayor is included in the Pope's prayers and that he receives an answer to his prayers. Mayor Menino has until May 13 to decide whether to run for another term.