The Walsh-Connolly Nastiness: What a Joke

Marty Walsh is a union guy. John Connolly is a lawyer. Walsh sure has a nice income. Some Republicans like Connolly.

It’s sickening, the depths to which this race has sunk.

Still, there were times when insults in Boston politics were a whole lot sharper and definitely, a whole lot funnier. So my best friend Pat Halley and I put together some of our favorites. Pat is the author of Dapper Dan, a forthcoming biography of Daniel Coakley, America’s most corrupt politician. As a rival of James Michael Curley, Coakley knew something about insults.

Curley on Coakley:  “Dan, Dan the nasty man, washes his face with a garbage can.”

Martin (The Mahatma) Lomasney on Coakley:  “I’m the monster that Coakley talks about.  Let us tear the hide off each other and tell the people of Boston the true story.”

Coakley on Curley:  “Mr. Curley is like Lemuel Gulliver, the well known traveler, whose adventures were depicted by Dean Smith.  He has been tied hand and foot by the Lilliputians.  It would seem that they have put a bridle on his tongue, that has in all former campaigns been unbridled.”

Curley on Coakley:  “I reminded the public that he was a stooge.  Dapper Danny became irate when I referred to “Mansfield and his manikin (sic).” (Frederick Mansfield was an Irish Catholic politician with an unfortunately Yankee sounding name).

Coakley on Curley: “He works his dirty jobs through others, in this case in the name of some estimable ladies who are wholly oblivious to his crookedness.” (After a Curley sponsored group distributed a leaflet attacking Coakley).

Curley on Coakley: “He is merely a picador for Mansfield the matador.”

Lomasney on Coakley: “Coakley said the other day that no man ought to have more than one million dollars.  If Dan had quit when he made his first million, he would have got away with it.”

During a Suffolk County District Attorney’s race, Congressman John Kelliher baited the patrician Arthur Hill, running for DA:  “His opponent (Kelliher was supporting Joseph Pelletier) is an amusing little cuss.  This spectacular product of the Back Bay, anxious to establish a social equality with the sturdy men of South Boston, last night ventured into that section.  Attired in the regulation Bowery Boy garb, with a small cap jauntily set upon his large head, corncob pipe in his mouth and the general air of a rah-rah boy, Arthur Denon Hill opened his campaign in South Boston.”

In 1950, after an amendment was offered on a sickness insurance bill that was unfavorable to labor, the secretary-treasurer of the Massachusetts Federation of Labor accused the amendments sponsor, Rep. Philip A. Chapman, of “selling his birthright for a mess of insurance company pottage.”

Curley on his Yankee adversaries: Boston needs “men and mothers of men, not gabbing spinsters and dog-raising matrons in federation assembled.”

Curley’s description of Mansfield: “as spectacular as a four-day-old codfish and as colorful as a lump of mud.”

Curley on the Democratic City Committee: “empty eggshells;” on the Democratic ward bosses, a “collection of chowderheads;” the prestigious Good Government Association members were “Goo goos.”

Senator William M. Bulger, on his Republican challenger from Beacon Hill, a veterinarian: “Yes the state is going to the dogs, but this is no time to call in the vet.”

So candidates just remember the next time your opponent accuses you of having attended Harvard, it could be a lot worse.



About Maurice T. Cunningham

Maurice T. Cunningham is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He teaches courses in American government including Massachusetts Politics, The American Presidency, Catholics in Political Life, The Political Thought of Abraham Lincoln, American Political Thought, and Public Policy. His book Maximization, Whatever the Cost: Race, Redistricting and the Department of Justice examines the role of the DOJ in requiring states to maximize minority voting districts in the Nineties. He has published articles dealing with the role of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts politics and on party politics in the state. His research interests focus upon the changing political culture of Massachusetts.
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