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High-Fives and Dope Slaps: High-fives all around -- just not for Mitt Romney

Posted by Alex Pearlman  March 13, 2012 06:34 PM

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hubway boston bikes.jpgBy Jeff Fish

A lot has happened -- but not much has changed -- in the two weeks since my last column. We had Super Tuesday, along with several primaries and caucuses before it, and Mitt Romney is still the inevitable front runner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. We’re also starting to see some activity in the race to replace Barney Frank, but people aren’t looking that closely yet.

In other news, Mayor Tom Menino is bringing more bikes to Boston, and, once again, I’m giving both Sen. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren high-fives.

High-Five: Joseph Kennedy III defends his dad’s oil non-profit. It looks like the race for the 4th Congressional District is finally kicking into gear, with Kennedy facing questions about his father’s non-profit, Joe For Oil (a.k.a. the Citizen’s Energy Heating Program). Critics take issue with the fact that the oil, which goes to families who otherwise couldn’t afford heating oil, comes from Venezuela, a U.S. antagonist and an Iranian ally. Kennedy defended the organization, saying that “to single out my father’s company, Citizens Energy, because they receive a tiny fraction of that and give that away to the poor, and completely ignore the huge multibillion-dollar national and international companies that make huge profits off the oil is hypocritical and irresponsible.” His likely opponent, Sean Bielat, criticized Kennedy’s rhetoric for being unoriginal.

In my Republican days, I would have bashed Citizen’s Energy for doing business with Venezuela and providing them with positive PR, but why should we reject oil for poor families just because we disagree with the nation on political issues? It may hurt Kennedy in the (newly) decidedly more conservative district, but it shouldn’t.

Dope Slap: Romney’s road to the nomination still slow, but inevitable. Super Tuesday told a familiar story in a thus-far lackluster campaign: Romney won in Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, and Idaho, and he eked out a victory in Ohio against Rick Santorum, who won in Oklahoma, Tennessee, and North Dakota. Newt Gingrich won in his home state of Georgia.

It would take a lot for Romney to lose the nomination, but in the meantime, he’ll become weaker and weaker as his rivals continue to pummel him while he prepares for the general election.

High-Five: Menino continues efforts to make Boston bike friendly. A couple weeks ago, Mayor Menino released the Boston Bikes Annual Report, touting the program’s successes and previewing plans for continued growth. Measures have included the Hubway bike sharing system, which began in July, and the addition of over 50 miles of bike lanes throughout the city. Moving forward, the city’s neighborhoods are looking to get into the bike sharing business, and Menino said he plans to expand the Hubway program this year.

Since Boston Bikes launched in 2007, several bicycling groups and publications have hailed Boston as one of the most bike-friendly and safest walking cities in the country. Obviously this program is a high-five: It’s green, it’s healthy, and bikes take up a lot less space than cars.

High-Five: Warren calls out top Democrats in her book. In The Two Income Trap, a 2003 book that she co-wrote with her daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi, Warren criticized then-senators Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, as well as Washington Sen. Patty Murray (who recruited Warren to run), for signing on to a 2001 law that made it harder to file for bankruptcy.

While Warren allegedly now has good relationships with all three politicians, the fact that she was willing to call out such prominent members of her own party is a good sign. What’s more, she even defended her remarks to The Boston Globe, saying, “I’ll call it like I see it. I always have. I do that regardless of political party, regardless of how powerful someone is.” Hopefully, if Warren gets elected, she’ll stick to those words.

High-Five: Autism charity benefits from Super PAC ad. In the wake of a string of Google ads that a Romney-supporting Super PAC posted about Sen. Brown, he’s made good on his deal with Warren. Thanks to both, the Autism Consortium received a $1,000 donation from Brown’s campaign.

Boston University professor Thomas Whalen told the Boston Herald that the candidates should scrap the pact because it’s impossible to stop the ads and upholding the agreement could be a money drain on their campaigns. That might be true, but Warren and Brown shouldn’t give up just yet; doing so would only accentuate the cynicism that’s already rampant in politics. If the pact does become unsustainable and they’re forced to quit, then at least they tried their best, and neither campaign gets hurt because they were in it together. Then they can make it an example of the excessive influence of money on our elections.

'High-Fives and Dope Slaps' is TNGG Boston's weekly politics column, written by Jeff Fish.

Photo by notladj (Flickr)

About Jeff -- I'm a senior at Suffolk University, majoring in journalism and political science. I'm the editor-in-chief of my college newspaper, The Suffolk Journal, and I did a six-month co-op at The Boston Globe. I love politics, reading, movies, TV, and anything pop culture. My mind is a font of useless knowledge.

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