OF COURSE it was only by happenstance that former Mayor Thomas Menino died just days before the 2014 election, and that his funeral at Most Precious Blood Parish in Hyde Park coincided with the closing hours of all the campaigns whose outcomes would be decided on Tuesday. But that unplanned juxtaposition couldn't have illustrated more vividly the emotional extremes we resort to when it comes to political figures.
A newcomer watching the local TV news broadcasts in Boston early Monday morning might reasonably have concluded that the former mayor had been a hero of mythic proportions, a saint and a superstar whose goodness was unbounded and whose shortcomings were nonexistent.
Hours before the funeral began, the coverage was already wall-to-wall Menino. Reporters and camera crews were stationed not only at Faneuil Hall, where Menino had lain in repose on Sunday, and at the church where his funeral Mass would take place, but also at various locations along the route to be followed by the procession bearing Menino's remains through the city.
Bystanders were interviewed, and praised the late mayor unstintingly. Dignitaries were seen as they arrived to pay homage. Archival video clips showed Menino in moments of triumph and celebration. Appreciation and admiration overflowed for the politician who had ruled City Hall for two decades.
Then the stations went to a commercial break, so that viewers could be told how rotten politicians are. . . .