Election Night, 11:54 P.M.
by Lonnie Brennan
We all love long-term talk show radio host Howie Carr, but not as much as we did before he pulled out a sledge hammer to try to drive in a tack. More specifically, when he pulled out all his tried and worn-well one-liners and political muscle to decimate, not just injure, but destroy his former friend and patriot Geoff Diehl.
We’re trying to decide: is Howie a sell-out,? Nah, it can’t be. Perhaps the jovial variety show host just skipped a beat? Misread the situation? Got some bad intell? Jumped a track? Skipped across the old Victrola so to speak? But more importantly, did he jump the shark?
Two quick lessons regarding Massachusetts politics: 1, money can’t buy you love, and 2, Howie Carr’s nasty back-stabbing worn-out recycled cliche lines were totally shocking when he turned this personal blow-torch of his against a long-time friend. Can you say knife-in-the-back? Can you say Howie left the cannole?
Let me briefly explain.
Chris Doughty came out of nowhere (or so the story was told, more on that in a bit). A seemingly unknown, outsider for Mass. politics. A bright shiny new face – and one that wanted to reach all the way up to the governor’s seat (using a step ladder?). And it looked good for Doughty. With his millions, he put folks on the Doughty support team and fueled his campaign with mega media purchases. We’re talking huge bucks, cutting $500K checks. Spending nearly $2.5 million against the candidate Howie Carr termed a coward and a loser. Yes, Doughty spread money around like a high roller in a strip club. He outspent Diehl nearly 2.5 to 1.
But, money: can’t buy you love. It can buy you a microphone and a few talking heads, but it can’t buy you love.
Love? Not in Doughty’s campaign. The more we got to know him, the less we liked him. Doughty’s campaign went evil and nasty, issuing multiple attacks against Geoff Diehl which were clearly meant to distort Diehl’s history (no mention of the gas tax campaign, no mention of four successful races for state rep, and no mention of the many people who helped collect signatures against illegal alien driver’s licenses who did so because Geoff Diehl asked them to do so). (Reminder, the MassGOP and other groups have failed repeatedly on many initiative petitions in which they did not have Diehl as the front man. Just stating the obvious: Diehl delivers. People deliver for Diehl.)
But what really did Doughty in? Well, if the numbers hold, his $2.5 million bought him a lot of votes, but his nasty campaign backfired. In short, let me be the first to say that Howie Carr appears to have jumped the shark.
If you don’t know the reference, it’s the turning point phrase used to signify the decline of the Happy Days TV series when they did an episode so outrageous and out of character (having Fonzie jump a shark), that folks started to tune out the show. The show went from ‘real’ in folks imaginations to just stupid. Ditto for Howie. The dean of talk radio in Boston either let his ego or his pocketbook take over his reason, or perhaps he’s always been a self-centered, self-promoting bastard? I certainly don’t think so, I like the guy. Howie is a great guy. I have his books. He’s signed my books. I’ve interviewed him. I’ve been in his studio twice. He’s a great guy! He’s a genius with an incredible history and gifted memory, but, nasty, wow, Howie we never knew you I guess. Who knows. Let’s hope it’s an aberration only. Let’s hope he can un-ring the bell.
For many, listening to Howie unleash his entire arsenal of insults against his former friend and patriot, Geoff Diehl, was shocking. For Howie, hey, no love in politics. The political figure has repeatedly reminded folks of the dangers of politics and money. Apparently, a bit of self evaluation is in order. Howie’s high-pitched rants and shouting down of dissenting views from shocked Diehl supporters was, well, shocking.
Not mentioning that a surprisingly large number of RINO Gov. Charlie Baker’s donors were sending money into Doughty’s campaign seemed an implausible miss for the longtime Carr journalist. This ain’t rocket science to do a simple lookup on the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) site. Howie’s done it before, but turned a blind eye, got lazy, gave a going-around, a pass to Doughty, or deliberately mislead his listeners with his stunningly surprising support of a pro-ROE act (birthday abortions), third-term-of-Baker clone.
Howie, we loved you, but the shark jump was a bit much when you just happened to line up seemingly all the candidates also represented by the same political consultant as Doughty, and let them take turns on your show and your sidekick’s show, beating Diehl with a nail in a big spoon.
So, in the end, sure Diehl did the hard work. Sure, Diehl was everywhere at everything. Sure, Diehl worked hard, but Howie and his guests Sheriff Hodgson, Shauna O’Connell, and Doughty himself, lost the race for Doughty. They brought nastiness to a new level for Republicans in Mass.: they were snarky. They behaved like Democrats.
Heaven help Diehl moving forward. He certainly found out who his friends are (not).