Saturday, January 30, 2016

Good and dead: one bullying loudmouth politician down

[Editors' Note: Longtime readers of the Spy will recall that one of its most beloved features was its moving obituary page, devoted as it was to those whose shuffling off of this mortal coil constituted a public service.]

By Luke Reschuss
Obituary Editor

The media obsequies agreed: you won't see his type again.  It's true – no one combined bullshit, corruption, and psychopathic violence in quite the same combustible mix as the late felon and Mayor of Providence (two ways of saying the same thing), Vincent “Buddy” Cianci.

For decades, the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah on Narragansett Bay couldn't get enough of the act.  According to the once-proud local rag, the Providence Journal, he reigned as one of “Rhode Island's leading celebrities.”  One thing is clear: the Ocean State desperately needs new celebrities.

Goodbye Buddy
In any event, it was easy to see how he achieved such a exalted status: whether he was running his mouth, running for office, running from the grand jury, or running over to his house to stamp out a cigarette butt in the face of his ex-wife's new boyfriend while the local cops looked on, Cianci knew how to make news.  Only in Rhode Island, though, would a violent felon be not only lionized, but beloved.

Although the state and city he stole from remain an island of poverty and want despite its proximity to the Boston metropolitan economic boom, Cianci somehow gets credit for whatever rising economic tide did flow south from the Hub.  To be fair, during his reign, the city did excavate a long-buried river and saw the construction of a big shopping mall and a few other adornments such as a downtown skating rink, but the culture of corruption he did so much to foster still sucks the life out of poor old Providence.

Despite his relentless posturing as a thug of the people, Cianci was in fact born in affluence to a respected local doctor.  After law school, Cianci became a prosecutor.  There he learned that a shot of crime could pay pretty well, especially when dropped in a mug of politics, a concoction then known as a Pawtucket Boilermaker.

When not serving as Mayor or time in federal stir, Cianci enjoyed local success in the natural home for sadistic bullying loudmouths: talk radio.  He also sold spaghetti sauce.  Now he's dead.

But before we drop Buddy down the memory hole, let us give thanks that his day has passed.   Can you imagine anyone achieving political success today through a combination of cheap insult comedy, braggadocio, and bad hair?  Neither can we.

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