In answer to Buck:
I think there are many truths. Barney had always said that as long as he had Newton and Brookline (largely liberal and somewhat Jewish), he’d be fine. So the redistricters took him at his word (wowd), and trimmed off the fishermen of New Bedford, etc. I never understood what the Portuguese trawlermen saw in him—and the old Mass 4th was a travesty, more resembling an eel than a congressional district—but he must have delivered the bait. Barney’s new district is more compact, but does indeed include more conservative towns.
But was he screwed? I say no. Even though Barney was a bit of a loner (no backslapping Irish pol he, at least not as typically meant), I still don’t see him as a martyr. The state had to eliminate a district, and John Olver (who? exactly) helpfully offered to retire. Everyone else got a piece of his district’s corpse.
I think Barney got old and entitled. Until 2010 he hadn’t had a serious challenger since forever, and his reaction was petulant, not political. Even a slick talker such as himself was having a harder and harder time explaining away Fannie and Freddie, but the old Barney would have taken up the fight. This old Barney took retreat as the better part of valor. I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t whisper his retirement to them in advance.
When the redistricting commission took up the cause of minority rights, they didn’t mean Republicans, believe me. They fully expected a Democrat to be able to win. But maybe that Democrat wouldn’t be Barney. Maybe he was telling the truth when he said he didn’t want to have to introduce himself to new constituents. Not that we didn’t all know who he was—maybe because we did. Barney hasn’t had to be likable for years. His old district didn’t care.
He’ll be 72, and will have served 32 years in the US Congress (and another decade before that in state office). There will be no shortage of speaking and punditry opportunities, especially going into a presidential election. I bet he looks at his retirement as a promotion.