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Illustration by John Howard

||||| By Buzz Bissenger ||||| Illustration by John Howard |||||

SUCCESS followed success, and as he persuaded more and more people with the spontaneous symphony of his hands and the infectious rhythm of his voice to see a place that he saw, it became easier to believe that there was something wondrous about him, regardless of the patches of hair sprouting from his head like a failed English garden, not to mention the balled-up blue suits that looked as if they had been burrowed away in gym bags.
   National story spawned national story, each one better than the last, stories so gushing that even his own press secretary, Kevin Feeley, seemed a little embarrassed. The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Reader's Digest, U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Washington Post all proclaimed him the miracle man who at Mach speed had reversed a seemingly irreversible spiral of decline and decay. A dying American city had been drawn back to life by the man Vice President Al Gore had ordained "America's mayor."
   Ed Rendell read most of these clips. Sometimes he liked them because the accompanying pictures were big and showed him with an affable smile and more hair than he could take credit for in person, and he knew such a sight would make his 84-year-old mother in New York happy. Sometimes he cringed over the effusion of them because it raised the bar of his success ever higher, and he knew that fellow mayors, while offering congratulations in public, would start sticking little pins into the ears and eyes of their voodoo dolls in private.
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