So there I was, in what Anne of Green Gables would call "the depths of despair."
Governor Jane Swift had refused to commute the sentence of Gerald Amirault, and it was suddenly clear that she's electoral toast. On the other hand, I could not imagine how the commonwealth is going to survive "all Democrats all the time" for the next four years.
Unable to face the day, I put a tape of my grandchildren in the VCR to cheer me up. But before I hit the play button, there he was: Mitt Romney, organizer of the Olympic Games, being interviewed from Salt Lake City about how well things were going there.
"Glad things are going well somewhere," I muttered gloomily. But then I realized: This was the first weekday morning that I had turned on the television since my son watched cartoons, sometime in the early '70s. So this must be a sign!
Of course, it wasn't a totally unexpected sign. I'd called Mitt's office in Utah the day before and left a message on his answering machine: "This is Barbara Anderson, know you're busy, when you're free please come home and run for governor."
As it turns out, I wasn't the only one calling. Apparently there has been wistful thinking about Romney in Republican, Independent, and business circles, but no one was saying anything publicly. When the Amirault decision was announced, I said out loud what many people had been thinking: Jane Swift is too politically tone-deaf and damaged to win.
They contacted us by phone and e-mail to express their outrage over the Amirault decision. Taxpayer activists who are also delegates to the Republican convention swore to sit on their hands rather than vote for Swift. But silent protest is not the nature of an activist and there was an eagerness to do something productive.
One leader, David Wilson, whose Plymouth County Republican Club ran and actually won legislative campaigns during the ‘80s and early ‘90s, told me he is hearing a renewal of purpose among people who had been in the depths of political despair themselves. All over Massachusetts, friends are calling friends. A website is being created and will soon be accessible through the website at the end of this column.
But since silent protest is not the nature of an activist, all were ready to look at a new candidate, and there was Mitt Romney and his Olympic achievement. It had been on everyone's TV set for two weeks.
Massachusetts has scandal, a deficit, and new security concerns. The Olympics had scandal, a deficit and major international security concerns. Mitt Romney was chosen chairman because of his well-known integrity; he erased the deficit, he kept the athletes and bystanders safe. Is this a perfect match, or what?
As one political wag told me, "Can you imagine Jane, Shannon O'Brien, Tom Birmingham, etc. running the Winter Olympics? Romney had to buy his own family's tickets to the Games, others would have had every family member employed by the Games."
Yes, and when the games were over, they'd have been given an early pension, and the new Olympic debt would be carried forward to Greece and Rome. The torch-bearers would be paying tolls from the Acropolis to the Catacombs.
Immediately after the closing ceremonies, Mitt was back on television, expressing his interest in coming back here for a political campaign; though not, he joked, against Ted Kennedy again.
Mitt ran a pretty good U.S. Senate campaign in 1994, though he was a tad green and upset some conservatives with his seeming lack of ideology. When he ran into the Democrat's anti-Ronald Reagan mantra that year during a debate, he looked apologetic instead of saying what he should have said, "President Reagan cut inflation, created jobs, saved us and the world from communism, and gave us hope that anything is possible." It's easy to understand a loss of focus in a major TV debate, though.
Romney is older now and has been vetted in the ways of political campaigning. He has a pleasant, easy-going way about him, and a beautiful family.
We've had a rough time recently, not just with the economy, but with the big concepts of faith and justice. What we need is someone who can save our little commonwealth from total one-party rule, and give us hope that something good is possible here.