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Going for all the marbles

It's an open secret that Massachusetts' governor, Mitt Romney, is interested in the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. On paper, he's got a great resume'. He was a highly successful businessman, he pretty much single-handedly saved the 2002 Winter Olympics, and he was handily elected governor in Massachusetts, the bluest of blue states. He's also the son of former Senator and presidential candidate George Romney, so he has some family name recognition.

On the downside, Romney has the Massachusetts baggage (including the overstuffed and alchol-reeking suitcase marked "Ted Kennedy," the John Kerry-on bag with the "Viet Nam" and "Christmas in Cambodia" stickers, and the nerdy -looking backpack bearing the faded name tag of Mike Dukakis, another former Massachusetts governor who sought the Oval Office), as well as the prejudice some of the Left try to fan against a Mormon. (The Boston Globe has highlighted this on several occasions, trying to drive a wedge between Romney and the Christian Right.)

I happen to like Romney. He strikes me as a decent, honorable guy, and one with a proven track record. I don't agree with some of his politics, and he's shifted positions a few times to better fit in with the constituency to which he is appealing, but lord knows we've seen far worse. Hell, we've nominated far worse. (See the Kerry-on bag above.) And on occasion, we've elected far worse.

With the utter incompetency and fatal ineptitude and corruption of Boston's Big Dig project finally claiming a life last week, Romney finally had had enough. He'd been trying since Day One of his term as governor to wrest control of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, but had been stymied by the Legislature (currently 85% Democratic in the Senate, 86.25% Democratic in the House) at every turn. Whenever it looked like he might finally exert some influence, they'd change the laws governing the Board. When he wanted to replace members with those he trusted, they'd extend the outgoing members' terms of office. When he did get one of his on on board, they expanded the board to include their own office-holders. And so on. And so on.

Then, last week, everything changed when a 3-ton slab of concrete suspended over the roadway came loose and fell on a car, crushing a Boston woman to death. At that point, suddenly the Legislature found that the bone it had fought so hard to keep was actually a live hand grenade, and someone had just pulled a pin.

That's when Romney stepped in. He returned from his vacation home here in New Hampshire (our status as having the first presidential primary is purely coincidental, you understand) and announced that he wanted full control over the Big Dig. He filed legislation that placed full inspection authority on the tunnels in his hands, stripping the Turnpike Authority of all power in that area. Less than 24 hours later, he had the bill back on his desk, passed by both Houses in record time. The instant he signed it, it became effective, and he now owned the whole Big Dig project -- 20 years and almost 15 billion dollars of corruption, incompetence, and bungling -- lock, stock, and barrel.

This is one of the rarest of moments, when both principle and political opportunity are converging for Mitt Romney. If he can somehow pull off the kind of miracle he did with the Olympics and salvage something out of this gaping hole in the ground, then he will have one hell of a credential to present to voters in 2008. And more importantly, he just might economically save the city of Boston -- and, by extension, the state of Massachusetts.

Make no mistake -- the tunnel system is absolutely essential to the city of Boston. With the closing of the tunnel where Milena Del Valle died, access to and from Logan Airport is severely restricted. As those travellers seek alternate routes, they are clogging up more and more of Boston's roads, choking off other sections of Boston. The economic impact is already being felt, and shows no signs of getting better. Boston (as well as Massachusetts) are already losing population, and this could be the final straw for a lot of people already fed up with the exorbitant taxes, the overregulation, the flagrant corruption, and (always a factor) New England winters.

Romney scored huge with a sound bite the day after the collapse, when he said that "people should not have to drive through the Turnpike tunnels with their fingers crossed." He's elaborated on that, saying that the tunnels willnot re-open until he can drive through them without his fingers crossed.

Romney might have taken on an impossible task. For a Mormon who eschews gambling, he's placed all his chips on this single roll of the dice -- and those dice are loaded.

Win or lose, he has my respect for trying.

Comments (22)

Wow. An elected official w... (Below threshold)

Wow. An elected official with testicles to do his job!

The coming weeks will prove his mettle.

What an educational piece f... (Below threshold)

What an educational piece for those of us not residing in Massachusetts. Skewed news reports never tell the whole story of the man, they just define the mess. Thanks.

Closure of the tunnels coul... (Below threshold)
Mrs. Davis:

Closure of the tunnels could not have happened to a more deserving group of blind pigheaded set of voters in the country. Like the Paleostinians, I will enjoy watching them reap what they have sown while praying for minimum casualties.

That first ride through the tunnels with Romney in a convertible is going to be a media extravaganza.

Isn't it funny how most of ... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:

Isn't it funny how most of the major disasters (man made that is) happen in democratically controlled parts of the country. I wonder if there is a correlation?

USMC Pilot, You t... (Below threshold)

USMC Pilot,

You took the words right out of my mouth. I especially love the fact at how quick they handed over responsibility . Show's their cowardice and incompetance after years of unabated corruption by professional criminals and liars.Their is an undeniable correlation in democratically controlled parts of the country. Gray Davis in my home state of California managed to bankrupt one of the greatest economies on the planet. Even a majority of Democrats wanted and voted his sorry and lying ass out. It is a fact if you recall Fraud Kerry and Hilary Rodham Clinton openly and proudly proclaimed that "OVER 80% OF FELONS VOTE DEMOCRAT". It wasn't long before they started tasting each others feet that the once loud and proud claims were no longer even dared repeated by their obedient liberal media cohorts.Just like pulling the choker chain on a barking and tugging dog.Instant silence.

"For a Mormon who eschew... (Below threshold)

"For a Mormon who eschews gambling, he's placed all his chips on this single roll of the dice -- and those dice are loaded."

It's difficult to see the downside for Rommney. Whatever ugliness he uncovers wasn't his fault, and I suspect the citizenry will be very patient with the cleanup and fixes as he untangles the mess.

"Make no mistake -- the tun... (Below threshold)

"Make no mistake -- the tunnel system is absolutely essential to the city of Boston." You mean traffic is actually a problem in Boston? Boston has received more tax dollars for road construction than the rest of the country combined, and yet traffic is STILL a problem? Gee, traffic isn't a problem any where else in the U.S. I mean, nobody else has to put up with mean ol' traffic. Somebody should HELP those poor Bostoners. Nobody should ever have to deal with a pox like traffic. Maybe more money thrown their way...

Did "pucker puss" (lee lee)... (Below threshold)

Did "pucker puss" (lee lee) just say that??????

He was being sarcastic. Fo... (Below threshold)

He was being sarcastic. For him.

The roads in Massachusetts ... (Below threshold)
Mrs. Davis:

The roads in Massachusetts have been notorious for ever. After the Revolutionary War, Washington went on a vicotry tour and complained that the roads had been laid out by cows. And he was right.

George Romney, father of Mi... (Below threshold)

George Romney, father of Mitt, was a great Michigan Governor, and yes, Presidential candidate. Before his election as Governor, George, Iacoca like, rescued American Motors.

George, also a Mormon, was too honest to be President. On returning from a trip to Vietnam in 1967, I think, George made his famous "We are being brainwashed" comment. He was laughed at of course, and quickly dropped from front-runner status in the 1968 Presidential race.

It was only later that we learned that the military was manipulating the numbers of wounded and KIA on both sides. This, along with other Johnson Administration half-truths about the war confirmed Romney's opinion. Heck, even President Johnson was only given half the story.

George Romney, successful CEO and Governor, would have been a hell of a lot better than Nixon.

I pity Romney on this one. ... (Below threshold)

I pity Romney on this one. I've looked around at what I remember of the price levels and possible issues...

Even saying they don't have to replace every pin to at least take care of the "Falling Sky" issue (they should just get rid of the decorative deathtraps, IMO, but that's probably even more expensive), he's still going to have to find a way to fix the slurry walls, which have been leaking pretty constantly since they were first put together.

It's simply due to poor construction workers - MassBackwards has a great synopsis of how and why, and wouldn't you guess it, the really messy stuff all started after "equal" opportunity movements started - but that truth won't fly long; the sacred cow of reverse discrimination is too important for the People's Republik of Massachusetts.

He's gonna end up adding another billion dollars to the cost of the whole stupid mess unless a miracle falls on his lap just to stop the walls from leaking.

Ah.. You can always count o... (Below threshold)

Ah.. You can always count on the racists getting a dog in the race somehow... their diarrhea knows no bounds.

I live in Massachusetts, an... (Below threshold)

I live in Massachusetts, and I don't vote Democrat. In fact, a majority here has voted for Republican Governors since the early '90s after the Dukakis mess. The problem isn't that Republicans can't get elected here, it's that once elected they take a poweder and go on vacation looking for other jobs.

I voted for Romney, and I'm glad he finally grew a set of gonads, but he's been MIA here in this state for nearly 4 years, allowing the far left legislature to run rampant with little to no opposition. It's too bad someone had to die for Romney to remember that he's Governor.

Hard to see how Romney coul... (Below threshold)

Hard to see how Romney could make it past Super Tuesday in the '08 primary. Mormon. Massachusetts. Not a ton of money. Those are tough hurdles to overcome.

Yes, Lee, that's right. I'... (Below threshold)

Yes, Lee, that's right. I'm a female with heavy Mexican and AsianPacificer blood, and a racist. Cause, you know, putting people in jobs or at colleges they aren't prepared for is helping them.

Or it might just be I prefer having Construction Managers having some degree of knowledge about construction or management.

Nah, couldn't be.

I am shocked that all is no... (Below threshold)

I am shocked that all is not well in the People's Democratic Paradise of Mass.

Nope, it isn't.... (Below threshold)

Nope, it isn't.

You can bet your sweet bipp... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:

You can bet your sweet bippy that Teddy won't take any of the blame.

Romney is Mormon . . . will... (Below threshold)

Romney is Mormon . . . will have positive and negative effects on his campaign.

Romney governs in Massachusetts, but was born and raised in Michigan where his dad was Governor . . . he'll be basing his campaign out of there and stands a great chance of winning MI in the GOP primary once they change their rules and only let registered Republicans vote.

"Not a ton of Money" I hear someone above say?
He's raise $3.4 million in the last 3 months. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/15/AR2006071500682.html (scroll down the the second part)
He's getting the big donors signed on that were Bushies http://blog.washingtonpost.com/thefix/2006/07/2008_whale_update.html
Plus, he's a multimillionaire (?Billionaire?) on the order of Steve Forbes and ran a Venture capital business for years.
Money will not be one of Romney's problems.

gattsuru, are you suggestin... (Below threshold)

gattsuru, are you suggesting that one of the causes of the deficient work is that construction managers were (less competent) minorities? Can you back that up with anything?

Okay, my post with a link a... (Below threshold)

Okay, my post with a link apparently isn't going to pass the censors, so you'll have to do searches on your own for this. Anyone who walked through the areas that the slurry walls were being done can vouch for this, though - it's pretty obvious some of the issues were happening. Do a google search on : inside dirt site:massbackwards.blogspot.com

It wasn't because they were minorities that the problem arose. The problem was that, to meet Massachusetts Transport Authority-set guidelines, a certain quota of those inspecting the work had to be of a minority. Now, let's head back to the 90s. How many unhired female hispanic certified construction workers with a good work history do you think there were?






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