Mitt out of luck

It turns out the third time isn’t charm after all. Or, if it is, we’ll never know.

After flirting for a couple of weeks with another run for president, our erstwhile governor, one-time Belmont resident, and owner of mega-manses in many states said on Friday that he won’t enter the 2016 Republican contest.

The idea that Mitt Romney was considering a third run struck many as ludicrous, and in the end the would-be candidate seems to have come to the same conclusion, though he did not couch his decision in exactly those terms. Romney said he simply decided it was time to let others in the party take the lead, with a reference to the need for fresh faces that was a not-too-subtle jab at Jeb Bush.

Many are weary (for very good reason) of Maureen Dowd’s penchant for psychoanalyzing politicians without a license. Her columns on Barack Obama, with their patented references to him as “Barry,” as if she had located all the problems of his presidency in some identity crisis rooted in the time he went by that name, have become an all too familiar staple.

But Dr. Dowd may have been on to something with her column in yesterday’s Times peering deep into the recesses of Mitt.

The gist of MoDo’s take is that, after so many reinventions, it was hard to keep track of which model of the son of the one-time American Motors Corp. CEO was now being rolled into the showroom. So Mitt was ready to run as the real thing. He would simply be himself. He would be moderate, problem-oriented, and loose and funny — at least as loose and funny as his goofy Mormon grandfather ways permitted.

The psychobabble part came with Dowd’s reporting (at least based on one unnamed Friend of Mitt) that the source of Romney’s great revelation came last year when he viewed the documentary Mitt, a chronicle of his 2008 and 2012 campaigns in which Mormon filmmaker Greg Whiteley was granted unusually broad behind-the-scenes access to the candidate and his family. Romney realized, writes Dowd, that “he should have run his races as Mitt – with all the goofiness, Mormonism, self-doubt and self-mockery thrown into the crazy salad.”

As Dowd put it, it took the “reel Mitt” to show Romney who the “real Mitt” was.

He started to lay the groundwork for Mitt 3.0, the Real Thing, in a speech last week in Mississippi, where he poked fun at his own wealth while trying to be serious about the problem of entrenched poverty. The Globe’sJoan Vennochi was right to point out that there is nothing crazy — or inherently contradictory — about a super rich American leader taking on such issues, pointing to the long history of Roosevelts and Kennedys doing just that. Whether Romney could actually fashion a coherent, Republican message on the problem of wealth inequality, on the other hand, was another matter. And now we’ll never know.

It was all a bit too late. After having once pronounced himself “severely conservative,” and after dissing the 47 percent of American takers who would never vote for him, Romney had enough strategic miscues on his record to make Pete Carroll feel not so bad this morning. (OK, maybe not.)

The reality is that Romney has such a parodic history of shameless shape-shifting, it would have been hard to convince lots of people that there is some authentic person in there, with firm principles and views that they can count on.

“It’s a sad story of discovery,” the Republican Romney friend told Dowd. “He kept going through campaigns and evolving closer to himself. Then he saw the documentary and it was liberating, showing 100 percent of himself instead of 80. But it was too late. You don’t really get three shots.”

–MICHAEL JONAS

BEACON HILL

Power corrupts and other MetroWest Daily News thoughts on Speaker Robert DeLeo’s success in abolishing term limits. Over at the Item in Lynn, however, the editorial page says getting rid of the term limit for speaker was a good idea.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Direct from the Twitter account of Mayor Marty Walsh: “cue the duck boats!”

OLYMPICS

A two newspaper-town-moment followed a weekend press availability with IOC chairman Thomas Bach, who was apparently taking in the Super Bowl in Arizona. A Sunday Globe story seemed to pump up his views on Boston’s Olympic chances, saying he viewed the city as having “great potential” to offer a compelling narrative to win the selection, based on its history and renowned universities. The Herald’s Steve Buckley has a more even-keeled take, the bottom line of which seems to be: Take a chill pill. Bach’s “great potential” quote, which is the Globe’s lead, appears in the last sentence of Buckley’s column. Much higher up is Buckley’s central message, quoting Bach as saying “it’s way too early” in the process to know where things will land.

The rest of New England likes the idea of a Boston Games.

Ben Forman, research director at MassINC, doesn’t like the Boston-centric games. He wants to spread the wealth around the state.

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Obama is proposing a one-time corporate tax to fund road and bridge repairs, Time reports.

ELECTIONS

The Globe’s Michael Kranish has a deep dive on Jeb Bush’s formative years at Phillips Academy in Andover in the late 60s, where he was a so-so student but apparently a prodigious pot smoker.

A Barnstable state rep, Democrat Brian Mannal, is pursuing what appears to be the first test of a 1946 statute that prohibits making knowingly false campaign statements against a candidate. Legal experts suggest he faces an uphill battle, and the result of the case could be the voiding of the law on free speech grounds.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A New Bedford auto parts maker, with support from local and state officials, is pushing the EPA to adopt uniform car emissions standards, which vary among the states and make it hard to remain profitable.

EDUCATION

With yet another storm upon the region, officials are struggling with school closing decisions, trying to balance student safety from unplowed sidewalks, parents’ problems with jobs and daycare, and a dwindling number of snow days that will extend the school year.

Stoughton Schools Superintendent Maguerite Rizzi had a clause inserted in her contract that allows her to form an outside consulting business, an action that has the town’s teachers’ union up in arms.

The Salem News reports on the patchwork quilt of kindergarten offerings across the state.

Some trustees are unhappy with UMass president Robert Caret’s abrupt announcement that he’s leaving to head the University of Maryland.

The National Review weighs in on the “persecution” of Gordon College in Wenham since the president of the Christian school came out in favor of a religious exemption from President Obama’s order last year banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

HEALTH CARE

A discredited report that claimed there was a connection between vaccines and autism is continuing to have an impact on public health as some parents still refuse to vaccinate their children.

California launches a campaign to curb e-cigarette smoking, Governing reports.

About 4 million workers in Republican-controlled states that refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act fall into the netherworld of a coverage gap, making too little to qualify for federal subsidies and too much to qualify for Medicaid.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Inspectors from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission begin a week-long inspection Monday of Pilgrim power plant in Plymouth to determine why the facility shut down during last week’s blizzard.

Andover sends state environmental officials a $10 million plan to cap a landfill that has been contaminating nearby wetlands, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Nineteen congressmen from New England signed onto a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission expressing concerns about the scheduled energy auction set for Monday, saying last year’s auction failed to address skyrocketing prices.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A bevy of big-wigs have stepped up on behalf of former Big Dig czar James Kerasiotes, penning letters asking for leniency to the federal judge due to sentence him today on tax fraud charges. Coordinating the power parade is Kerasiotes’s lawyer, former governor Bill Weld.

The chief of the Arlington Police Department, Frederick Ryan, won’t be leaving to take over the Transit Police Department after all. Ryan was due to assume the new post on March 1, but has backed out of the new job, citing personal reasons.

The Globe’s Maria Sacchetti has the story of a Czech emigre and serial ne’er-do-well who keeps getting deported from the US — and inexplicably reentering the country.

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

MEDIA

New York Times media writer David Carr takes a look at Rupert Murdoch and Michael Bloomberg and how the two media moguls wield their influence.