The GOP’s no-win proposition

Barney Frank once shared this bit of wisdom with a would-be candidate for a seat on the Boston City Council: You could lose or, even worse, you might win.

For mainstream Republicans, a variation on that now seems to be at play in the presidential race.

They can’t quite make up their minds about whether nominating Donald Trump would be a recipe for certain defeat in November, or whether he might just win — and wreak havoc in the White House.

It’s a sign of how quickly the conventional thinking changes that Trump has gone in a matter of months from a bombastic blowhard who would be little more than a flash in the primary season pan to the odds-on favorite to win the Republican nominee. From there, it’s no huge leap to begin imagining a Trump presidency.

Andrew Bacevich, the historian and international affairs experts, says the US under Trump would “cease to be a constitutional republic,” imagining it more like Argentina under dictator Juan Peron, “with Melania a suitably glamorous stand-in for Evita.” More than 50 Republican foreign policy experts have signed a letter declaring that a Trump presidency would be an international relations disaster, citing everything from his praise for Vladimir Putin to his lax attitude toward the use of torture.

While former Republican governor Bill Weld has said he could conceivably support Trump as the party’s nominee if he “settles down” — presumably Weld-speak for shedding one’s nativist, race-baiting, misogynistic ways — two of his Republican successors in the corner office are offering no opening for the orange-hued mogul who Esquire’s Charlie Pierce has dubbed the “vulgar talking yam.”

Mitt Romney is delivering a speech this morning in Utah in which he will reportedly call Trump a “phony” and a “fraud” and say that he is “playing the American public for suckers.” Gov. Charlie Baker, who declared before Super Tuesday that Trump wouldn’t be getting his vote, said on the day after Trump rolled up his biggest margin in Massachusetts that he wouldn’t vote for Trump in November, either, if he’s the nominee.

Romney seems to be in the camp that believes Trump would guarantee a GOP loss. “A Trump nomination enables her victory,” he will reportedly say this morning, referring to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

The Globe’s Matt Viser and Tracy Jan pick up on that same worry among Republican leaders in a front page story today. “Donald Trump will ensure that the state of Ohio becomes blue for the next four to eight years,” Clarence Mingo, a Republican county official in the Columbus area tells them.

But there’s really no telling how Trump would fare in a general election. Just below that story on the Globe’s front page is a piece by Annie Linskey, who writes that, if nominated, Trump just might be able to “ride his populist, outsider wave right onto the lawn at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” She says he is tapping the same wave of discontent that propelled Scott Brown (even if only briefly) into a US Senate seat in Massachusetts.

And in contrast to the worries expressed by Mingo that Trump will turn the Buckeye State blue for years to come, Linskey writes that Democrats have just the opposite concern about what the billionaire’s populist attacks on “fat cats” and hedge fund managers could mean for the electoral map.

“Even some Democrats acknowledge his message could provide him inroads with blue-collar voters in Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania who’ve more recently voted for Democrats but relate to Trump’s maverick nature,” she writes.




House Speaker Robert DeLeo pledges to limit non-compete agreements. (WBUR) He also throws his official backing behind a special carve-out for offshore wind power. (CommonWealth) A Boston Herald editorial praises DeLeo’s “middle path” on both energy legislation and non-compete clauses.

A House-Senate conference committee tasked with hashing out a compromise on legislation that would be the first update to the state’s public records law in 40 years decides to hold its hearings in open session, a break from the standard practice these days of closing conference committee negotiations to the public. (WGBH News)

The Senate Select Committee on Housing calls for millennial villages. (Masslive)

Secretary of State William Galvin’s office, ruling on a public records appeal from the Eagle-Tribune, orders Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera to turn over information on employees receiving special stipends. (Eagle-Tribune)

A Gloucester Times editorial urges Attorney General Maura Healey to help Gloucester fishermen fight a requirement that they pay for federal observers on their boats.


Haverhill is cracking down on drivers with out-of-state license plates, suspecting that most of them are held by Massachusetts residents who have registered their cars in New Hampshire to avoid paying excise taxes and automobile insurance. (Eagle-Tribune)

The Quincy teachers union signs a five-year agreement with the city calling for a 10 percent pay raise over that time period. (Patriot Ledger)

City officials say this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade will follow the same shortened route used last year to deal with record snowfall — and South Boston organizers are not happy about it. (Boston Globe)


The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe threatens legal action if the Massachusetts Gaming Commission awards a casino license to Rush Street Gaming. (Patriot Ledger)


The US Justice Department has granted immunity to a former staffer of secretary of state Hillary Clinton in connection with an investigation of her private email server. (Washington Post)


Mitt Romney calls Donald Trump a phony and a fraud and urges Republicans to shun him, according to a transcript of a speech he is scheduled to deliver today in Utah. (Associated Press) Romney’s speech reflects the panic setting in among the GOP establishment over Trump.

And then there were four. Ben Carson says he’s skipping Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate. (Time)

A Salem News editorial points out that the rising support for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders reflects voter dissatisfaction with Washington and the current stalemated status quo.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s chosen candidates take charge of the Republican State Committee. (Masslive) Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr says Baker may regret his move, and totes up the hackerama.


The US attorney’s office opens a civil rights investigation into allegations of racism at Boston Latin School. (Boston Herald) The family of a black student at the school who says she was the victim of one such incident speaks out. (Boston Globe) Boston school superintendent Tommy Chang wants to explore ways to increase the percentage of black and Latino students at Boston Latin. (WGBH News) Liz Marino of Summer Search says adults must step up when young people raise concerns about racism. (CommonWealth)

A study shows that a new Boston public schools hiring policy is resulting in a higher-quality, more diverse teaching staff. (Boston Globe) CommonWealth offered a deep dive on the new hiring approach when it was first put in place in 2014.


Midwives handle 16 percent of births in Massachusetts, but the percentage varies dramatically from institution to institution. (WBUR)


The MBTA shows a Somerville community meeting plans for scaled-down stations along the proposed Green Line extension, which faces pressure to dramatically reduce cost estimates. (Boston Globe)


Protesters plan to end their 116-day sit-in outside the office of MIT’s president after the university agreed to several steps to combat climate change — though this will not include divesting its holdings from fossil fuel companies. (Boston Globe)


The Worcester County District Attorney’s office, at the request of the Northwestern DA, will prosecute state trooper Sean Dennehy, who is charged with assault and witness intimidation in connection with an incident in Belchertown. (Masslive)

Molly Baldwin and Vincent Schiraldi call for a developmentally appropriate justice system. (CommonWealth)

A man on probation in Ayer shoots his gun into the wall and hits a woman lying on her bed in the next-door apartment. (Associated Press)