Mitt Romney must be feeling pretty good right about now. As he launches his presidential campaign, his two chief rivals look like numskulls: Rudy for losing his playbook, and McCain for being one of the lucky 13 Republican Senators who support his surge doctrine. Meanwhile, every conservative commentator in the country is patting the outgoing governor on the back -- thanking him for the latest and, so far, most successful attempt to reverse marriage equality in Massachusetts.
And so, a triumphant Governor Romney hurriedly filed his exploratory committee papers today, his last full day in office.
Yet only a few weeks ago, it seemed plausible that Romney's filing wouldn't come until later in the month. Romney would still get the jump on McCain, the logic went, but more importantly, by then he'd be known to primary voters as the former Governor of Massachusetts.
And that's because Mitt Romney views his identity just like every policy position he's ever taken: temporary.
For example, as former Governor, Romney bases his presidential campaign in his home (purpler) state of Michigan. As former Governor, Romney is more readily identified with the Salt Lake City Olympics and making the state that elected him the butt of his jokes. As former Governor, GOP primary voters might even forget how
short non-existent Romney's coattails were in 2006, allowing his Republican lieutenant governor to get housed by political newcomer Deval Patrick, who will be the first Democratic governor since Dukakis.
But not now. The wind is too strong at his back. For this week, it'll be Governor Romney. The Governor who, in his final days in office, pushed hard to dump the civil rights of thousands of his constituents. The Governor who, in his final days in office, appointed a non-scientist, stem-cell research skeptic to control state funding of that very research. The Governor who, in his final days in office, ordered that persons suspected of being illegal immigrants be arrested on sight.
But soon, that frame will lose it's luster, his political fortunes will change, and the Governor will reconsider, deciding to recast himself as the former Governor.
It is for this reason Romney will be an unsuccessful presidential candidate. It is, in fact, the same reason fellow Bay Stater John Kerry was: voters will inevitably see him as a political windsurfer, catching the latest gust, and riding it for all it's worth.
So, enjoy your windy day in the sun, Governor. It won't last.