By R.B. Scott
Note: This piece was originally published by the Cognoscenti at WBUR Boston Public Radio
San Francisco, CA - Even a riotously imaginative novelist wouldn’t dare create a wildly improbable tale like the one W. Mitt Romney, once an honors English major and a better-than-average wordsmith himself, is writing with every bob and weave he makes.
Hero in Mitt’s improbable story is, of course, himself: a fabulously wealthy capitalist who, as the story begins, mounts a daring challenge against the iconic heir of America’s most celebrated political family, in the nation’s most liberal state. Hero loses, of course.
Cue Horatio Alger.
Licking wounds, off goes Hero to cure the alleged corruption of a Winter Olympic Games in Utah that is embarrassing America at home and abroad. There in shadow of the towering Wasatch Mountains, in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, Hero finds himself striding alongside the President of The United States onto the world stage. The Games are a joyful and vibrant scene, broadcast around the globe, of America as it was intended to be, a spectacularly visible victory for Hero who has suddenly become a real hero, a formidable force to be reckoned with.
Within eight months, the voters who once gave him the backs of their hands elect him governor of the most liberal state in the union. He governs effortlessly and visibly, if distractedly, for one term before he spurns reelection to run for President of The United States in 2008, again 2012 and, as it is turning out, again in 2016. Clearly, Hero is as ambitious and fiercely dogged as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and Jerry Brown. Or, perhaps, he is simply as obsessed as Harold Stassen, once an equally accomplished Republican presidential candidate whose chronic perennial losing quests turned him into a national joke!
Here come a few more fanciful possibilities that may come to pass:
One: With only his personal legacy at stake, Hero finally becomes authentic, as socially responsive and independent as his father George who, as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Nixon administration developed and promoted “Open Communities,” an unprecedented affirmative action housing program that ultimately put him crosswise with the president’s pandering and regressive Southern Strategy. Or, he could turn as provocative and progressive as his mother Lenore, who supported reproductive rights and a national healthcare program during her unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate in 1970.
True to those legacies, not to mention his own yet untold backstory, Hero has already informed key donors that he will be the “anti-poverty” candidate in 2016, an unmistakable signal that that Obamacare, modeled on Romneycare in Massachusetts, won’t be going away any time soon. He seems to grasp that only he – and possibly Jeb Bush – has the standing to moderate the arch views of his party’s social conservatives. Should he get the nomination, Hero might carry the liberal state he once governed that went for the other guy in 2012.
Two: Talk about serendipity: thanks in part Hero’s experience and connections with the United States Olympic Committee, Boston could be the site of 2024 Olympic Games, the big one that has long been fraught with peril, cost-overruns, and graft along with real opportunities (think mass transit, bridges, roads and athletic venues) for the host city. Do the math. If elected President in 2016, and re-elected in 2020, Hero would be just completing his second term as The Games get underway.
The recent tragic events in Paris and practically everywhere, particularly the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, suggest clearly that security will be the major issue – an estimated $1 billion expense. Smooth cooperation between Federal, State and City political leaders and law enforcement is absolutely critical. Would local organizers of the games, including the IOC and USOC sleep more comfortably knowing they had a savvy friend in the White House, a Bostonian, a former governor who knows his way around the state, and is personally familiar with how things really work, but often don’t, with various organizations, including the International Olympic Committee et al?
Three: What went round is coming round. Governor Charlie Baker, who will likely be sitting atop Beacon Hill for all of the heavy-lifting run-up to The Games, may finally be rewarded for his unstinting loyalty. Remember it was Charlie who deferred to Hero in 2002 and again in 2006 when he anointed Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healy as his heir apparent. Reportedly, Baker and Boston 2024 Chairman Dan O’Connell would love to sign-on Hero as their key Olympic advisor.
The Sequel: Should Hero strike out a third time, don’t expect a bitter cavil, like Nixon’s after losing California’s 1962 gubernatorial election to Jerry Brown’s father("You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore…”). Disappointed again, Hero will cheerfully move on to the next assignment. By then Boston’s Olympic Games may be in need of a hero.
This bit of historic family hyperbole may foreshadow the epilog to Hero’s improbable fantasy: “If a Romney drowns, look upstream for the body.” Of such fanciful stuff is Forever Mitt: The Novel made!