THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Yvonne Abraham

Insecurity complex

By Yvonne Abraham
Globe Columnist / January 6, 2011

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He has answered the question so many times it makes him testy just to hear it. But I had to ask Governor Deval Patrick yet again: Are you really going to stick around for four more years?

You can’t blame us for being insecure. For a long time, Massachusetts’ relationships with its governors have been the stuff of bad country and western songs.

We fall in love with them and rush to the electoral altar. We send them to Beacon Hill thinking, this one’s a keeper.

Then they start to wander.

Which is why so many people doubt Patrick’s commitment to a full second term — which begins with today’s inauguration .

You’ve got to go back 30 years to find a governor who genuinely wanted to be with us for more than a term. And even Mike Dukakis tried to ditch us a couple of shakes into his third. Here was the marrying-est of marrying kinds, leaving us for that most public of flings — a presidential campaign.

At least he leapt back into the state’s arms within minutes of being jilted by the national electorate (though our relationship never really recovered).

Not so Bill Weld. Even before the end of his first term, Weld was the guy with the roving eye, always looking over our shoulders at parties, hoping for somebody hotter. Shortly after reelection in 1994, Weld was caught in flagrante electo, mulling a presidential run, taking a shot at the US Senate.

Then he resigned, rejecting poor, pasty New Englanders for a Latina crush. After his ambassadorship to Mexico imploded, Weld left Massachusetts altogether.

Paul Cellucci, Weld’s successor, abandoned us too, this time for people even pastier than ourselves. Being thrown over for Canada was even more humiliating than losing out to Mexico.

Mitt Romney was out of here almost as soon as he got in, traveling the land to prove his presidential timber. On the national campaign-trail, the one-term governor proved to be the kind who kisses and tells, chuckling with conservative voters about our state’s liberal love-handles. That hurt.

How do we trust any governor to stick around after all of that?

And so I had to have The Talk with Patrick yesterday. How committed are you to this relationship, I asked him, trying not to sound too desperate:

It was a phone call, but I could hear his eyes rolling.

“Honey, I have the job I want, and it was hard to get,’’ he said.

OK, the governor didn’t say “honey.’’ But the rest he did say, adding that he takes seriously “the trust that has been given to me by the people of the Commonwealth.’’ Four years isn’t very long, he said, and he has things he wants to do: Create jobs, fix education, rein in health care costs, reduce youth violence. I’d like him to do those things, too. But didn’t the others talk like that at some point? And unlike Patrick, they weren’t BFFs with a sitting president.

“How should I begin in the list of ways how I’m not like all the others,’’ Patrick said. “They said I wouldn’t run for reelection, and I did. Now we’re starting the ‘You’re out of here’ cycle again. Look back on experience: I tend to do what I say.’’

Yes, but what about the news that he’s going to do a lot more traveling in his second term, selling the state — and his book?

The book tour will be on his own time — and dime, Patrick promised me. And selling the state? Everybody does it, he said: That’s how you create jobs. I had to give him that one.

“You should take it as a sign that I am deepening my commitment to the state,’’ Patrick soothed.

Commitment! There’s that special word. Dare we believe once more?

Ask me in four years.

Yvonne Abraham is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at abraham@globe.com