When Bill Weld Gets Back on His Game, We'll All Remember Why We Missed Him

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The second coming of Bill Weld is about to unfold. 
The polymath former governor, now 67, announced recently that he was ending a long career stint in New York City and returning to Massachusetts, where he will work out of the Boston law office of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo and of Mintz’s government relations (i.e., lobbying) affiliate, ML Strategies.  Reportedly, Weld is on the hunt for a home in his former burgh, Cambridge.
God, it will be good to have the big guy back. 
There’s been a serious humor deficit in the public life of the Commonwealth since Weld decamped for the Big Apple after his attempt to become ambassador to Mexico failed in 1997.
This is a man with a confidence, style and wit all his own, a man who:
·         Jumped fully clothed into the Charles River one hot day in 1996 after signing a rivers protection bill, only to find out later the fecal-coliform level of the water was 300% above normal.  “But I couldn’t very well tell anybody that, could I?” he noted sheepishly.
·         Admitted it was harder for him to get elected governor than to do the job of governor.  “I used to go on vacation for a week at a time and I wouldn’t even call in,” he said.
·         Loved to roam the woods in a private hunting preserve in the Adirondacks, but never hesitated to spoof his image as a great hunter.  In his official portrait at the State House, Weld is pictured outdoors, in a blue work shirt with rolled-up sleeves, an aardvark in the background.
·         Used to play multiple chess matches at the same time, blindfolded.
·         Railed against Bill Bulger, the Democratic president of the Massachusetts Senate when running for governor, and, after taking office, became Bulger’s friend and comedic foil.  Bulger would kid him about his ancestors having arrived on the Mayflower, and Weld would correct him by saying, “Actually, they sent the servants ahead to get the cottage ready for them.”
·         Wrote fiction on the side and came up with weirdly fascinating titles for a couple of his books:  “Mackerel by Moonlight” and “Big Ugly.”  Another of his books, “Stillwater,” is a literary novel based on the destruction of four Central Massachusetts towns in the Thirties to make way for the Quabbin Reservoir. (A New York Times reviewer, Erik Tarloff, once wrote, “Mastery of narrative strategy is not among Weld’s strengths…What Weld possesses – most unexpectedly in a moonlighting politician – is voice…The specificity of his mordant observations about politics, the law and assorted colleagues shows a real writer’s eye and ear at work.”)
·         Took and passed the New York Bar Exam, considered by many the toughest in the nation, in 2007, some four decades after earning a degree from Harvard Law School.
·         Deftly defended himself, during a brief fling for the Republican nomination for governor of New York, against the charge that he was a “carpetbagger.”   Weld, who grew up in an estate on Long Island, told an interviewer, “Yeah, I consider myself a New Yorker.  I consider that I got away with being a carpetbagger in Massachusetts the puny 30 years that I was there.  In Cambridge, if you’ve not been there for six generations, you’re a nouvelle arrivee.  In any case, I think Manhattan belongs not just to the United States, but to the world.”
In a monochrome world, he is a kaleidoscope of color. 
I hope we’ll see him soon on the sidewalks of Boston, towering above the crowd, and in the corridors at the State House, augustly hailing every other lobbyist as “Mr. Leader!” or “Representative!” I hope we’ll be able to buy him a drink in some high-class joint, The Federalist, say.
I hope, also, that Weld’s prediction, offered on the eve of the Republican national convention, that all the undecideds would break Romney’s way at the end, and that Romney would duplicate Reagan’s feat versus Carter, was only spin.

SHORT MEMORY DEPARTMENT: In a recent survey by the MassINC Polling Group, 33% of respondents said they'd never heard of Bill Weld, who, in addition to winning two terms as Massachusetts governor in the Nineties, served as the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts in the Eighties, and challenged U.S. Senator John F. Kerry's 1996 re-election bid in a very aggressive campaign that dominated media coverage in the state for weeks.  As Weld the old Harvard classics major might sigh to the servants, "Sic transit gloria mundi."  

1 comment:

DaK said...

I do remember Bil, and am glad for his return. Hopefully It will include a few entertaining and enlightening columns in the local press.

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