Word was strategically getting around earlier today that the Massachusetts House and Senate were "getting to yes," as senate president Therese Murray has put it, on the gaming bill -- to include two licenses for slots-only facilities.
That was not yet officially announced, but was pretty clearly meant to be the story for the evening news.
But then Governor Deval Patrick stepped in. He made an appearance for the media, to announce that, whereas he has previously demanded a bill with no slots-only licenses, he is now willing to accept a single such license, if the legislature also passes five other bills he wants.
Freakin' brilliant. Instead of reacting after the fact to the deal, he got out in front and acted like he was making the first compromise, while at the same time implicitly saying he will veto the still-unofficial legislature's compromise.
I suspect it teed off the speaker and senate president, who are probably wishing Patrick had stayed in Afghanistan for another week so he couldn't put his nose into places he doesn't belong.
They just want to find a way to pass the bill and get out of Boston -- and then if Patrick vetoes, they can blame him.
But what do the legislative leaders do now? Go ahead and announce their compromise? Now that would now look like an act of deliberate defiance in the face of the governor's show of willingness to compromise. Then he's free and clear to veto it and blame them. So, I think they have to now at least go through some show of negotiating with him -- or, of course, do what he's asked for.
Well played, governor.