You understand, we're in uncharted territory here: since the Civil War, the only Massachusetts governors who have entered a seventh consecutive year in office have done so only after spectacularly losing a bid to get the hell out of that office.
Put another way: nobody in living memory has ever chosen to run this Commonwealth more than six years.
People around the state could be forgiven for assuming that Deval Patrick wants to be rid of the place no less than his successors predecessors [fixed error]. After all, he spent much of 2012 traipsing cross-country preaching the re-election gospel of Barack Obama; and, having declared this his final term, he is now entering a lame-duck legislative session that could easily be little more than a long, slow "lone walk" out of the building.
Clearly, the Guv doesn't want people thinking that. The announcements pouring from his office over the past few weeks, leading up to tonight's State of the Commonwealth address, have seemed as calculated as the ones coming from Mayor Tom Menino's, and to the same desired effect: to stave off the vultures and body collectors, with assurances of life yet pulsing.
So, all the cabinet reshuffling, and big policy pronouncements, and a carefully propelled tax grenade to make sure everybody's paying attention. Patrick wants you to know that he wants to get some work done in his final two years.
This is a good thing. Governors, including this one, require some time to figure out how to do the job effectively; it's nice that we finally have one who wants to stick around long enough to put those skills to use -- and to spend any accumulated political capital on doing the job, rather than on trying to get a different one.
There will be plenty of time to debate whether he's making wise choices in the things he's trying to do, or how he's trying to do them. But let's take a brief moment first to appreciate that it's year seven, and he's still trying.