The interesting thing about that New York Times story is the subtle comparison to Barack Obama. Pro-Hillary Democrats I talk to often argue that Obama will be eaten alive by the old bulls in a Democratic Congress, much like Jimmy Carter. It is clear that Patrick has Carter-like problems in Massachusetts.
For all their flaws, the four Republican governors of Massachusetts since 1991 were able to capitalize on their adversarial relationship with Beacon Hill Democrats in a way that Patrick can’t. It’s true that the Democrats are invested in Patrick’s success to a degree they never were Mitt Romney’s, which is why GOP governors saw most of their plans frustrated as well. But the Republicans could afford to take it to the mattresses on a few big issues, like tax cuts, where the majority of the state’s voters disagreed with the legislature. The legislature probably wouldn’t be giving Patrick such a hard time if the Republicans had a serious gubernatorial challenger on the horizon in 2010, but that doesn’t appear likely