Besides, Patrick says he's not running again for re-election, and has denied interest in any other campaign, including the tempting 2012 Senate race against Scott Brown. If Patrick was heading to the ballot box again, there would be more incentive to attack him — as Democrats are firing at Brown these days. Why bother attacking a popular guy, when you don't have to worry about beating him at the polls?

A pol who isn't looking to win another election is usually called a lame duck. But for Patrick, it seems to have helped him find his stride.

To read the Talking Politics blog, go to thePhoenix.com/talkingpolitics. Follow David S. Bernstein on Twitter @dbernstein.

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