Is Mitt Romney the luckiest guy in the country?
Rick Perry’s remarkable meltdown in front of millions of people on national television Wednesday night adds to the growing sense of inevitability for Mitt Romney — if only because he may end up as the last one standing…
Mr. Perry’s entry into the race this summer was seen as the clearest threat to Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, who has struggled for months to overcome the perception that his supporters choose him reluctantly. Republican voters have lurched from one Romney alternative to another, searching for someone they feel kinship with, politically and personally.
But one by one, those alternatives have done themselves in, politically.
Gaffes. Inexperience. A lack of charisma. Just plain not knowing how to run for president. Each time surveys showed one of Mr. Romney’s rivals surging, something happened to bring down the campaign.
Mitt Romney: talk about a guy born on third!
I mean, really — do you recall how, about three years ago, everyone felt that Senator John McCain was going to win his Party’s nomination by default? Remember how McCain stood as a man among boys primarily because any other candidate worth his salt wasn’t interested in getting thwacked in the first post-Bush Presidential contest? McCain, good soldier that he was, struggled through the detritus of hacks, has-beens, phonies, and zealots that composed the GOP nomination contest until finally, eventually, he stood as the last man standing?
Compared to today’s field, the 2008 roster looks like a veritable All Star line-up.
Mitt Romney’s had to weather what, exactly? The charismatic fire-power — like a 1,000 burning suns, it was! — of Tim Pawlenty? The political dexterity and down-to-earth appeal of Rep. Michele Bachmann? The intellectual gravitas of…uh…whatever his name is; the dude from Texas? Herman Cain, a guy who makes Newt bleepin’ Gingrich look like Gloria Steinem and Sarah Palin sound like a fount of encyclopedic knowledge?
Almost any legitimate, serious, worthwhile and respectable pol would be embarrassed to be on-stage alongside these people, the splayed-out contents of the worst, most unpleasant, and least funny clown car in human history. Indeed, besides the drab and dweeby Pawlenty, Romney has been the only person up on those debate stages night-after-night that one could imagine holding his own in a Republican race, say, 20 years ago. Being the voraciously ambitious cipher that he is, he’s exploited this miserable situation to his utmost — which, tellingly, isn’t much — rather than abstain out of some higher belief in, if nothing else, his own dignity.
If he weren’t such a fundamentally unlikable, disingenuous-seeming guy, he would’ve had the nomination — should have had the nomination — wrapped-up weeks ago.
But since he is, and because he doesn’t, he’s still making his way up on that stage every month or so, doing his damnedest to seal the deal without too definitively weakening his appeal to a general public that, in all seriousness, isn’t especially pleased with the 9% rate of unemployment that’s defined the incumbent’s first term. It’s a rather unseemly balancing act, watching a man pander to some of the dumbest, angriest, and basest instincts in an audience without at least revealing a scintilla of genuine commonality with their worldview, contemptible as it may be. And Romney’s not especially good at it.
Then again, maybe Mitt Romney’s not quite the lucky one; maybe that guy goes by the name Obama.