by Jason Williams, Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 04:26:39 PM EDT
Amidst the hundreds of pre-post-mortems going for Romney's campaign, Washington Post's Richard "Liberal" Cohen --sniff-- misses Ron:
In 1980 Ronald Reagan won the Republican nomination. He beat a future president, George H.W. Bush; two future Senate majority leaders, Howard Baker and Bob Dole; and two lesser-known congressmen. This year Mitt Romney won the GOP nomination. He beat a radio host, a disgraced former House speaker, a defeated Senate candidate, a former appointee of the Obama administration, a tongue-tied Texas governor, a prevaricating religious zealot who happens to serve in the House of Representatives and a cranky libertarian doctor. Where did all the talent go?
Cohen longs for the intellectual heavy-weights of yore (George W. Bush and Reagan?) and concludes that the only solution, as is all things, infinity is more moderates voting for more trickle-down Republicans, more NeoCon foreign policy Republicans and more top-end tax cut Republicans. In short, more of everything Romney is running on, but spoken moderately? Or something.
Pretending the trend this cycle is a full rejection of GOP ideas (just like the opposite in 2010) is a miss, but even further off the mark is pretending Obama is winning this election merely because the Republican field was weak. It was weak. So weak it was fun.
- Agree with Cohen, George W. Bush and Reagan did, indeed, win their elections. But neither were particularly strong candidates on the trail.
- The overall not-sucking-enough economy kept a few Republicans stronger than, say, Herman Cain out of the race, sure, but even with them in Romney would've probably been the favorite.
- Romney was never that electable to begin with.
- House Republicans tarnished the brand. Extreme ideas like redefining rape scare many voters. Probably more than one independent voter out there still wondering how the hell Planned Parenthood fits into the GOP recovery plan, for sure.
- The Romney campaign has been a disaster, and campaigns matter some.
All true, but none are a good way to understand Obama's lead. Jonathan Bernstein:
[...]the easiest interpretation of what’s going on right now is that, if Obama leads by 3 to 4 points, only a point or two needs to be explained beyond the fundamentals. At best, we’re talking about maybe 5 or 6 percent who would otherwise be voting for Romney but currently appear to be supporting the president. That’s still worth studying, of course — but it’s a relatively small effect overall.
The basic story here is that, after all, it is the economy.
The economy, and incumbency. Romney's campaign follies, GOP vs. Pollsters, and the (inevitable) Fox News meltdown are just the icing on the cake.