Today Mitt Romney is faced with a simple yet profound question: Which of his failed former advisers will he rehire to fail to make him president once again?
Past advisers are pushing hard for Romney to run for president again in 2016. They stand to make millions if he does. And Mitt doesn’t care about the money. He can find millions in his couch cushions.
But the national press corps is less happy with the idea. It is the duty of the national press crops to descend from the hills after the battle is over to shoot the wounded.
The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser recently wrote, “If Mitt Romney decides to mount a third presidential campaign, his pathway to the 2016 Republican nomination could be far more difficult than in 2012, when he faced a weaker field of candidates who at times seemed to be auditioning for a reality television show.”
Whoa! Fact check time. Whom did Romney beat for the nomination in 2012? Well, Rick Santorum finished second; Newt Gingrich finished third; and Ron Paul finished fourth.
I ask you, is that a reality television show or a Comedy Central special titled “Stop Me Before I Run Again”?
Many analysts view Romney’s possible run as an attempt to undermine the candidacy of Jeb Bush, whom Romney views as a former governor with a pampered childhood who entered politics because of a famous father. No, wait. That’s Romney.
In any case, as veteran Republican organizer Craig Shirley told The Washington Times, “Bush and Romney presently occupy the same time-space continuum of moderate establishmentarians. In their parlance, they are playing out of the same golf bag.”
So you can see why Romney is angry. He tells his caddy to hand him his sand wedge, and the caddy drags out Jeb Bush.
But how big is the Republican establishment?
Once you take away all the Republican subgroups — the religious right, nonreligious right, sacrilegious right, extreme right, far right, middle right, right lite, anti-immigrant right, anti-feminist right and anti-civil rights right — what is really left except a negligible bunch of self-important white guys who have more money than they do sense?
The Republican establishment is like the upstairs characters on “Downton Abbey,” except nobody is witty or charming or knows how to shoot a quail without hitting his friends in the face.
Yet there are those who are pleased with a potential Romney-Bush showdown.
Pollster John Zogby wrote in Forbes recently: “Bring on the (Cruzes), Carsons, Santorums, Christies, Huckabees and Pauls. But watch the two real candidates (i.e., Romney and Bush) and listen to the real debate. One of these guys can actually win the presidency and save the party from itself.”
Not that this will be easy. Zogby pointed out: “The GOP goes into 2016 with a decided demographic disadvantage. In presidential elections, the electorate is less and less white and considerably younger than in off-year elections.”
So what to do? It is decades too late to start a white-breeding program that would have produced more old establishment Republicans by now.
Which is why some believe that the only hope the GOP has in 2016 is to disenfranchise the nonwhite and the young by making it more difficult for them to vote.
The new Republican strategy would be: “If you’re old and white, all right. If you’re brown or black, step back. If you’re young, go park my car and make sure nobody dings the doors.”
Who says Romney is really going to run? The Wall Street Journal broke the news last Friday. But the story about Romney’s addressing a group of donors in New York contained a single, secondhand, two-word quotation from Romney that was submerged in the eighth paragraph:
“At one point, an attendee asked whether the former Massachusetts governor was going to run for president, and he said he was ‘seriously considering’ another campaign, according to a person present.”
The Washington Post came up with a different quote, however. “‘I want to be president,’ Romney told about 30 donors in New York.”
There is an important difference between the two quotes, because there is an important difference between wanting to be president and wanting to campaign for president.
Personally, I want to be a cowboy, an astronaut and a pastry chef. But that’s not going to happen. I have a fear of horses, zero gravity and baking powder.
Does Romney really want to run for president again? Running for president is a grueling trial by combat. It is a meat grinder. And it should be. The presidency is a tough and demanding job, and only those who survive a tough and demanding campaign deserve to sit behind that desk in the Oval Office.
When you think about it, however, what does Romney really have to lose by running again? You lose a presidential campaign and people decide you were never qualified to lead in the first place; late-night comics make you a national laughingstock for years.
But you know what? That is precisely what happens if you win.