Mitt Romney Could Have Been A Shoo-In — Updated

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Mitt Romney, for all the irritating inevitability story lines, could have been inevitable. Instead, he’s fighting for his life against an annoying former Senator who lost his last race by 18 points. No big loss, there. Mitt didn’t even run again, so sure he was of losing.

Mitt should already be the nominee but he’s not and the reason for that is simple: He could not throw the center right even one conservative bone. Not. One.

Wait, check that. Two bones. He pandered on illegal immigration, but that was just to get rid of Rick Perry. Remember him? Yeah, the guy who was a fiscal conservative with social conservative underpinnings and oodles of executive experience. Oh right, he had a few bad debates.

But I digress.

So we’re left with Mitt duking it out with Rick Santorum and Newt who has been quiet as of late. Or is it that the press and pundits want him gone and/or are bored of him so just refuse to engage with or talk to him?

No matter. Mitt should have this wrapped up and he doesn’t. He could have it wrapped up if only he were willing to pick one conservative idea that he likes now, liked once and has consistently liked.

Problem? There isn’t one. Even the illegal immigration stuff is undermined by his workers being illegal aliens. He’s not that offended by them, evidently.

If there was a government intervention, Mitt loved it.

He has a difficult time speaking passionately about a conservative idea because he’s worked hard at being bland and inoffensive to liberals.

Mitt has made almost no effort to shore up the base. The calculation has been thus: Obama is such an atrocity that the Republican candidate shouldn’t offend the center, the base will do what it’s told.

That might have been true if the Republican party hadn’t already burned every bridge with the base. They didn’t just burn them though, they torched them and put conservative heads on spikes along the way. (Not sure about that? What happened to Sarah Palin couldn’t have happened if the Republican hierarchy, lead by John McCain hadn’t sat on their hands.)

The Republicans have been pushing back at the conservative base. They insulted them with No Child Left Behind and creating loads of agencies in a post-9/11 world and sealed the deal with government bailouts of banks, Wall Street, GM, and every sort of shifting money from taxpayers to irresponsible institutions and people.

And then there’s Obamacare. And Romneycare. Does this even need to be explained? Yanking the choice away from people responsible enough to buy insurance and making the responsible pay…for less.

And Romney defends it all.

If he could convincingly say that he made mistakes and give a soaring speech defending liberty and the American way, that contrast would be enough to ensure his candidacy. He’d win in a landslide.

He simply can’t do it. For months, he’s had the opportunity to speak imaginatively and passionately about America, the individual and possibility.

So, he fights for his life in the GOP primary losing to a guy who at least believes something. Santorum, is rather annoying but he at least believes the conservative rhetoric he speaks about.

Is Santorum a big-government guy? Yep. He’s G.W. Bush part deux. GOP base voters are deciding that’s better than Obama-lite.

Mitt Romney could have had it all and a lot easier, but he just can’t close the deal. He just can’t sell conservative…anything.

UPDATED:

Bethany Mandel has some advice for the Romney team:

If Romney can’t shake the perception others have of him, this will be a replay of the 2000 Gore campaign. In the summer before the 2000 election, the Washington Post reported that 65 percent of Americans thought Gore’s “stiffness” was a problem for his campaign, and the same amount of voters said the word “inspiring” did not apply to him. Leading up to the 2000 election, “Saturday Night Live‘s” number one caricature of Gore was how Romney will be portrayed if he becomes the nominee: A robot. With a public relations shop as bad as Romney’s, get ready for some reruns.

Go read the whole thing.

And, via TPM, ugh: