Mitt Romney now joins the long list of the kinds of presidential candidates favored by the Republican establishment– nice, moderate losers, people with no coherently articulated vision, despite how many ad hoc talking points they may have.
The list of Republican presidential candidates like this goes back at least as far as 1948, when Thomas E. Dewey ran against President Harry Truman. Dewey spoke in lofty generalities while Truman spoke in hard-hitting specifics. Since then, there have been many re-runs of this same scenario, featuring losing Republican presidential candidates John McCain, Bob Dole, Gerald Ford and, when he ran for reelection, George H.W. Bush.
Bush 41 first succeeded when he ran for election as if he were another Ronald Reagan (“Read my lips, no new taxes”), but then lost when he ran for reelection as himself– “kinder and gentler,” disdainful of “the vision thing” and looking at his watch during a debate, when he should have been counter-attacking against the foolish things being said.
This year, Barack Obama had the hard-hitting specifics– such as ending “tax cuts for the rich” who should pay “their fair share,” government “investing” in “the industries of the future” and the like. He had a coherent vision, however warped.
Most of Obama’s arguments were rotten, if you bothered to put them under scrutiny. But someone once said that it is amazing how long the rotten can hold together, if you don’t handle it roughly.