Think of this as Volume 16, Number 40 of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
He's stiff, he's blind to the real world he never lived in, he has very little empathy for anyone outside his Mormon social circle. He spouts a Randian social gospel that's not from the Gilded Age, but from the Middle Ages.
But he's still the best candidate the Republicans had this year, and that's a more important point.
Let's look at who ran. A perennial candidate and radio talk show host whose only real experience lay in running a pizza chain that made bad pizza. A social neanderthal who lost his last statewide race by 20 points to a Democrat with all the charisma of wallboard. A pompous ass, and Newt Gingrich. A governor from a very big state who actually has no power and has shit for brains. Did I miss anyone? (No, I already mentioned Bachmann.)
Do you think any of those estimables could have run a better race than Willard the Rat? I don't. And if you think about it you won't either.
This has happened before.
Democrats looked around in 1972 and found dwarves running for their nomination. Alf Landon had to be practically pushed into the 1936 GOP nomination. William J. Bryan was a re-run in 1900. George McClellan.
It's what was happening below these nominees that was more important, and more determinative of the final result. These parties were collapsing for a common reason. The myths and values that had held them in power for a generation had crumbled beneath their feet, had become obsolete, and no longer answered the concerns of a new generation.
Mitt Romney's Republican Party has created a caricature of the President they're running against. He's George McGovern, elected because he was nothing more than a “magic negro” of the type Sidney Poitier played, and no more substantial. It's similar to the story McGovern told about Nixon, that he was a combination of Herbert Hoover and Joe McCarthy. In both cases, the base of each party internalized the incumbent as a grave threat to the Republic, as evil incarnate, and thought their way to victory led by simply defining him as they saw him, not running against a real person but who they imagined him to be.
For years Democrats acted as though Bush were an aberration, a uniquely unqualified fool who was totally overmatched by the task before them. He wasn't. He was, in fact, very typical of a late Nixon-era Republican, in that he had a fixed set of beliefs that should work in every circumstance, and when they didn't work all he could do was state them more loudly, or using different words, maybe shorter words.
When you grow up with one set of beliefs all your life, and those beliefs stop working because the times have changed, because the beliefs can't speak to the challenges of a new time, it's disorienting. Liberals felt this way in the Nixon Administration, and Republicans felt the same way under Roosevelt. It can make you crazy. Sometimes literally crazy, usually just politically crazy.
Mitt Romney was the best his party could do in 2012. He was a true believer in the ideology of his party, an ideology that was birthed under Nixon, reached its peak under Reagan, and fell apart under Bush. That ideology always had layers to it – the religious layer, the Austrian economics and Randian social theory layers, the neoconservative foreign policy layer. Each represented a wing of the party, a self-reinforcing iron triangle that over time hardened from a set of principles into an ideology.
Just like communism.
So the Obama Thesis of Consensus speaks to our time. It will speak to our children for some time to come. But there will come a day, probably long after I've passed, where it will not know what to say to some future time.
And then something else will come along. Something always does. The fact that something new always comes along is the genius of America. We're free to come up with stuff like that, free to imagine new ideologies that work for our times. We're free to adapt to change, and free to reject what won't change.
But for now, for this liberal, it's happy endings all around. I just know that there is no such thing as “ever after.” There is only today, only our time.