Romney: His Defeats Are His Credentials

Hillary, Bush and Romney — the three frontrunners — each find their candidacies greeted with a widespread response of “not again!” Voters wonder if we don’t have someone better than a retread Romney, yet another Bush or Hillary Clinton.

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But don’t sell Mitt Romney short. Republicans like losers and retreads. In fact, six of the last eight GOP candidates for president ran for president before and lost. Dole, McCain and Romney all lost in their second bids. But Nixon, Reagan and Bush-41 prevailed. (Reagan on the third try).

The Republican Party has a great deal in common with the old Tory Party in Britain, the pre-cursor of the modern day Conservatives. They are truly the King’s Party, even though we have no king. Legitimacy and familiarity are the hallmarks of its selection process. New names do not fare well.

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Consider the contrast in attitudes on each side of the Atlantic. Describing the CEO of a major company, Americans would express respect. But on learning that his father founded it, they would scoff that he hadn’t “made it on his own.” But the British — like the Republican Party in America — have it the other way around. They would wonder if the CEO was but “a flash in the pan” but would be reassured to know about his father’s work because they would figure that the son was of “good stock.”

In our current world of harsh negative ads and intricate vetting of a candidate’s past, where any mistake or errant comment — no matter how long ago — becomes a possible cause for defeat, the dynastic logic makes some sense. Its pretty clear that there is nothing in Romney’s past that we don’t know. All the negatives are out there. We won’t be surprised by a sexual harassment suit, as with Cain, or a comment on the safety of vaccinations, as with Bachmann, or a comparison of Social Security with a Ponzi scheme, as with Perry. All is in the public domain. His negatives and positives are very well known. Republicans like to be secure.

Can Romney win? Very possibly he can. There is no reason why his formula of massively outspending his primary rivals with his own money and savaging them with negative ads shouldn’t work this time as well.

His main competition in the early going will be Bush and Christie (and perhaps Perry) for the mainstream, establishment place in the semifinals. There he will meet the likes of Cruz or Paul or Rubio in the match that will determine the GOP nomination.

The nice thing for Mitt is that he doesn’t look like a has-been next to Bush or Hillary. If the need for new blood will go unmet among candidates of the past, then perhaps Mitt is the best of the bunch.

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