I don’t know how the election is going to turn out in November. But I can tell you that I think it’s going to be difficult at times to not sing choruses of “I Told You So” to plenty of folks on the left who have been delighting (or at least faking it) throughout the Republican primary process. No matter how many times I, or others, pointed out the nature of presidential primaries, and the fact that there would be a unified focus on Obama in the general election, liberals continued laughing and joking about the fractured nature of the right.
That was accompanied by the over-used, “Oh we can only hope that Obama gets to go against (insert whichever Republican was being praised at the time here)” line. And once it became clear that it was going to be Romney, the left feigned total elation. After all, they couldn’t have scripted a better opponent for Obama to face, right? Consider what the Financial Times recently noted about the presumptive Republican nominee:
He is a north-eastern moderate, and a Mormon, at a time when Republicans are more conservative, Christian and southern than ever. Worse, the core of his signature health reform in Massachusetts mirrors the very shake-up Mr Obama is so reviled by conservatives for.
After a banking crisis that triggered the worst economic downturn in the west since the great depression, Mr Romney also has a background in a corner of finance, private equity, known for high-risk leveraging and ruthlessness.
The notion that Americans might vote in a financier as their next president might have seemed preposterous two years ago as the banking crisis spread to the real economy.
But something funny happened on the way to Obama’s cakewalk re-election. Republicans began to coalesce around Romney and pointing out the significant differences between him and Obama. Perhaps there’s not as stark of a contrast as many of us would have preferred, but there are plenty.
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Add to that the fact that Obama’s campaign is startlingly off message on a consistent basis (the dog eating, the War on Women implosion, the botched gay marriage statement, etc.), and the fact that much unlike John McCain in 2008, Mitt Romney’s campaign seems quite prepared to respond quickly and forcefully to the president’s attacks. So much so, check out what the same Financial Times piece noted about Romney:
“Some presidents manage to knock the edge off the opposition’s opposition, but not this one. Mr Obama is not a neutral figure,” says William Galston, of the Brookings Institution, who worked in Bill Clinton’s White House.
Mr Romney and his campaign have displayed the kind of efficiency and ruthlessness necessary to win presidential elections and combat Mr Obama’s own well-resourced and hardened machine.
Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives who was eventually swept aside by Mr Romney in the primaries, described his rival as someone “strong enough to look you in the eye and run over you”.
“Having collided with him and his organisation head-on and now working with his campaign, he has assembled a very smart group of people,” Mr Gingrich told MSNBC. “He is approaching this as methodically as anybody I know.”
Romney still has challenges. He is facing an incumbent president with a lot of money and who totally owns the major media outlets. But the idea that Obama was going to walk to re-election or that, as some on MSNBC were suggesting over the course of the past couple years, we should just cancel the election and Republicans could start looking to 2016 (seriously, how does Joe Scarborough get a national television program?), is now as absurd to everyone else as it was to us then.