Philip Rucker and Amy Gardner,"Mitt Romney solidifies his front-runner status in Republican debate". October 11
Jonathan Martin, "Mitt Romney builds case for inevitability". October 12
Fred Barnes, "Romney Rolls On". October 11
SO let the record show that October 11, 2011, was the date the Cool Kids--and Fred Barnes--decided that it was time to stop kiddin' around and acknowledge Mitt Romney as clearly the most, if not the only, qualified Republican candidate for President, on the grounds there are no more Eagerly Anticipated Saviors left out there to decline to run, or run and get pounded. The wisdom, in other words, of the man who needs no more than three bricks falling on his head before he reaches for a hat. Romney's inevitability plainly rests on two factors: everyone else in the race is insane, with the possible exception of Jon Huntsman, who is a Mormon, and Newt Gingrich, who is a reptile; and the fact that while every Republican in the country hates him, the Smart Money, and the plain old Old Money, have finally decided they can't do any better.
Of course, some Money in the Republican party doesn't care for Romney on ideological--read: pathological--grounds, but most is supremely comfortable selling the hangman rope, so long as the markup is excessive and he pays cash. The distrust of Romney among Financial Republicans stemmed from his being a loose cannon, or as loose as a Republican cannon gets; Romney's Massachusetts record gave the impression of a man who, once in office, might do something designed to improve a problem, right a wrong, or make himself look reasonable. All red flags. Otherwise, of course, there're no worries whatsoever. He's a Republican. The last one to exhibit independent thought unconnected to a book deal was Dwight Eisenhower, and he was sedated immediately.
Of course the cynical among us, if there are any, might note that Romney is Inevitable this week, the way Christie, Perry, Ryan, Daniels, and Bobby Jindal were previously, and the cranky historian in the back somewhere might note that to date nobody's cast a vote for anything. Trifles. The Cool Kids have spoken, and they're tired of having to pretend they don't look like idiots five minutes after every utterance is published, assuming it takes that long. Fun's over. Sure, they'd toss Romney aside like blended Scotch at an open bar for the chance to drool over Sarah Palin for three weeks, but this one has, if not a sense of finality, at least the sense of everyone recognizing there's very little profit left to wring out of this particular reality show.
Romney's "inevitability" solves a number of problems. It allows the Finance wing to support him without looking any more cynical or amoral than usual, and it allows the ideologues to (eventually) support him without looking any more mazed than your average beaning victim. It allows Republican "thinkers" and objective "observers" to pretend they didn't really notice that every Teabagger favorite has the mental agility of tofu. And--although nobody's gonna mention this one--it gives Republicans a Presidential candidate who could turn activist if required--and activism is required if the GOP plans on making anything remotely resembling a dent in this economy--which they could drum up artificial enthusiasm for, then complain about later (see "George W. Bush wasn't really a 'conservative' "). The wider electorate, for example--not necessarily a font of perpetual good sense, but perhaps not quite ready to fall for President Crazy Eyes or An Even Dumber Dubya--may prove comfortable with the idea of selecting a Republican to derail Republican insanity, since the Democrats have proven more likely to enable it.
I am sad to see Herman Cain go, even though I personally feel that A Place on the Dais was more attention than he deserved. Cain seems to me the perfect embodiment of the Republican Entrepreneur scam, the walking reality where Mitch Daniels is only a government-sponsored theorist. Cain was a regional manager for one of Pillsbury's divisions (Burger King); and if that wasn't conclusive evidence of a deep-seated malevolence, for some reason Pillsbury moved him to its Godfather's Pizza crime family--the move speaks of some horrible transgression or physical over-familiarity with one of the Chairman's nieces, and ought to be cleared up--which Cain made profitable by closing half its stores. So: Herman Cain, Job Creator. He became CEO when a consortium finagled a buyout. In a country which actually valued economic leadership and jobs creation Herman Cain would be in jail. In one which knew enough about cuisine to distinguish chicken liver from chicken shit, he'd be in an unmarked grave. Instead he's a Republican candidate for President of the United States.
And, y'know, forgive me; Herman Cain must seem like a really deep thinker and an impressive, motivational, speaker, provided you're required to listen to him and have been convinced your minimum wage job depends on it. Jobs creator? What fucking job did Herman Cain create, beyond assistants to Herman Cain, that wouldn't have existed elsewhere or otherwise?
Okay, sure, the man got a computer science degree in the 1970s, so he's objectively smarter than I am, but he's on the national stage as a walking, talking billboard for the over-praised and under-scrutinized Republican Hero "Entrepreneur". I know, no amount of exposure to Herman Cain--even his nomination--would get Americans to finally make the connection between the Mythological Republican Job Creator and the Brain Dead, Entitled Asshole they work for, if they even have jobs. That shit's been implanted, the way mincing draft-dodger Duke Wayne became America's Greatest War Hero; sometimes I think even Mitch Daniels really believes it. I'm a withered charlatan. I'll take my amusements where I find 'em.
As for Romney, becoming inevitable by "defending" his own health care plan to a constituency which has spent the last four years treating universal access to health care as though it were the last nail in the Commie takeover of America, I think the real nominee ought to be whichever staffer came up with the States' Rights defense. It's genius, even if it did fly over the heads of the intended audience. And I was reminded that it was October four years ago when Democrats watched as the fate of the Free World was handed over, for one night, at least, to Tim Russert and John Edwards, who pulled us back from the abyss of New York state drivers' licensing requirements. You didn't have to be a Hillary Clinton fan to think that one stunk, and I can't figure what, if anything, Teabaggers are thinking now as they watch their four years of grunt work turned into a landscaping project for Romney's middle-class lawn. Maybe we should avoid October debates altogether. Maybe T.S. Eliot got his months mixed up. Or maybe he just never had to rake leaves.