The Republican Establishment is now embracing the Inevitable—-not with the usual alacrity of hopping on a winner’s bandwagon but a heavy-legged weariness of just wanting to escape the GOP primary swamp.
“I think he deserves to be the nominee,” Paul Ryan says in announcing his support as the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall overshadows the primary. “I think he earned it.”
The elder George Bush sounds similarly resigned, pointing out Barbara had reminded him of the Kenny Rogers song “The Gambler” (“You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold em”), adding, “Well I think it’s time for people to all get behind this good man.”
Even future star Marco Rubio announces with no excitement, “We have got to come together behind who I think has earned this nomination, and that’s Mitt Romney,” and, without betraying either sadness or relief, notes, “I don’t believe I’m going to be asked to be the vice presidential nominee.”
Such bounded enthusiasm, entirely in keeping with Mitt Romney’s charisma deficit, presages a campaign that will have to emphasize Barack Obama’s deficiencies rather than his hopeful replacement’s virtues.
Peggy Noonan gives it a try by labeling the President “A Not-So-Smooth Operator,” making a not-so-compelling case that he is coming across “more and more as a trimmer, as an operator who's not operating in good faith. This is hardening positions and leading to increased political bitterness. And it's his fault, too. As an increase in polarization is a bad thing, it's a big fault.”
The evidence consists of such scraps as Obama’s waffling on contraception for Catholic institutions, his personal comments on the Trayvon killing and the Supreme Court hearings on the health care mandate, which “have made that law look so hollow, so careless, that it amounts to a characterological indictment of the administration.”
We will be hearing many versions of this tune from now until November, as Republicans look for a way to “Strike Up the Band” for their leaden-footed default choice, but there isn’t much chance that Mitt Romney will be lighting up the tube with his own version of “Dancing with the Stars.”
Update: Romney is feeling cocky enough to tell voters, “I got a good boost from the folks in Illinois, and if I can get that boost also from Wisconsin, I think we’ll be on a path that will get me the nomination well before the convention.”
Oil up the bandwagon wheels.