Barring the emergence of, in the immortal words of Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards, a dead girl or a live boy, it's all but certain that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for president. It's safe to say that there aren't too many Republicans deliriously happy about this outcome. Some may be satisfied, some may be pleased, many are disappointed, the majority are resigned, but if there are any Republicans jumping out of their chairs with excitement at the prospect of a Romney nomination, they haven't been located. And what's most amazing about it is that Mitt Romney really is the best they've got.
We have to step back and acknowledge just how fortunate Barack Obama is. With unemployment still over 8 percent, under ordinary circumstances you'd expect a sitting president's re-election bid to be all but doomed. But the GOP nominee is going to be an incredibly phony, unappealing guy with not a single evident principle who finds it impossible to relate to Earth humans and embodies everything people hate about the wealthy and Wall Street (even if he didn't actually work on Wall Street). And not only is Mitt Romney the best the Republicans have got, it isn't even close. Look at the collection of nincompoops and nutballs he's been up against in these primaries. Michele Bachmann? Herman Cain? Rick Perry? Newt Gingrich? Rick Santorum? Are you kidding me?
Predictions are dangerous, but I'm going to go ahead and make one right now: By November, the Obama campaign will have torn Mitt Romney into tiny little pieces, put those pieces into a wood chipper, and fed the dust that came out the other end to the worms. He'll end up the kind of failed nominee that no one wants to associate themselves with when it's over. Think Bob Dole after 1996, or Michael Dukakis after 1988.
It wasn't that long ago that Democrats were the Keystone Kops of American politics, getting out-fundraised, out-messaged, and out-organized by the Republicans. But in just a few short years, the ruthlessly effective GOP turned itself into a party of radicals and fools, ever eager to shoot themselves in the foot and outmaneuvered at seemingly every turn. Why did this happen? I get reminded again and again of something Garrett Epps wrote in the Prospect at the end of Bill Clinton's administration: that Clinton didn't destroy his enemies, he drove them insane, and they destroyed themselves. I think Barack Obama did (and continues to do) something similar to Republicans. Their hatred of him is so overwhelming, so powerful, that it clouds their judgment and twists their party into something ugly and incompetent. One can only imagine what they will do to themselves if he wins another four years in the White House.