I don't know how many words I wrote about Mitt Romney over the last five years, but I'm sure it topped 100,000. So I'll almost miss him now that he's gone, and I'd like to offer a couple of (perhaps) final thoughts on him. In defeat, Romney's sins become easier to forgive, and we can acknowledge that he isn't without personal virtues. We'll never know how he would have performed in the difficult moments, when forced to deal with an unexpected crisis or confronted with choices in which every option was a bad one. Perhaps his lack of rigid ideology would have helped him.
It's sometimes said that presidential candidates come in two forms, the "conviction" candidates like Goldwater, McGovern, or Reagan who run for a cause, and the others, who run for themselves. Though it may be impossible for any politician, even the most ideological, to run for president without being an egomaniac, Romney stands apart even among his peers for having run for no cause in particular.
That isn't necessarily as harsh a criticism as it might sound. A person of intelligence, wisdom, good decision-making ability and strong management skills might perform well as president in many ways, irrespective of the actual agenda he pursued. And someone lacking in those traits who nevertheless had the beliefs you agree with could end up doing terrible harm. But for better or worse, we choose our presidents not only for what kind of people they seem to be, but how they make us feel about ourselves. And this was a problem Romney never found a way to solve.