Romney does well in the places where Barack Obama does well, and he does poorly in the places where Obama does poorly. … On the upside for Romney, one could argue that he will be as competitive as a Republican can hope to be in the metro suburbs of Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Colorado, etc.
… But the downside for Romney in this ironic alignment between his geographic strengths and Obama’s is that it underscores how poorly suited he is for this moment in his party’s trajectory—and for the campaign he himself is trying to run. … But it does suggest that Romney’s paint-by-numbers anti-Obama message is a poor fit for him—such a poor fit that the voters who should be most receptive to it are seeing through it for the cynical confection that it is.
Hmm. Do you doubt that Rick Santorum despises Barack Obama, and genuinely sees him as a mortal threat to America? I don’t. I don’t for a minute believe that Romney shares this passion, no matter what Romney says on the stump. And I think this speaks well of Romney, by the way! I mean — to be clear — I don’t care for Obama, and I’m deeply concerned about what a second Obama term may mean for religious liberty. But I don’t hate the guy, and when I hear apocalyptic rhetoric from Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich about how America is thisclose to becoming the People’s Republic of Obamastan if the GOP loses the fall election, I feel both amused and insulted.
Romney as Obama-Hating Crusader and Conservative Ideologue seems phony because it is phony. He’s a technocratic business Republican with a genial personality. Not my kind of Republican, generally — the business Republican part — but I trust Mitt Romney to have a more measured, indeed more accurate, read on the nation he would have to govern as president than an angry ideologue like Rick Santorum. Again, temperament is so, so important. Some people hate Obama so much they can’t see how likable he comes across to average people — and that’s a quality that will be highlighted even more if Obama has the good fortune of facing off this fall against a dour, rigid, perpetually pissed-off Santorum.
If Romney is elected in November, the same conservatives who are turning out to vote against him now are going to make his presidency hell. They despise him, and they will be eyeballing him intensely, looking for evidence of deviation from the True Path.