Peggy Noonan notices the real Romney blunder this week:
He wins Jeb Bush’s endorsement, he’s flying high, and he immediately follows it with a full-body pander to George W. Bush and the first Wall Street bailout, which Republicans on the ground, many Democrats and independents, too, view with increasing distaste.
This was a significant blunder, but Romney seems to have been saved from the consequences of this by the “Etch-a-Sketch” remark. As the week draws to a close, hardly anyone is talking about his celebration of Bush and Paulson. What makes this so remarkable is that this is one of a very few measures that Romney initially supported and still supports today. Oh, he’s indulged in some absurd hair-splitting about imaginary differences between Paulson’s TARP and Geithner’s TARP, but for some reason he can’t bring himself to disown one of the most unpopular programs associated with one of the most unpopular postwar administrations. Whatever else he is, Romney wants to make clear that he is a pro-bailout corporatist, and that is what we should expect from him in office.
Noonan gets something else wrong later:
Almost all of 2012 will come down to plans and policy, to which path seems likely to get us out of the muck.
In truth, the outcome of the general election will depend on the rate of growth and improvement in monthly jobs numbers. However, more important than either of these will be the public’s perception and experience of the current state of the economy.