My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


And the Nominees Are . . . . 

Regardless of the mathematical models that make it possible for Romney to remain in the race and hope to win, well . . .I've never been a Cleveland Browns fan, so I don't put much stock in "mathematical possibilities."

The race is over. McCain will be the Republican nominee. I'm very willing to be optimistic, but, as of this late hour, with 43% of the precincts reporting, McCain has a 15 point lead in California.

15 points. Game over.

So the really important questions are twofold, now. One, how does McCain forge a coalition of centrists to beat what looks like a Hillary Clinton candidacy? And two, what does Mitt Romney do now?

For McCain, the road is steep. Just from my own informal observations at the precinct caucus tonight, I would say that McCain may be among the least popular people in the world with Republican diehards. In the three precincts that reported their straw vote talley, McCain was third in two and fourth in the other. The core of the party does not trust him, and the one bill he seems destined to push through this Congress (McCain-Leiberman) won't win him any new friends.

I'll be curious to see what sort of a tone he strikes at CPAC on Thursday. Oration is not his strong suit (even Fox News cut away from his speech tonight to cover Obama), so if he decides to come out straight and say "this is who I am--I'm with you on 80%" then I can at least respect that, even if the other 20% is really important and he's REALLY wrong on it. On the other hand, if he tries to make some of the same awkward gestures towards conservatives that he has in the last couple months, he could just turn off all the people who might be willing to listen to him at this point.

I think what is more interesting is to watch what happens on the Democratic side. If the Dems look at McCain and, en masse, decide they don't want to send up against him another slightly cranky, old-school Washington insider, then Obama could be set up pretty nicely. We'll have to wait and see. Dems may just follow the Republicans down the "safe" path and put up their "heir apparent", too. Man, what a boring election that would be.

As for Mitt Romney, surely he sees the writing on the wall. A man who supposedly made his bones crunching data has got to be discouraged by the data he's seeing so far. So what now?

First of all, I hope he drops out sooner rather than later. Not because I want him out, but because, as a self-financed candidate, I think there are better uses for his personal fortune than buying second place finishes.

I think, if he wants another shot in four years, he should get out now and try to built party unity. That's the obligatory gesture of loyalty that is a minimum expectation of Republicans who fail to win the nomination.

And then he should take his millions and start helping people and parties who are being overrun by the debris from McCain-Feingold. For instance, we learned last week that two billionaire liberals are going to sink $12 million into this election in Colorado; I don't know why Romney would want to try to match that, but a 527 with a $2 or $3 million dollar stake could make an ENORMOUS difference in Colorado's Senate seat and the 4th and 7th CD's.

A little largesse spread around the country over the next four years could do Mitt a great deal of good, earning him the goodwill of a body politic that is starting to gather its non-perishables and extra long underwear for their trip into the political wilderness. He wouldn't have to be exorbitant, either--certainly nothing George Soros-like. If he could target 10-20 critical races and states and help create independent expenditure committes that would work on behalf of conservative/Republican causes, he could make a huge difference. And, in another four years, he would likely be lavishly rewarded by the GOP base. In fact, I'd like to volunteer my services to that hypothetical committee.

Beyond that, it would do him a lot of good to get deeply involved in the intellectual debates going on around the country. Perhaps he and Newt could come together to form a new Republican "ideas agenda" for the 21st century. Newt has always been a big idea guy in the party, and Romney could increase his name I.D., be involved in the intellectual discussions, and come out stronger for his next bid. Not to mention that being around Newt and probably being on numerous political panels like Hannity and Colmes would force him to grow a little spinal fortitude, so next time McCain lies about him he knows how to handle it right then and there.

I'm not going to sugar coat it--I'm disappointed in the outcome. I think McCain will be a terrible candidate, assisted only by Hillary's similar badness as a candidate.

Ronald Reagan lost a close battle with Gerald Ford in 76; political death is NOT a permanent state. How Romney handles the next 8 months will go far to determining what sort of candidate he will make in 2012.

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