Sorry, but the lady’s right. From my New York Post column today:
Lost in the weekend’s back-to-back debates in New Hampshire was this illuminating remark by Democratic strategist Donna Brazile after Saturday night’s soporific contest in Manchester: “Mitt Romney won tonight because no one touched him. And for Democrats, you know what? It was good news for us . . . because we believe that the weakest candidate is the candidate that the Republicans are not attacking. And that’s Mitt Romney.”
The remark drew guffaws from some of the other assembled party faithful and media commentators, but Brazile spoke the truth. Democrats do believe that Romney is eminently beatable, the perfect foil for President Obama, in fact.
And yesterday’s debate on “Meet the Press” amply illustrated her point.
This will probably bring me the usual array of brickbats, but let me, as the president likes to say, be perfectly clear. I have nothing against Mitt Romney. He’s a fine, intelligent man. He’d very likely be a good president — certainly better than the one we have now — and if he’s the candidate, I’ll probably vote for him.
But is he the candidate the hour calls for? Plainly not. He shows no sense of the urgency of the tasks before him, nor of the enormity of the catastrophe awaiting him. His Bain Capital record is going to be a liability, not the plus he thinks it is, since the the GOP is going to have to defend it in theory (the joys of creative destruction capitalism) while the media-wired Democrats will sob-sister it to death (bread lines and soup kitchens).
Meanwhile, Democrats and their media allies have been busy measuring Romney for the Occupy Wall Street/One Percenter memorial bad-guy suit. They can’t wait to rip him apart over his background as a corporate turnaround specialist who may have saved some golden parachutes but put ordinary folks out of work.
Which is why Romney needs to experience this assault from his own side first, to toughen him up for next fall. Off yesterday’s evidence, he’s still got a long way to go before he learns how to respond.
As Rich notes below, Romney’s a formidably weak frontrunner, and one can only hope that Maggie is right that Santorum and Gingrich have been keeping their powder dry for South Carolina. Because I just don’t see any evidence that either Mitt or Team Romney will be able to go toe-to-toe with Barry & Co. in the fall. The Dems have already telegraphed a good deal of their playbook — they’ll paint him as a nervous, grinning, stuttering, heartless capitalist who’s also a “weird” social-issues nut — and hope to scare the hell out of the electorate, which by now has grown used to the dull pain of the Obama administration.
Thus George Stephanopoulos’ bizarre fixation on Saturday with the absurd non-issue of whether the states can ban contraception. Romney was right to call the question “silly” and treat it with the incredulous contempt it deserved.
But expect more of this as the campaign progresses, as the Democratic media complex desperately tries to change the subject from Obama’s failed stewardship to those nutty Christian moralizers on the right.
Will the Republicans let them get away with it? Or will they heed Brazile’s words and make sure they field their toughest candidate in November? Because this race is not to the swift, but the strong.