(In the spirit of Monty Python’s famous “Spanish Inquisition” sketch)
Scene: A typical Republican caucus in 2008. Three clean-cut men are off to the side. They all wear white shirts, black pants, and a thin black tie. One young man is carrying a booklet entitled Heritage-Romneycare Plan. Another holds a folder labeled “microtargetting data”. The oldest is silver-haired and handsome. His light blue eyes shine with focus; his entire body radiates confidence. They suddenly leap into the room from the right.
“Nobody expects the Romney Inquisition! Our main weapon is fiscal conservatism and an unexplained flip-flop on abortion!”
The crowd looks confused. The older man says “D’oh!” and all three slap their foreheads. They retreat quickly, stage right.
Scene: A Midwestern polling place in 2012. The same three men look on, dressed identically to four years ago. One young man has a flash drive labeled “Awesome PowerPoint”. The other has a deck of cards. The cover says “GOP Field Playing Cards. All Jokers.” The silver-haired man hasn’t aged a day, but he looks tired. They suddenly leap into the room from the center.
“Nobody expects the Romney Inquisition! Our two main weapons are business leadership, he’s not Obama, and a belief that 47 percent of Americans are thieving takers!”
The crowd looks hurt and befuddled. The older man says “D’oh!” and all three slap their foreheads. They retreat quickly, stage center.
Scene: A meeting of big money Republican donors, early 2015. The three men are here. The two young ones are wearing pink campaign buttons with sky-blue words: “Mitt Cares.” The silver-haired man still looks young and fit. His eyes, though, show hurt and lasting pain. They suddenly leap into the room from the left.
“Nobody expects the Romney Inquisition! Our three main weapons are helping the poor, supporting the middle class, a muscular foreign policy, and two decades of transparent, ungrounded ambition!”
The crowd yawns. The three men slump and slowly shuffle off, stage left.
— Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.