Mitt Romney now joins the long list of the kinds of presidential candidates favored by the Republican establishment— nice, moderate losers, people with no coherently articulated vision, despite how many ad hoc talking points they may have.
The list of Republican presidential candidates like this goes back at least as far as 1948, when Thomas E. Dewey ran against President Harry Truman. Dewey spoke in lofty generalities while Truman spoke in hard-hitting specifics. Since then, there have been many re-runs of this same scenario, featuring losing Republican presidential candidates John McCain, Bob Dole, Gerald Ford and, when he ran for reelection, George H.W. Bush.
Bush 41 first succeeded when he ran for election as if he were another Ronald Reagan ("Read my lips, no new taxes"), but then lost when he ran for reelection as himself— "kinder and gentler," disdainful of "the vision thing" and looking at his watch during a debate, when he should have been counter-attacking against the foolish things being said.
This year, Barack Obama had the hard-hitting specifics— such as ending "tax cuts for the rich" who should pay "their fair share," government "investing" in "the industries of the future" and the like. He had a coherent vision, however warped.
Most of Obama's arguments were rotten, if you bothered to put them under scrutiny. But someone once said that it is amazing how long the rotten can hold together, if you don't handle it roughly.
Any number of conservative commentators, both in the print media and on talk radio, examined and exposed the fraudulence of Obama's "tax cuts for the rich" argument. But did you ever hear Mitt Romney bother to explain the specifics which exposed the flaws in Obama's argument?
On election night, the rotten held together because Mitt Romney had not handled it roughly with specifics. Romney was too nice to handle Obama's absurdities roughly. He definitely out-niced Obama— as John McCain had out-niced Obama in 2008, and as Dewey out-niced Truman back in 1948. And these Republicans all lost.
In this year's first presidential debate, Obama out-niced Romney. But, when he lost out doing that, he then reversed himself, became the attacker, and ultimately the winner on election night, despite a track record that should have buried him in a landslide.
When you look at this as a horse race, there is no question that the Republicans deserved to lose. But the stakes for this great nation, at this crucial juncture in its history and in the history of the world, are far too momentous to look at this election as just a contest between two candidates or two political parties.
Quite aside from the immediate effects of particular policies, Barack Obama has repeatedly circumvented the laws, including the Constitution of the United States, in ways and on a scale that pushes this nation in the direction of arbitrary one-man rule.
Now that Obama will be in a position to appoint Supreme Court justices who can rubber stamp his evasions of the law and usurpations of power, this country may be unrecognizable in a few years as the America that once led the world in freedom, as well as in many other things.
Barack Obama's boast, on the eve of the election of 2008— "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America"— can now be carried out, without fear of ever having to face the voters again.
This "transforming" project extends far beyond fundamental internal institutions, or even the polarization and corruption of the people themselves, with goodies handed out in exchange for their surrendering their birthright of freedom.
Obama will now also have more "flexibility," as he told Russian President Medvedev, to transform the international order, where he has long shown that he thinks America has too much power and influence. A nuclear Iran can change that. Forever.
Have you noticed how many of our enemies in other countries have been rooting for Obama? You or your children may yet have reason to recall that as a bitter memory of a warning sign ignored on election day in 2012.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is www.tsowell.com. To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.