Ross Douthat, making a very convincing case that, yes, of available options, Mitt Romney absolutely was the strongest pick the GOP could have made last spring -- losing campaign and all.
If you think Rush Limbaugh’s “slut” sneer and Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments cost Republicans this year, imagine how the press would have covered the “war on women” debate if Santorum — who actually did speak out against birth control in the primary campaign — had been the top of the Republican ticket.
If you think it was too easy for Obama to define Romney with a blizzard of negative ads over the summer, imagine how much material a Gingrich candidacy would have given the White House’s admakers to work with. If you think that Romney suffered from being perceived as too much like George W. Bush Part II, imagine if the Republican candidate in 2012 had been a yet more tongue-tied and more right-wing Texan governor whose debate performances made Obama’s Denver sleepwalk look Ciceronian.
“How much worse could it get?” Last asks. In the electoral college, maybe not that much worse. But in the popular vote? There I hardly think Romney was scraping bottom. His 48 percent of the vote wasn’t even close to the floor for Republican candidates this cycle:
So, what's the most predictable thing in the world (besides Nicholas Sparks, of course) -- Rick Santorum throwing his sweater vest into the ring in 2016 and running on the premise that the GOP erred by nominating a squishy moderate and would've won if they'd gone with their heart and backed Santorum.
His future success will largely depend on whether voters buy that interpretation.