Just the other day, I was thinking that Rick Perry might have been the best thing that ever happened to Mitt Romney. Since Perry’s entry into the GOP presidential race, Romney’s actually gotten a chance to show some fire. Since none of the other GOPers would touch him — remember Tim Pawlenty? — Romney just kinda stood there, looking like paraffin. But Perry, who likes to attack, has given Romney a chance to look, of all things, presidential and consistent.
But then came the polls: As expected, Perry’s support crumbled after his immigrant kids stand and all the debate stumbling. But guess what? All that early Perry fever bypassed Romney and seems to have been funneled straight to pizza mogul Herman Cain. Romney remains at about 20 to 25 percent, the same — the most — that he’s ever had.
What that means is that there will, indeed, be no Mittenmania in this presidential race. Those who eventually break his way — and they will — will do so precisely because of his milquetoasty manner. And because they hate Barack Obama.
Think about it: Perry’s out there orbiting the earth in spurs but he’s the only possible alternative to Romney. The rest of the gang, no matter how they rise and fall in the polls in the next year, have neither the organization, the funds nor the possibility of raising the funds to overtake Perry and Romney.
And they’re all alienating to one degree or another: Rick Santorum’s a little too obsessed with how gays do it, Herman Cain’s thinks if you’re not rich you’re an idiot, Ron Paul’s wacko and Bachman’s even wackier. Nobody even thinks Jon Huntsman’s actually a Republican. But Romney? Meh … (Plus, given his many positions on everything, you can always console yourself by thinking the real Romney lies in those kinder, gentler pre-Tea Party positions ... )
Which means that Romney remains the most dangerous of the GOP contenders against Obama because he might actually beat him.
Why? Because the Republican Party, ultimately, doesn’t really care who its standard bearer is. The only real goal is to unseat Obama, to eject him all the way to the moon. And they will put their all into whomever they nominate. And while all the other contenders may alienate angry Democrats and indies, Romney doesn’t elicit that kind of response.
So while Obama would eat Perry alive in a debate, Romney can toe to toe him. Perry may swagger and bluster, pray publicly and say outrageous and stupid things that offend left and right, but Mitt is the kind of guy you can take anywhere. He knows how to behave. He can, in fact, just blend into the woodwork if necessary.
Which means, fellow progressives, that the only way to avoid Mittens is by voting in the GOP primary — for Perry.