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This is the look of a defeated man. He looks old and embattled, much as Nixon looked in the last days of his presidency.

In an ironic twist, Mitt Willard Romney will know the exact moment when his tenuous hold on the possibility of winning slipped forever more from his fingertips and fell into the cesspool that he had dug for himself. Ironic because his father George Romney also know the exact moment when his White House opportunity flew away–when he uttered the famous words, “I was brainwashed.”

Saying that, the campaigns will go on, and Romney will attempt to get “beyond” this fiasco he and he alone created. He will continue to justify it, as so far he has, and make himself look more ridiculous and more unfit for ANY high office. He proves that he does not learn from his mistakes, cannot accept making one, cannot apologize. While I realize that saying that would doom his campaign, it is already doomed as far as most are concerned. All he has left is the opportunity to reclaim his dignity.

The following is not my assessment. I leave that to the smarter heads. Mr. Romney has backed himself into a corner and there are few options left. Since the campaign will continue, if he wishes to even “be in the game” he is left with these three choices:

  • Do something really big. Some might argue that yesterday was that “big” thing, but all that was was a big blunder. Making outrageous statements is not what is meant here. It refers rather to announcing a major policy change. Something regarding the economy and his plan, something major regarding health care. It would be a huge risk in the hopes of attracting the middle and disaffected Democrats. It would have to be something that sounded deeply from the heart, reached after long prayer and contemplation–doing it because it is right and not popular, especially with his base.

It is unlikely that Romney can bring himself to do this. His entire history in the campaign is to refuse to back down from obvious mistakes, rather he “doubles down” as it were, and digs his hole even deeper. It should be remembered that Bain’s success was not built on taking overt risk so much as it was in hedging the bets so thoroughly that whether the “in trouble” company succeeded or fail, Bain took its profits. Risk is not something that Romney likes apparently. So expecting Willard to change his position in a dramatic way based on some “moral awakening” is unlikely. Admitting he was wrong is not in his bag of tools.

  • Hope that some major event will so upset the apple cart that he wins by default. This might come in the form of a major terrorist attack on American soil. It might be a major meltdown in Europe and a collapse of the Euro. It would have to be a major turn of events that people would fairly or unfairly lay at the feet of the President and cause the middle to think that a fresh new start is appropriate.

No one of course can predict these sort of things. Even the meltdown of Wall Street banks at the end of Bush’s term should have favored the sage elder statesman, John McCain. Instead, based on his “Lehman” moment, he handed the election quite literally to Mr. Obama. It is also unclear whether America would place the “fault” at the feet of the President. Are we savvy enough to realize that America cannot control the economic policies of Greece or Spain or Ireland? I spent a few years as a child hoping every Christmas morning to find a pony in the garage. That never happened. It is obviously not to Mr. Romney’s advantage to wait for what may never happen, and frankly what is historically not likely to happen.

  • Mr. Obama makes a major mistake that tips the balance in favor of Mr. Romney. This would amount to something along the lines of Mr. Romney’s major error of yesterday, suggesting that the President is so out-of-touch, so insensitive, and so basically knowledgeable about event or issue that he cannot be trusted to continue in his role as President. It would suggest that at least some of the charges against him by the Right are true.

The likelihood of this happening is nearly as bad as the second option. When the candidate finds him or herself ahead in polling that seems significant, the tendency is to “make no waves.” In other words, the President has no need to risk anything now. He is leading and needs only to hunker down, make no mistakes. His campaign will be inclined to become more conservative, not more daring. Furthermore, President Obama is not noted for ill-considered actions or remarks. He seems for all the world as a man who has thought through the implications and ramifications of his words before he utters them. He generally chooses his words most carefully.

It is based on this analysis, that I find that Mr. Romney is screwed. A screwing of his own making no doubt. Many in his party will engage in the usual “I told you so” thinking–he was never authentically conservative–they will say. And they may really be right. Mr. Romney strikes us, in the end, a man who feels entitled to be President and that is about as deep as it gets for him. Surely in the last couple of days, he has shown us that he has not thought much at all about the world. We find him strangely soulless and withdrawn from human emotion. We more than ever, simply find him shockingly unfit.

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