Mitt vs Newt: Has The GOP Already Lost?

Charles Krauthammer has about as honest a column as can be expected from a Republican partisan at this point in time. It's not pretty, even though the economic fundamentals should make this an election tilted strongly toward the opposition. Money quote:

Two ideologically problematic finalists: One is a man of center-right temperament who has of late adopted a conservative agenda. The other is a man more conservative by nature but possessed of an unbounded need for grand display that has already led him to unconservative places even he is at a loss to explain, and that as president would leave him in constant search of the out-of-box experience — the confoundedly brilliant Nixon-to-China flipperoo regarding his fancy of the day, be it health care, taxes, energy, foreign policy, whatever.

Scott Johnson vents:

Just when the logic of a Romney candidacy was about to impress itself on me, Romney consented to an interview with Bret Baier on Fox News this week. Like Nixon in 1968, Romney has chosen to avoid these kinds of appearances. I think you can see why in this interview. It is an unimpressive performance. Baier conducts himself in a perfectly professional manner. When challenged with predictable questions by Baier, Romney is by turns discombobulated and even petulant (great line: “We’re going to have to be better informed about my views on issues”) before he recovers his footing toward the end of the interview.

The interview was not a disaster in any objective sense. It was not Palin-Couric. Romney knows his shit. But what came through in the interview, as it pulled apart Romney's chameleon-like record, was that this really is a man without a core. As I have said before, he makes plastic look real. He looks and sounds like some actor who can play the part of president in a Hollywood thriller, but isn't a major role. While Reagan inhabited the role of president, Romney just isn't a good enough actor. You watch that interview and think: how can I trust anything this gelled-hair, crinkly-eyed hologram says?

This is not really ideological. It's personal. And that matters in a presidential candidate. Romney looks so studiedly presidential he's coming out the other side as un-presidential. And on the personal front, Gingrich is even worse. How could such a man unite the country in a major economic or national security crisis? Would you want him or no-drama-Obama in that moment?

I have to say at this point, I'm beginning to wonder if the GOP hasn't already thrown this election. That isn't to say it cannot be won; of course it can (and might even by a hefty margin if we enter another downward spiral). But if Obama is re-elected, and the sequestration defense cuts are enforced and the Bush tax cuts expire, and the ACA becomes irreversible … how will the GOP's strategy over the last three years look like in retrospect?