Frank Bruni thinks Mitt Romney's ineptitude is the system's fault:
How did someone so politically maladroit -- a cardboard cutout crossed with an Etch A Sketch -- get this far?Really, Frank?
We need to remind ourselves that the alternatives were Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann. And we need to ask whether we now have an electoral process so vacuous, vicious and just plain silly that most people in their right minds wouldn't go anywhere near it.
It chews up candidates and their families, spits them out and cackles with hyperpartisan glee all the while. Yes, those candidates volunteer for it, but still. The process doesn't necessarily serve some wondrous purpose of culling the herd and toughening the survivors, as the people invested in it -- including those of us in the news media -- often like to argue. Maybe it just sours them, befouls the atmosphere in which they operate and encourages voters to tune out.
Well, first of all, how much has the process really changed since 2008? And recall that that system attracted both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as flawed but serious candidates such as Joe Biden and Bill Richardson.
Beyond that, what's so new about a system that's "vacuous, vicious, and just plain silly," that "chews up" politicians, "spits them out and cackles"? How long have Democrats lived in such a system? Since the Swift-boating of John Kerry in 2004? Since the trashing of Al Gore's reputation in 2000? Since the very beginning of Clinton presidency? And yet, after those events, the Democratic Party hasn't presented America with a motley crew of clowns incessantly trying to out-demagogue and out-extreme one another.
No, sorry -- the system sucks, but it doesn't prevent people of some virtue, competence, and maturity from emerging -- the ridiculousness of the Republican Party is what does that. Four years from now, I predict the Democrats won't nominate a clown -- and I predict the Republicans will, even if the nominee isn't a clown now. He or she will have to become a clown to be chosen.