Yes, I'm going there. Yes, I'm questioning the timing of this:
... On Tuesday at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, the Romneys are launching the Ann Romney Center for Neurological Diseases, a research facility that will focus on finding cures and new treatments for Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease (known as ALS), Parkinson’s disease and brain tumors.I understand that multiple sclerosis is a great burden to Ann Romney, even though she's able to afford the best care and therapies. I also recognize that the establishment of this center could help bring about significant breakthroughs in the treatment of terrible illnesses.
Fresh off a presidential effort that raised nearly a billion dollars, Ann Romney hopes to raise $50 million to lay the groundwork for the center’s research into the five diseases that affect about 50 million people in the U.S.
Romney describes the center as her answer to the scores of MS patients who approached her on the campaign trail, desperate for advice and guidance from a fellow MS patient....
But I'd like the timing of this announcement to generate at least a tiny fraction of the skepticism occasioned by the timing of Chelsea Clinton's pregnancy. Because while it's true that this is an act of generosity, it's also true that the Romneys are just loving this little comeback tour they're on, and bringing a veneer of high-mindedness to a lot of down-and-dirty campaigning. I happen to think that Mitt Romney, despite the decent-guy act, is the angriest, most vengeance-minded presidential loser since Nixon lost to Kennedy, and yes, I'm ranking him ahead of John McCain, whose emotional excesses seem much more free-floating and much less specifically targeted. McCain wants war with President Obama, Democrats, ISIS, Iran -- whaddaya got? Mitt Romney, on the other hands, wants a rematch with Obama. No, that's not right -- he wants to win his one contest with Obama retroactively. In the public's mind, he wants the results of the 2012 election overturned.
Beating Obama by proxy in this year's midterms, beating him in polls, and possibly beating his likely successor in polls -- a new Des Moines Register survey says Romney would top Hillary in Iowa by 1 point -- this is what Romney wants. The press has been saying for a year now that Romney wants to play "kingmaker," and, yes, I think he very much wants to get Republicans elected, but the king he wants to make is himself. He wants to be widely regarded as the guy who should be president. If he attains that, he probably has pretty much everything he ever wanted out of the presidency without having any of the job's burdens. He has his due.
And the Beltway press is absolutely on his side.
Here's the media lovingly retransmitting his lame joke about Obama at an Iowa rally for extremist Senate candidate Joni Ernst, a gag about Obama, Phil Mickelson, and Andre Agassi that's been floating around the Internet for at least three years (the golfer used to be Tiger Woods), and that sounds as if it started life as a kneeslapper about LBJ, Arnold Palmer, and Rod Laver. (Fun fact: one source for the joke is a site called Stuff Old Guys Like. Oh, and here's a version set in the Philippines.)
And here, in The Washington Post, is the 83,647th breathless is-he-running? story about Romney.
Officially, Mitt Romney returned to Iowa, the quadrennial presidential proving ground, to give a boost to Joni Ernst. But at a closed-door breakfast fundraiser here Monday, the first question from a donor had nothing to do with Ernst’s Senate campaign.On the other hand, here's Ann Romney in the L.A. Times story about the new neurology center:
"When you get elected to the Senate, your job should be to convince Mitt Romney to run for president again," a donor told Ernst, according to several attendees. The Republican candidate said she would, while Romney laughed.
When Romney and Ernst gathered in a West Des Moines boardroom with about 40 agriculture executives Sunday night, one businessman after another pleaded with Romney to give the White House another shot.
And at a rally for Ernst in Cedar Rapids on Monday, the state legislator who introduced Romney said, "If his address was 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I would sleep a lot better." After Romney and Ernst finished speaking, some activists chanted, "Run, Mitt, run!" ...
On another matter that has been the subject of much political babbling lately -- a potential third run for president by her husband -- Ann Romney was happy to wave off the possibility.But apparently not being a candidate just makes running like a candidate seem more high-minded for Mitt. He's not a grubby politiian -- he's a gray eminence!
"Done," she said. "Completely. Not only Mitt and I are done, but the kids are done," she said, referring to her five sons. "Done. Done. Done."
It's often said that Republicans can't really make a comeback at the presidential level until they're perceived as standing for something, not just against Democrats. That's a lot of noble-sounding nonsense. All they have to do is find an appealing candidate -- and right now they think they have one: the last guy. He's freed from the burden of actually having to run on the Republican agenda, and the party is doing a better job of trying to manufacture consent by getting the press to write "we all like Romney now" stories, which make casual observers think liking Romney is now A Thing. There's no Democratic effort to define Romney, as there was in 2012, so he's been allowed to become the gracious, above-the-fray shadow president, with Ann, now cutting ribbons on a medical facility and thus making a great show of generosity, as the noble shadow First Lady.
And if the 2016 election were held today, with Mitt and Hillary as the candidates, I honestly think that Romney would win the vote of the press corps, or at least its white males. I'm increasingly convinced that 2016 is going to be a rerun of 2000, with Hillary being treated by the media as the unloved, mocked Al Gore. The only problem is that the boys on the bus need a Republican to root for. I think they'd be delighted if it were Mitt.