"The Republican brand is dying," Mike Murphy famously declared in Time magazine last month. Preparing to chat with Mike during the weekly podcast this morning, my instinctive, visceral response, I confess, would run along the lines of, "Oh, Mike, Mike. The Republican brand isn't dying. We just ran a lousy candidate."
My instinctive, visceral response, alas, would prove very badly in error.
In an article on National Review Online that I'm afraid is both terribly distressing and of really central importance, Ramesh Ponnuru:
The first thing conservatives should understand about the electoral catastrophe that just befell us — and it was a catastrophe — is that any explanation of it that centers on Mitt Romney is mistaken ....
Romney was not a drag on the Republican party. The Republican party was a drag on him. Aaron Blake pointed out in the Washington Post that Romney ran ahead of most of the Republican Senate candidates: He did better than Connie Mack in Florida, George Allen in Virginia, Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, Denny Rehberg in Montana, Jeff Flake in Arizona, Pete Hoekstra in Michigan, Deb Fischer in Nebraska, Rick Berg in North Dakota, Josh Mandel in Ohio, and of course Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana. In some cases Romney did a lot better. (He also did slightly better than Ted Cruz in Texas, a race Blake for some reason ignored.)
None of those candidates were as rich as Romney, and almost all of them had more consistently conservative records than he did. It didn’t help them win more votes.
I wish it weren't so -- Lord, do I -- but Mike and Ramesh can't both be wrong.