Booman Tribune ~ A Progressive Community: This is Not Excellent News for Romney: People and pundits on the right tell themselves so many lies that it is often difficult to know if they are deceiving themselves or simply trying to deceive the rest of us. Now, I am willing to concede one thing from Hugh Hewitt's analysis…. If Mitt Romney is the eventual Republican nominee, he will get some benefits out of having to fight for it. Barack Obama had something like 19 debates with Hillary Clinton. He got better as he went along…. The same could be true for Romney. But I think there are downsides that outweigh the upsides for Romney…. Mitt Romney is not the anti-Establishment choice. He is playing the role of Hillary Clinton. He's playing it badly, and without the fervent base of support she enjoyed, but he's the candidate that most elected Republicans and big donors want on the top of the ballot. In this cycle, Obamacare is what Iraq was in the last cycle. Romney was for it before he was against it, putting him in a position similar to Kerry and Clinton.
The problem is that Romney is distorting himself in order to compensate for his past sins and in an effort to win the trust of conservatives. The more he has to distort himself and the longer he has to go on distorting himself, the less credibility he has and the harder it is for him to pivot back to the middle.
Obama didn't need to do any of that…. When Obama emerged as the nominee of the party, he didn't have to move dramatically from the way he had been campaigning all along. That's why the prolonged campaign ultimately did him more good than harm.
Romney… has already abandoned almost every moderate or sane position he ever held, and he's gained a reputation as a flip-flopper as a result. This makes it much harder for him the flip back to the middle without exacerbating his reputation for lacking any principles. But the more time he has to do it, the most subtle and gradual he can be about it. At a minimum, losing South Carolina has lost him valuable time.
But I think his problem is more severe than that. If he continues to campaign as he has been, he's going to lose the nomination…. [I]t's not clear that Romney can change his campaign in a way that will be successful, but if he does, he will drive up his unfavorables to Newt-like levels with the general electorate.
So, all in all, I believe Gingrich's win in South Carolina is very bad news for Mitt Romney and for the Republican Party. You can try to make some lemonade out of it, and there could be some benefits, but the net result is unlikely to be anything less than disastrous.
Let me say that the damage likely to be done by a President Gingrich means that Gingrich's win in South Carolina is very bad news for the country as well.