Peter Beinart goes down the reductionist's rathole:
[W]ithout the Bush legacy, Romney would be leading this race. His problem is that except among staunch conservatives, Bush has so hurt the GOP’s brand that Romney doesn’t look like the fresh economic fix-it man that Republicans want to portray him as.
Doubtless, the Bush legacy is doing Romney no favors. When political historians differ only on whether George W. Bush's tenure was as bad or worse than James Buchanan's, you know his legacy is going to require one long and remarkably creative rehabilitation. But to attribute Romney's relentless distress to the singular factor of inheritance--"[Romney's] problem is--is to ignore the GOP nominee's rather unique contributions to the art, science and bountiful history of political ineptitude.
For starters, there was his dubious decision even to run. Every other Republican hopeful of any real stature understood that 2012 would not be a Republican year--not for the presidency. Barack Obama is popular and the economy is straining toward recovery and the GOP base is crazy and getting crazier every day, thus straitjacketing any Republican nominee's maneuverability. Were Mitt Romney younger, he too would have waited for the next presidential go-around. He has age as an excuse, but nothing else.
So Romney started from an odds-on doomed disadvantage, to which he has added now countless blunders and gaffes while subtracting all human personality. He has also chosen to offer yet another Bush-like tax plan--one that's even more fiscally incomprehensible--while hiring a so-not-ready-for-primetime kid of a pol as his running mate who, oh, by the way, wants to shelve grandma's Medicare.
It's as though some sabotaging mole rolled out before Mitt a master plan of attack known back at Democratic HQ as "How Romney can lose and lose big," and Romney said, "Looks good, I'll take it." The man has done nothing right. Nothing. Nothing, that is, except squeeze through a hapless primary pack of other absolute losers, who were, as things were bound to turn out, actually the winners.