Today E.J. Dionne thoughtfully feeds my habitual and rather unseemly need for the colossal understatement: "[T]he debate is a strategic conundrum for Romney."
Yes. As in, "Hmmmm, methinks I'm fucked here, fucked there, fucked everywhere." Or at least that's pretty much how Field Marshal Paulus accurately put his "strategic conundrum" of Stalingrad--as something less of a conundrum than a wholesome, well-advised surrender.
Which is, ironically enough, Mitt Romney's only hope. To win the debate, he must thrust his arms upward before Reason's mobilized forces, he must concede the fatal weaknesses of his accumulated position, he must confess that all is lost--that the Republican Party has been reduced to the scattered tatterdemalions of lily-white bigots, delusional Austrian Economics apparitions, medievalist science-deniers, and ungodly God-thumpers.
There are, of course--and here I'm trying my own hand at colossal understatement--more subtle, less strident ways of putting it. The shortest: "Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to resurrect the party of Eisenhower--the party that feared not the socioeconomic advances of the New Deal, or the inherent justice of worker unionization, or the nation's need for a moderate Supreme Court, or the virtues of military restraint."
That's what Romney could say, but won't. Because Romney's a loser. But I can almost guarantee you that that's what a conservative winner will be saying by 2016 or 2020--because that's the only, colossally liberating way a conservative can ever again win the White House.