- - Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Washington establishment, ever a font of wisdom, has chosen its candidate. Mitt Romney’s victory in the Republican primaries, the insiders say, is a fait accompli. They claim he’s the most electable, the safe bet. Fine; let’s play along for the moment and consider what the Democrats have in store for him in the general election.

Recall that before Barack Obama trounced John McCain in 2008, Mr. McCain trounced Mr. Romney. But that’s not the worst of it. Mr. Romney’s Massachusetts electoral record hardly inspires confidence. He was elected initially in 2002 but couldn’t crack 50 percent of the popular vote. By the end of his first and only term, he had an anemic 34 percent approval rating and a 65 percent disapproval rating. Survey USA ranked Mr. Romney’s popularity 48th out of the 50 governors. With that, the supposedly electable Mitt Romney walked away rather than face the voters.

Can someone please explain why we should believe he’s suddenly so darn electable now?

The juggernaut of the Romney electability myth has been centered around polls showing that he leads President Obama in a theoretical head-to-head matchup. Of course, polls taken a year before an election are dubious at best - just ask Presidents Michael Dukakis, Rudolph W. Giuliani or Fred Thompson. But even those polls are betraying the Romney myth. The latest Rasmussen head-to-head polling shows Newt Gingrich ahead of Mr. Obama by two points and Mr. Romney trailing by six.

Consider how the Democrats will campaign against Mr. Romney. At the core of Mr. Obama’s failed presidency are the two intertwined, evil strands of DNA, Obamacare and Obamanomics, and with them the era of failed bailouts, high unemployment, government takeovers, crony payoffs and a downgraded America. Luckily for Mr. Obama, his two chief vulnerabilities - Obamacare and jobs - are the very ones most easily neutralized should he face Mr. Romney.

Obamneycare: Mr. Romney’s Massachusetts Romneycare is the forebear of Obamacare. Both are premised on the notion that the governing class may force its subjects into government-knows-best health-insurance servitude. Mr. Romney will continue in vain to deny the similarities between Obamacare and Romneycare, but there isn’t enough hair gel in the world to straighten that hairdo. Every minute spent trying is a lost minute.

Jobs: Mr. Romney, founding partner of Bain Capital, acknowledges laying off workers but has claimed that his business ventures have, on net, created jobs. I believe him. I also appreciate the economic benefit of “creative destruction.” But this matters little in campaigns. Perception becomes political reality. Mr. Obama’s counter for his own abysmal jobs record - 2 million lost - will be to showcase every person who was ever laid off by Mr. Romney. Recall the dagger in the heart of Mr. Romney’s 2008 campaign, Mike Huckabee’s simple statement, “I want to be a president who reminds you of the guy you work with, not the guy who laid you off.”

Furthermore, Mr. Romney, still unable to reach beyond 25 percent in GOP polls, may have hit his high-water mark. Consider how the selectively quiet mainstream media waged war on the conservative challengers, one by one, just as they began to pose threats to Mr. Romney, yet they have found little time for exposes on Romneycare or Bain Capital or - brace yourself - racism in the Mormon Church. Don’t worry, they will. Meanwhile, conservatives should ask themselves why they’re holding back now.

Even Mr. Romney’s supporters admit this. Washington icon Ann Coulter has curiously joined league with ultraliberal Obamaphiles Bill Maher and Warren Buffett, as well as the one-woman brain trust, Meghan McCain, to support Mr. Romney in the primaries. Miss Coulter claims the mainstream media are “terrified” of a Romney GOP nomination. Destroying her own argument, she predicts there will be an “explosion” of anti-Romney news stories that “have already been written, but they’re not scheduled for release until the day Romney wraps up the nomination.”

Miss Coulter doesn’t explain what motivates the media to shield the Romney campaign during the primaries. The answer is obvious: Mitt Romney is the media’s rope-a-dope re-election strategy for Barack Obama. They hope we’ll bite.

The media will turn on Mr. Romney faster and with greater vengeance than they did Mr. McCain in 2008, and when they do, his poll numbers - unlike those of his GOP rivals who already have faced their firestorms - will crater like Mr. McCain’s did. I would guess they’re already hunting down every family with a grievance against Bain Capital for breathless “How Mitt Romney destroyed our family” news stories. Unfair? Absolutely. Damaging? You decide.

If you still don’t believe the Obama-friendly media are hoping Mitt Romney wins the GOP nomination, Google “Mitt Romney money picture” and ask yourself why the media are - for now - holding back this unseemly photo. It shows the former Massachusetts governor beside his former business partners with cash pouring out of their pockets, lapels, shirt collars and even a few body orifices. Even unapologetic champions of the free market cringe with anticipation of the bonanza that photo provides for Team Obama, which already loves to blame the weak economy on “fat-cat” bankers. This photo will be Exhibit A.

The Washington establishment expects conservatives to fall in line and accept the unproven, if not mythical, dogma that Mitt Romney is the most electable Republican candidate. Why? Because it says so. However, the establishment’s track record of picking winners in the GOP primary is abysmal. Instead, Mr. Romney’s candidacy should be evaluated on its own merits, not on some insider, illusory promise of electability, particularly when Mr. Obama’s supporters are hopeful we take the bait.

Dr. Milton R. Wolf, a Washington Times columnist, is a board-certified diagnostic radiologist and President Obama’s cousin. He blogs at miltonwolf.com.