- - Thursday, February 20, 2014

We’ve seen him everywhere lately. Interviews about President Obama, the economy, Hillary Clinton and the Olympics. Almost every reporter asks him if he’s going to run for president again in 2016. Mitt Romney’s answer is emphatic and clear: No. Sometimes it’s no, no, no, no, no!

Then there’s the “Mitt” documentary from Netflix. It’s great to watch, and offers up the biggest lesson about the debacle of the 2012 campaign: Don’t let the Republican National Committee machine run things.

In that film, we see the truly personal side of a great and decent family that never had a chance because of monstrous mismanagement by stunningly inept Republican “insiders.”

The problem was less Mitt than it was a machine filled with buffoons such as Karl Rove, who think they know it all, while losing elections and holding the American people in as much contempt as the Democrats.

Even among my rather diverse circle of friends (liberals, conservatives, libertarians, Christians, pagans and even an actor or two) in the People’s Republic of Los Angeles, there’s an interesting reaction to the Romney of 2014, a sort of regretful melancholy.

I imagine it’s the sadness you’d get from a guy who was talked into buying a Gremlin watching a BMW go by that he had passed up.

Everyone makes mistakes. The issue is, how do we correct them? The Rudolph W. Giuliani comeback is a prime example: He became mayor of New York only after New Yorkers realized the disastrous mistake they made with David Dinkins four years earlier.

As an independent conservative, I was thrilled with the 2010 Tea Party midterm extravaganza, and I remind people quite often how Ted Cruz’s victory, aided in great part by Sarah Palin, was the only serious GOP victory in 2012.

While Mr. Romney was not my first choice, I voted for him (and Mrs. Romney) and meant it.

Even though I knew he was imperfect and I would disagree with him on certain issues, I voted knowing we would have a couple in the White House who embodied the Founders’ expectation of virtue and also had the experience required to govern.

All of us want to be proud of the people who run this country. When you’re the laughingstock of the world, pride takes a holiday.

It’s not hard to imagine that the 4 million Republican voters who came out for McCain-Palin in 2008 but sat out Romney-Ryan in 2012 may also have some regrets.

With our genuine concerns about the actual conservatism of today’s entrenched politicians, it’s vital to realize any Republican would have been better than the reckless liberals now in charge.

There remain arguments about why Mr. Romney wasn’t the best candidate, or even whether he’s a genuine conservative. I’ve made some of those arguments myself, but here’s what I can tell you now, just off the top of my head.

This list explains why so many people are getting a bit dreamy about what might have been:

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