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Why America Needs Mitt... and Why They Don't.

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Why America Needs Mitt…

Now that the GOP nominee for president appears set, we can say it: Whew, that was close! America almost ended up with a divisive nominee who would have done the Republican Party no favors.

Ever since George W. Bush rode off to Dallas, the GOP has been rudderless. Mitt Romney is now their leader, and while he has his flaws, there are plenty of good things about nominating Romney instead of Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich.

There will be months to pick on Romney’s plans, but for now, be thankful that he’s at least familiar with Planet Reality — not, perhaps, as in how much a gallon of milk costs, but as in that getting the nation’s credit rating downgraded actually matters. Unlike so many in Congress, Romney has not been living in a land of make-believe, where if you close your eyes, facts and numbers just — poof! — vanish. Romney is running as a business guy who knows that numbers add up and facts, however inconvenient, cannot be ignored. That alone is a welcome break from our recent politics of denial.

Also, Romney is much less likely to make a big deal out of religion and stick his nose in our personal business. (Of course, his Super PAC surrogates could be another story.) Romney is working very hard to keep his Mormon religion out of the campaign, meaning 2012 will not be a fight over who is more down with Jesus.

So could we end up with a fact-based issue-fest between two mild and wonky guys? The fevered temperature of our politics might break if we get a contest of ideas instead of the usual Swift Boating and lamestream media gotcha back-and-forth. (Case in point: The Ann Romney versus Hilary Rosen dueling mommies flap.) America needs a grown-up conversation about the future; maybe — just maybe — the Romney/Obama race will give us one.

…And Why America May Not Want Him

While Mitt Romney offers middle-of-the-road Americans less to fear than the alternatives, he may also be the most tone-deaf pick ever to run for president.

The nation is still reeling from the economic collapse of 2008, when an unfettered Wall Street nearly took the Republic down with its greed. Now the GOP is offering up the most pro-Wall Street candidate since WilliaM McKinley. And in a time when the 99 percent is starting to wake up and wonder why the 1 percent is allowed to run roughshod, the GOP has chosen — massive disconnect alert! — a member of the 0.1 percent as its answer?

The usual right/left dynamic may not decide Romney’s fate; voters may judge him purely on the politics of rich and poor.

— TED S. McGREGOR JR., @INlANDERTMX

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