Mitt Romney and his allies are not very pleased with media magnate Rupert Murdoch, who this week said out loud what most political pros have been stewing about for years: Romney was a "terrible candidate."
The Wall Street Journal, part of Murdoch's News Corporation, called his campaign a "calamity," which seems to me to be about right, but seemed to Romney's allies both unfair and inaccurate.
Ron Kaufman, a longtime Romney ally, went so far as to label Murdoch politically "tone deaf" and compared his statements to outbursts by the far more theatrical Donald Trump, telling The New York Times that "it's like trying to make sense of what Trump does."
Full disclosure: I've been a contributor to Fox News for many years. But it's not because I agree with the political views of Murdoch or Fox News Chief Roger Ailes. Quite the contrary. I once told Roger that he and I probably disagree about everything except our love for our country, our commitment to our children, and our belief in loyalty — what matters most.
I'm a Democrat. I'm a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton and have been for decades. I would love to see the Republicans nominate Romney again and watch Hillary clean his clock. But really, is Romney the best the Republicans can do?
From all I know, Romney is a fine man, a dedicated husband and father, and an extremely successful businessman. But being a fine man does not make you a fine candidate. Success in politics requires more than that.
It requires the ability to communicate effectively with people who don't have friends who own NASCAR teams — one of Romney's famous misstatements.
It requires the ability to address complex issues in ways that are not only consistent (Romney was well known for his total flip-flops on abortion and gay rights issues), but also sensible, something Romney's proposed answer to the immigration issue — "self-deportation" — was definitely not.
John Kennedy made a failed attempt to get on the ticket in 1956 before winning the top spot in 1960. Ronald Reagan was defeated by Gerald Ford the first time he sought the nomination of his party, but of course came back to get elected in 1980. George Bush (the senior) lost to Reagan in the 1980 nominating contest, but came back in 1988 to serve two terms.
Running for president is a lot harder than it looks, and many candidates have a tough time of it in their first go-round (think Al Gore in 1988). But Romney hasn't had just one chance. If he runs again, it will be his third effort at the top spot. If the first run is the rehearsal for the big show, and then you fall flat in the big show, what is it that makes you more qualified or more electable the third time around? Write to me and tell me if I'm wrong, but I'm having a hard time thinking of any candidate, at least in modern times, who succeeded on the third go-round.
Where does that leave the race for president? With two candidates who enjoy widespread name recognition — Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush — and a slew of actual or potential candidates whose biggest problem is not that no one has heard of them, but that when they do, they will be seen as hard-core ideologues (who tend to do well in primaries but not so well in general elections).
It was only after losing in 1980,1984, and 1988 that Democrats, even the old ideologues like me, were willing to nominate a self-described moderate from Arkansas. Maybe the Republicans' problem is that they just haven't lost enough national elections to reexamine their own positions.
So who will be our candidates on Election Day in 2016? Two years is a lifetime in politics. Everything can change. But if I had to guess today, I'd say we may well be faced with a historic run between the wife of one president and the son and brother of another. Clinton versus Bush. Kind of makes me feel young again.
Susan Estrich is a best-selling author whose writings have appeared in newspapers such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post. Read more reports from Susan Estrich — Click Here Now.