It is unfair to pick on a year, but we have a broken political system that is biased towards short term thinking. Rumors that Mitt Romney will attempt a third presidential campaign are rather humorous. Yes, he trounces names in some straw polls, but most of that is name recognition and residue of Chris Christie getting snipered over a bridge. No bridge media hyperventilating and Christie would be ahead of everyone by a mile. Why do it? Why set up for possible failure? If it's a "come on people, do over, I was right, just look at tapes from 2012", that does not work now. We do not have a voter pool of elastic thinkers that could possibly think about the guy taking the job. It's tribal. I feel bad for Romney. He seems like a decent guy, and one obviously sharp and successful. Whenever I hear Romney speak, I think, "There's the perfect '96 Candidate".
The 1996 election was a nice one. No active wars on the front pages. No giant war commitments anywhere we had to unwind. The Cold War was over. Heck, the Russians even had a reformer in charge who was helping bring MTV, McDonald's and Pepsi to Russia. We had a growing economy. Some of the moral degeneracy had slowed a tiny bit because of the HIV-AIDS scare. The budget gap was closing and on track for a surplus the next year. The president, a Democrat, had signed a law from a Republican Congress that defended marriage for straights. The president, a Democrat, had signed a law from a Republican Congress to get tough with the border. Man, OJ's trial starts up, but heck, that looks pretty damn open and shut. He'll be in jail, everyone can see he did it. What a sunshine time? This is an election for Romney. That time frame and those stakes are tailor made for a well spoken, pro-business and ideologically flexible candidate. After all, Clinton is not too far removed from Romney from a political standpoint.
The problem of viewing Romney as a '96 candidate and the idea of an election being an easier one is our American democratic mindset. Here's 1996 from another perspective. There are no hot wars going on, but America is getting dragged into police actions with the UN. The Cold War is over, but why are we going back on our pledge not to advance NATO closer to Russia's new borders? America is propping up Yeltsin in Russia so that the US Treasury, Harvard, Soros and Wall Street can loot Russia with the help of some sharp insiders that that Western nexus trusts. This could all lead to a massive backlash from a nuclear armed nation that could hurt is in the far future. The economy is growing and budget gap is closing but how much is due to the expansion of financial sector debt and capital gains vs. productive economy growth? Greenspan just mentioned this irrational exuberance, which may become a problem. There is no security at the border, and illegal immigration is on the rise. OJ's a black millionaire going on trial in a location not in his upscale zip code but a different zip code with a far more black population that just had multiple race riots a few years earlier. Did we really fix the race problem? HIV-AIDS scared some people, and the DOMA says marriage is one man and one woman, but the Supreme Court just said you can't stop someone from making laws that protect the rights of gays, and the NY Times likes the idea of gay marriage???? Have you seen tv? MTV has a gay character on every Real World, sex positivism is rolling around and I hear rumors about Ellen DeGeneres.
I'll travel back in time and fix Romney's political career. "Remain a Michigan resident", is all I will say. If a Michigan resident, he can run as a Republican for governor in 2002 who is far more conservative than candidate Romney was in 2002 in Massachusetts. He would have won, too. All his money, his polished speaking, his corporate connections, and the GOP candidate who lost was named Dick Posthumus (Dead Dick). As a two term governor with a more conservative speaking record, he isn't flip-flop Mitt with Romneycare baggage in 2008. How good does he look in debates in 2008 versus neophyte Obama. Throw in a financial crisis, and who do people trust the car keys with? It is 2015, so we'd be discussing President Clinton's first two years in office, but a Michigan Romney is a far more base pleasing Romney.
The world is a tough place. Even to provide the sunshine times, hard decisions and sacrifice must be made presently or in anticipation of the future. Our system is gear to much on the moment because we need to know who is winning and who just won. Our political system now just talks about who just won and who may win next, with actual legislation a sideshow that can be used for individual grandstanding for later elections. It is unfair to think of Romney as a '96 Candidate because there should not be '96 Candidates. Although the dumb play is to have Romney running as a do-over because he was right, but the GOP failing to clear the field, which hurts him, so maybe this is real. People thought Al Gore might run in 2004, but he did not. His endorsement of Obama over Clinton in 2008 came at the crucial June stage when the superdelegates were deciding the nomination. You only get one real shot.
Romney's real role is most likely stalking horse and controller of a giant nexus of donors. Think of that 20% of voter support and the donor network behind him that Romney could bequeath to a new man. A fresh face to be used by the same donor network that might need someone less establishment to trick, sorry, please the red meat voters. It is quite obvious that the anti-Bush wing of the party is going to try to get out ahead of the Bush donor juggernaut. Besides the freshness test that both Romney and Jeb barely pass, they are tied to too many policies that are off-putting to too many pieces of their tribe's coalition. Unlike the left, they do not have a straight, white male boogeyman to unite the hatred and create solidarity for the coalition of victims that hate each other. Romney is a figure who came up through the system too late, and we have a system that is set for too short of a time frame and run by psychopaths too arrogant for our collective good. The world is far too serious of a business to leave it to a system and spectacle like an American presidential election.