Fineman: Burying Mitt

Here's my formidable NEWSWEEK colleague Howard Fineman with the Romney postmortem. In case you're wondering, I agree with his take. If Romney had stayed true to himself from the start, I think he would've been a more compelling candidate. Nobody blinks when you reinvent a business; but people aren't products, and in politics, unlike commerce, authenticity counts. Would 'the real Mitt' have won? Who knows. But I do suspect that he would've been less disagreeable than McCain or Giuliani among "true conservatives." And in this scrappy, sloppy race, that might've been enough.

Here lieth the campaign of Mitt Romney, victim of the mistaken belief that the only way to succeed in national Republican politics was to turn yourself into something you are not. Or maybe the campaign revealed what his closest friends never imaged him to be. They thought he was a decent classy guy. But maybe he really is a soulless throat-cutter who would do and say anything to win.

I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he was a good fellow who didn't know enough about national politics and listened to people who gave him bad, cynical advice.

Sen. John McCain was in a good position before; now it's hard to imagine that he won't wrap up the nomination in the next week or two. His lone remaining serious opponent, Mike Huckabee, has exceeded expectations, but expecting him to be able to unhorse McCain is perhaps expecting too much.

I have covered a lot of presidential campaigns, and I can't think of one that so lost its way-so expensively-as that of the former governor of Massachusetts. A board room and business favorite, a man with a Midas managerial touch, he was widely admired and even beloved. But he was a Republican of an old moderate school-that of his own father-and, like George W. Bush, Romney the Younger decided that he had to jettison all that he was to become something that he was not.

And so it was that this square peg spent perhaps $80 million-including at least $30 million of his own money-trying to pound himself into a round hole. It didn't work. The irony of his failed campaign: if he had just stuck to selling his managerial mettle, he might well have won the nomination, given the way the country's economic anxieties have become voters' number one concern.

Read the rest here.