Fred Barnes @ The Weekly Standard:
Republicans never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. In 2010, they failed to win the Senate when it was theirs for the taking. Now they’ve lost the White House to President Obama, despite his poor record and the likelihood things won’t get any better in his second term. And they failed again to capture the Senate, though a takeover was initially thought to be a cinch.
The result was a status quo election, with Democrats entrenched in White House and Senate and Republicans firmly in control of the House. As it turned out, the election wasn’t historic at all, except that Barack Obama, the first African American president, became the first to be reelected.
The numbers and the faces in Washington have barely changed at all. We’re stuck with them. As hard as Republicans tried, they were unable to upset the balance of political forces.
What’s their problem? In Senate races, it’s bad candidates: old hacks (Wisconsin), young hacks (Florida), youngsters (Ohio), Tea Party types who can’t talk about abortion sensibly (Missouri, Indiana), retreads (Virginia), lousy campaigners (North Dakota) and Washington veterans (Michigan). Losers all.
And those are just the Senate contests decided yesterday. In 2010, it was similar. Republicans threw away two of their best chances to gain seats, choosing pathetically incapable candidates in Nevada and Delaware. It’s as if they have a political death wish.
Losing the presidential contest to Obama was different. Mitt Romney was the best possible candidate among the Republicans who ran for the presidential nomination. He had baggage from his days as a corporate turnaround artist and liberal Republican governor. Yet he actually seemed presidential.
However, there was huge hole in the GOP field. The entire younger generation of smart, attractive Republicans didn’t run: Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Pat Toomey. They were missed. Several of them might have been stronger presidential candidates than Romney. No doubt some or all of them will run in 2016.
They represent the Republican future in the best possible way. They are the heirs of Ronald Reagan and advocates of a reform conservatism that is more relevant than ever, given the country’s fiscal mess and foreign policy troubles.
No doubt the media will insist that Republicans must change, must sprint to the center, must embrace social liberalism, must accept that America is destined to play a less dominant role in the world. All that is hogwash, which is why Republicans are likely to reject it. Their ideology is not a problem.