It's been a mixed week for Mitt Romney's campaign. On one hand, Romney won Iowa, but on the other, he was endorsed by John McCain.
Until the first actual votes were cast Tuesday night, it appeared as if some elements of the Republican Party were becoming the mirror image of a liberal mob.
The wild swings -- at least in the polls -- from one populist right-winger to another suggested that some Republicans were determined to change the meaning of "conservative" from "normal person who wants to protect what's best in mainstream America" to "perpetually indignant, restless carper against everything, obsessed with symbolic issues, determined to punish the country for its impurities."
Some Republicans, we were led to believe, would only be satisfied with angry denunciations of Obama as a Kenyan colonialist and demands for Barack Obama's birth certificate -- without ever spending five minutes of calm contemplation to see that he had already produced it.
And if there's anyplace for a zealot to shine, it's in a caucus state like Iowa.
But Romney won -- in a razor-close finish with another plausible candidate, Rick Santorum.
The reason the Iowa caucuses rarely produce the party's eventual nominee is not because Iowans are wacky white Christians, as some in the media have claimed, but because caucuses are ridiculous ways to choose a presidential candidate. It is a process that empowers the pushy and loud, much like a Manhattan co-op board meeting, but, unfortunately, not like anything envisioned by our founding fathers.
Instead of arguing for hours in public with partisans in order to cast a ballot, voters are supposed to put on their shoes, fight off the Black Panthers on the way to their precincts, vote in private and go home.
So the fact that the Iowa caucuses avoided giving the gold to Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul or some other sure-to-lose candidate shows that Republicans are dead serious about beating Obama this fall. Even in Iowa, the only Republican with a chance of doing that won.
Conservatives are naturally suspicious of any candidate deemed "electable" on the grounds that the mainstream media always anoint the most liberal Republican, preferably pro-choice, as the "electable" one. And then that guy goes on to lose.
But just because liberals misuse the word doesn't mean there is no such thing as "electable."
Michele Bachmann was not electable as president because she is only a congresswoman, which is why she has now dropped out.
Asymmetrical Politics: Republicans Act Like an Unruly Mob, Democrats Like a Regimented Army | Michael Barone