What occurs to me is that, by losing the election, you might have been spared a cruel fate. If elected, you would have inherited an economic mess. The problem isn’t just the looming fiscal cliff and debt ceiling, but the overall financial situation of our government is clearly unsustainable and nonviable. Entitlement spending has mushroomed so that it—combined with interest on the national debt—now consumes virtually every dollar of tax revenue. That means that the various departments and agencies that we normally think of as “the federal government,” from the Pentagon through the EPA and everything in between, is being run on borrowed (or “quantitatively eased”) dollars. No president could trim entitlement spending or shut down enough of the government to stanch the flood of red ink. Government indebtedness will continue to balloon and our currency will continue to be debauched, and it would have been impossible for you, given the prevalent attitudes of the people, to halt that insidious process. You might have tried by firing Ben Bernanke and replacing him with someone who would stop quantitative easing, but that would have caused interest rates to rise and the federal government to become insolvent, triggering a crisis that would have made you a vilified president.
The presidency at this juncture in history strikes me as an impossible job. Both domestic and foreign policy seem to be Gordian knots that no mere mortal can cut. I know, though, that you would have valiantly been willing to give your all in the attempt to help your country at this difficult time. Your path as president would have been as excruciating as those last 30 yards of that cross country race you ran so long ago, but you would have addressed the challenge with the same determination and commitment as you did then. Now those awful burdens you would have been willing to shoulder fall on your opponent, and we’ll see what kind of shoulders he has.
You gave years of your life for the chance to be of service to your country, Mitt, and you lived by our school motto, “Aim High.” You did us proud.