Mitt Romney hasn't so much won the nomination as just hung around long enough to get it. His victory has been as undramatic as his campaign, which may be his big problem. Since it became clear he would win the run-up to the fall, he does seem to have developed a new ease, a new ability to counter-punch, and the man who always looked like a president has begun to talk more like one. But only a little more. It's not that he needs more calculation. He's got more than enough of that. He needs less scripting, not more.
Mr. Romney's undramatic victory, or rather inevitable emergence, is both his strength and weakness as a presidential candidate. Surely, no one can believe that anyone so devoid of flair could be a danger to the Republic, for he appears abnormally normal, but where is that indefinable quality, that x factor Americans look for in a president?
Every great president may have his own unique version of that quality. It eludes definition, but you know it when you sense it -- whether in an FDR or even a Theodore Roosevelt, a Truman or an Eisenhower, a Kennedy or a Reagan. You don't have to be a fan of any of those presidents to recognize that they had something Americans wanted -- and needed -- in a leader in their time, and still do.
Mitt Romney has got a lot of thinking to do, even praying, before Americans really begin paying attention to him or the final laps in this race. God help him -- and anybody else who's a serious candidate for president of the United States. It takes some moxie to volunteer for the job, and a lot more. If there's a single word for the hard-to-pin-down quality that Americans look for in a president, it is a capacity for greatness. As distinguished from all the press releases, nominating speeches and general blather extolling a candidate's supposed greatness.
It is a rare quality, the promise of greatness, and there are some who despair of any candidate's showing it in our time. Our great presidents, like our best days, we may be tempted to believe, are behind us.
It's a temptation that never tempted me. After every great president is gone, there are those who say there will never be another -- another Washington, another Lincoln, another Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan ... and there haven't been.
Instead, the next great president will be his own unique man -- or woman. And there will be such a president. For, as Bismarck said, God looks after fools, drunkards and the United States of America.