Last week, columnist Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote perhaps the saddest plea for help uttered by a conservative commentator ever. Writing in 'The Week', Dougherty literally begged Mitt Romney to enter the Presidential race "to save his party":
Romney should be ready to enter the field to save his party from an awful reckoning between its leadership and its base, a reckoning that has been brought on by Donald Trump's campaign. Trump has proven that the "strongest GOP primary fieldin 30 years" is no such thing, creating an opening for the winner of the last primary. If Romney should win the primary, it would be an incredible political comeback. It would also be a gift to his party, forcing on the GOP the reality of a new and stable settlement between its factions.
Dougherty does his best to make the prospect of a last minute Romney save as exciting as possible - the "incredible" comeback would stop The Donald in his tracks and finish the job Romney started against Obama in 2012. Wrote Dougherty:
Romney, if he can secure the nomination, has a much better shot in 2016 than he did in 2012. He would be running against Obama's third term, with the torch passed to a much less talented and more scandal-plagued Hillary Clinton. Obama and Romney were well-matched as devoted husbands and ethically sound politicians. In a contest against Clinton, Romney looks much better by comparison. Furthermore, ObamaCare is no longer the defining issue of the election, and Romney can run as the man to reform the reform, not revoke it.
There you have it folks, Mitt Romney can save the Republican Party from the lunacy of Donald Trump because he is a devoted husband and he no longer has to run against his own health care policy. Forget vision, charisma or leadership potential, a man who doesn't trade his wife in when she turns 40 and can "reform the reform" will do the trick! After all, they'll be running against a politician less talented than Obama, so why aim too high?
This meme appears to be gaining some popularity in conservative circles, a truly sad sign that the Republican Party is now completely beyond help. With Trump recently signing a pledge to stay loyal to the GOP, the inner turmoil must be keeping the party big wigs in a state of utter despair - they can't win with Trump and they can't win without him. The pledge was a desperate bid to control him, but Trump takes orders from Trump - as even Fox News has discovered.
Romney's popularity with big money donors and election strategists like Karl Rove was due to two perceived qualities: firstly, with his neatly coiffed hair and generic American CEO facial features, Romney looks like a President. Secondly, Romney would say literally anything to get elected. He swung to the crazy right when he had to and moved back to the center when necessary. It wasn't enough to beat Obama, but against other political duds there is at least a chance. The problem is, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are no duds and would handily spank Romney in a general election.
Donald Trump on the other hand, doesn't look Presidential, won't change his message to appeal to anyone who doesn't already support him, and can't win in the general election. This is a complete disaster for the GOP, and they know it.
Can anyone save the GOP from disaster? A wildcard candidate may emerge in the coming months, but one thing is for sure - it ain't Mitt Romney.