Let me finish with this.
The man on the white horse is not coming to save the Republican party. No Lone Ranger. No Cisco Kid. Nobody's coming to the rescue. It's going to have to be one of the town members who saves the day, just one of the businessmen from Main Street.
And this is how the story of 2012 is going to be told from now on: it's going to be Mitt Romney, a man of business, heading out there at high noon to go face-to-face with the President.
How did it come to this? Because of the nature of things, I suppose. The Republican Party has been picking its champions the same way since I began paying attention. They go for the guy whose turn it is, the guy who's been beaten--even beaten up some.
But he's waited his turn. That's what matters. Just like Dick Nixon and Ronald Reagan and even George Herbert Walker Bush and Bob Dole and John McCain--he's taken his lumps from the other side, taken them from the party itself, finally gotten to where his chance has arrived.
It's different for Democrats, of course. They feed the hot hand: a young guy comes along--a JFK, a George McGovern, a Mike Dukakis, a Bill Clinton, a Barack Obama--they feed him the ball, let him take the shot.
Republicans like to see their candidates endure, suffer, marinate a bit. They want to see some "L's" on their record before they get their "W." They liked to see the scar tissue on the men they end up running. Ask Bush senior or Bob Dole or John McCain.
So now, coming out of Illinois is Mitt Romney, veteran of almost 30 primaries and caucuses and a far greater number of wounds, most of them self-inflicted. He may not have much sparkle left in his candidacy but he certainly knows the rounds now. He's took enough abuse to know who his friends are. His friends are the people who have now come to accept him--no matter how much they've put off saying so, no matter how long they've lingered in hopes of a man on a white horse racing into town.
They accepted Romney without excitement because they never felt from him the strength of commitment one feels in the leader who comes to the rescue.
And that remains a problem, doesn't it?