The Washington Post

Obama’s luck and Romney’s elasticity

Many of my political friends have told me they consider Barack Obama the luckiest politician they have ever observed. Perhaps today’s jobs report will give them further fodder. With a reasonably robust number of new jobs created, the unemployment rate has fallen to a 44-month low. This will take considerable sting out of the Denver debate debacle.

This news could not have come at a better time for Obama. Mitt Romney is on the verge of becoming a dangerous candidate again. For months, he was constrained by moving to the center, because his conservative base was still not consolidated after his bitter primaries. But, ironically, Romney’s collapse, from Tampa until Denver, has enabled him to pose as a centrist again, which is where he needs to be to win. Conservatives will give him a pass; now, they just want to win, purity be damned. Romney has carte blanche to say whatever he wants up to Election Day. Imply he would like to hire more teachers? Say he’s in favor of green energy, ending the restriction on insurance for preexisting conditions, a deficit-neutral tax plan? No problem. Just win, baby. Yesterday, Romney even said his infamous 47 percent remark was just “completely wrong.”

Mitt Romney has shown a political elasticity over the years that could rival a fat man’s waistband. On abortion, global warming and health care, Romney has completely reversed field. Perhaps that was what so befuddled Obama in Wednesday’s encounter. Even so, the president had better snap out of it and not underestimate Mitt’s Romney’s powers of reinvention.


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