When I was a young child, I rode a cog railway to the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. It had a unique gear mechanism designed for steep grades. The train would move forward two gear ratchets and "slip" one; thus, in a way, my non-mechanical mind accepted this action as a matter of fact, keeping the train secure and also moving to the top, two steps forward, one back.

Mitt Romney's candidacy has that same gear ratio. Every victory and steps forward are followed by a little slip back, but he doesn't slide and slowly grinds his way to altitude.

We have seen this pattern most recently in the aftermath of his biggest win yet, in Illinois. There have been not only the Etch A Sketch gaffe but the weakest endorsements I have ever heard from Jeb Bush and Jim DeMint. Both men sounded as if they were not only holding their noses but covering their eyes and ears as well as they perfunctorily gave Romney the nod.

I wonder about this endorsement strategy by Romney. It seems off to me. I understand the desire to make himself look inevitable and have the party close ranks around him, but the the tepid — frigid, really — nature of his anointment only underscores his weakness. But keep grinding, Mitt. The summit is in sight.