By Fareed Zakaria
As President Obama has surged in the polls, Republicans have been quick to identify the problem: Mitt Romney. Peggy Noonan eloquently voiced what many conservatives believe when she said that Romney’s campaign has been a “rolling calamity.” Others have been equally critical of his candidacy. And yet, shouldn’t it puzzle us that Romney is so “incompetent” (also from Noonan), given his deserved reputation for, well, competence? He founded one of this country’s most successful financial firms, turned around the flailing Salt Lake City Olympics and was a successful governor. How did he get so clumsy so fast?
In fact, the problem is not Romney but the new Republican Party. Given the direction in which it has moved and the pressures from its most extreme — yet most powerful — elements, any nominee would face the same challenge: Can you be a serious candidate for the general election while not outraging the Republican base?