The XX Factor

Mitt Romney for Vice President!

Thinking about the 2012 presidential election can turn the most dedicated Republican into an ostrich. It’s far more comfortable to hide your head and pretend the election is eons away than it is to keep up with Donald Trump’s oxygen-sucking birtherism or confront Sarah Palin’s campaign-by-Facebook tactics.

On the bright side, the first two Republicans to form exploratory committees are serious candidates with not a single reality show appearance between them.  Tim Pawlenty announced late last month, and then, to absolutely no one’s surprise, Mitt Romney announced his exploratory committee Monday .

I’m of two minds about Romney. On the one hand, his successful business background and his leadership in turning the 2002 Winter Olympics into a huge success indicate that he would have the chops to steer a probably-still-not-fantastic economy if he were to win in 2012. On the other hand, it’s almost impossible to see him winning the nomination, or, even if he manages to do that, the election.

It’s one thing to “evolve” into a social conservative to make the transition from Republican governor of a liberal state to a candidate seeking national office, or to pretend for the sake of the NRA that “I’ve been a hunter pretty much all my life.” But Romney can be so plastic-the pliable, stretchy kind, like a Gumby doll-that he’s trying to run against the health-care system that he implemented as Massachusetts governor, the system that Democrats now gleefully point out was a model for Obamacare.

At the WaPo ’s  The Fix blog, Chris Cillizza* has a nice, in-depth look at what it will take for Romney to win the GOP nomination, and he says “Romney’s biggest hurdle is health care. Period.”  More like Romney’s Mt. Everest.  I just can’t see how the base will let him get away with his states’ rights “laboratories of democracy” spin on this one.

In the dark days of the 2008 campaign, when the economy was imploding and John McCain bizarrely suspended his campaign to  head back to Washington and address the financial crisis, I wished fervently that he had picked Mitt Romney, a man with some credibility on the matter, to be his running mate, instead of the hockey mom.

Three years later, I have no idea which GOP candidate I might support this go-round, or whether I’ll be tempted to dust off my Ayn Rand collection, figure out who Wayne Root is , and throw my lot in with the libertarians.  But one thing hasn’t changed: Mitt Romney seems like a great candidate for vice president.

Correction, April 12, 2011: The post originally misspelled the name of Chris Cillizza.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images .