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U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney pauses during a rally at Consol Energy's Research and Development facility outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania April 23, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Cohn
He has no choice but to be a dick.
Mitt Romney is getting eviscerated today by everyone who isn't Rush Limbaugh, from Democrats, to Republicans, to conservatives like Tony Perkins, to practically every traditional media journalist in the country.

He deserves it, no doubt. But here's his problem—Romney has no choice but to attack.

Look at it this way: Nate Silver says that Romney has 20.3 percent chance of winning. I think it's zero, but as a best-case scenario for Team Red, let's go with 20.

There aren't many opportunities for Romney to score points. Both sides are up on the air in saturation amounts in a cycle where millions in political ads have done little to move the numbers. The conventions are history, and a disaster for Republicans. Romney has personal liabilities (IOW, he's a dick) that trump whatever disappointment voters might have with Pres. Barack Obama.

So here's the equation: Had Romney played it correctly—issued a rote denunciation of the violence and proclaimed that we all stood together in unity (like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did), Romney would've won the same kind of soft praise that Obama has enjoyed.

Problem is, that soft praise wouldn't get him anywhere past that 20 percent chance of victory, and he'd have one less day (hence one less news cycle) to eat into the president's lead. So he has to attack. And sure, he's more damaged today than he was yesterday, but really, is a 15 percent chance of winning that much worse than a 20 percent chance? Either way, he's headed to defeat. This way, at least he goes down fighting.

It's the same equation he'll face in the debates—his last real chance to salvage his doomed campaign. And just like today, we'll see a desperate Romney flail while Obama gets to act and look presidential.

And yes, he'll look like an even bigger dick, reinforcing his now-entrenched image as an aloof entitled asshole. Heck, some GOP strategists concede that image won't change so why not embrace his "inner Monty Burns"?

“At this point, it may be worth going all-in and saying, I may not be the most likable candidate, but I’m the most qualified — I don’t know if you can literally say that,” the Republican said. “Maybe the best strategy is to embrace the perception that he is a cold-hearted cutter of government waste and inefficiency who will make the tough and at times unpopular decisions to turn the country around.”
Ha ha ha, that would be awesome! But it ain't gonna happen. Early this cycle, his campaign worried that Romney would be branded as "weird." I suspect they'd give anything to have "weird" be the thing that stuck. Instead, he's the dick, and he'll be an even bigger dick every time he attacks.

But he really has no choice.

Originally posted to kos on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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