Opinion: Columnists

Twelve days of woe

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By all our traditional Christmas standards, Barack Obama must have been a wonderful child this year. Even before the year started, St. Nicholas brought him such armfuls of presents, they overflowed even the most capacious of stockings, and barely fit under the tree.

Christmas 2012 started in 2009-2010, when Republicans were given a boxload of candidates who wouldn't be ready until 2016, leaving them with a handful of used toys from last time, too scruffed-up and dingy for use. Gift No. 1 came in October 2011, when Chris Christie, dragged to the gate by a cohort of activists, refused to go in at the very last moment, leaving the field to one rerun -- Mitt Romney -- and a vast cast of others, too scary to think of, whose only excuse for running for anything was that they were filling the vacuum that nature abhors.

Gifts two through 10 were the rest of the chorus. If you were a Democrat, who could pick out a team to define your opponents, then the cast of Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum made up your Field of Dreams. Perry said "Oops" and underperformed expectations; Bachmann went on about "government needles"; Paul proved it was time to pass his own torch to his personal new generation; and Gingrich and Santorum, whose public careers ended 14 and six years ago in emphatic rejections, only proved how correct in their judgments the Republican caucus and the state of Pennsylvania had been. Who doesn't love an ex-House speaker who throws endless tantrums; an ex-senator who rails against John Kennedy's speech to Protestant ministers (and gives Obama fuel for his fraudulent "war against women"); or a radio host who attacks Sandra Fluke as a "slut" (instead of the more seemly "twit" and/or "whiner") and makes her a martyr, a heroine and a media star?

Gift No. 3 -- or 13 -- was the survivor, Mitt Romney, a business whiz and, it seems, a sweet human being, with a gift for saying the wrong things ("47 percent," for example), at just the wrong moment, and a resume wrong for the times. "Less than four years after the fall of Lehman, the GOP standard bearer was a venture capitalist who opposed the auto bailout and was building a dream home in LaJolla," sighed Michael Gerson. "It is remarkable that the Republican Party nominated a capitalist caricature to respond to an economic crisis created, in part, by capitalist caricatures. The choice involved a certain gutsy, irrational defiance, like wearing a top hat to a NASCAR race. But it didn't turn out well," he said.

But it wasn't a "choice." It was an act of necessity, made after everyone else had been tried and found wanting, if not certifiable. But you can't say it wasn't a gift.

And if those weren't enough, there were other treats in the stocking, such as Hurricane Sandy, which didn't cost the GOP the election but probably made the loss greater; the "fiscal cliff" at the end of the year that played out like TARP redux, with internal wars, much chaos and maximum damage; and two U.S. Senate candidates whose statements concerning abortion made Republicans wish they had never been born.

The gift for the Republican Party right now is that this year is over; it gets to take out its gifts from the 2010 midterms (Tim Scott among them, thanks to Jim DeMint and his travels) and get ready for 2016.

Examiner Columnist Noemie Emery is contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."

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