Mitt Romney has become the acid reflux candidate. He just keeps coming back up.
There has been poll after poll, story after story, and now, over the weekend, a "Ready for Romney" website has emerged, which may or may not be serious. (I am guessing "Masochists for Mitt" was already taken.)
The Mitt boomlet is driven by three major forces:
First, the belief that the potential Republican field for 2016 is so weak — even though you can find more than a dozen reasonably serious candidates in it — that Mitt will rise head and shoulders above it. It's the Simon and Garfunkel scenario: "A nation turns its lonely eyes to you. (Woo, woo, woo.)"
The second driving force is that there are big-business men eager to give big money to a fellow big-business man such as Mitt in the hopes that he will fight tooth and nail to protect the 1 percent from the greed and laziness of the 99 percent.
Third, there are ex-Romney staffers who need jobs. And who else is going to hire them in 2016 except Romney? Having Romney 2012 on your resume is like having Hoover 1932 on your resume. Don't call us; we'll call you.
History is not on Romney's side.
The most recent time the Republicans nominated a previous losing candidate the next time around was in 1948. It was Thomas Dewey. He lost.
The most recent time the Democrats nominated a previous losing candidate the next time around was in 1956. It was Adlai Stevenson. He lost.
True, Richard Nixon was nominated and lost in 1960 and then won both the nomination and presidency in 1968, but Nixon had a fire in his belly that could have blotted out the sun.
Is Mitt that driven? I don't think so. So why doesn't he end the Chinese water torture of speculation?
Why should he? He likes being speculated about. He likes being talked about. As one Republican leader told Politico's Ben White on Dec. 5, "he still views himself as the leader of the establishment wing of the Republican Party."
Actually, I wasn't aware the Republican Party still had an establishment wing. A wishbone, maybe, but a whole wing?
The Washington Post on Oct. 13 identified Romney as "the tacit head of the Republican Party." Well, maybe. Or maybe that's just another way of saying the party is headless.
So why shouldn't Romney bask in the limelight? What else is he going to do, roll back and forth on his money like Scrooge McDuck?
At a St. Patrick's Day breakfast in 2005, Romney said: "When I was a boy, I used to think that becoming rich and becoming famous would make me happy. Boy, was I right!"
But not really. Rich and famous is not enough for some people. They want power, too. This is not always bad. Sometimes they want the power to do good.
But to get the power, Romney, 67, first would have to win the Republican nomination again. It wouldn't be all that easy.
Republican voters might examine how Romney did when he ran in 2012. And he didn't do all that well.
Against a president with low approval ratings and at a time of high unemployment, Romney lost by nearly 5 million popular votes and 126 electoral votes.
Romney's reputation, aided by a sympathetic documentary, has grown since 2012. But as I remember, he was not that deft a candidate. Americans are not opposed to electing a rich person to the presidency, as long as they are convinced that rich person understands them, their needs, their hopes, their dreams.
Romney never showed that understanding. Instead, he famously stated that 47 percent of voters "are dependent upon government ... believe that they are victims ... believe that government has a responsibility to care for them ... (and) believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it — that that's an entitlement."
It's not just that he said it; he believed it. And then there was the car elevator and the dog on the station wagon roof and "self-deportation" and the millions he had kept in Swiss bank accounts and had stashed in the Cayman Islands.
Does he really need all that again?
I know, I know. Do not judge Mitt Romney until you have walked a mile in his living room.
Sorry. Couldn't resist. But does Romney really want to jump back into the meat grinder? On Nov. 30, his wife, Ann, tweeted a family picture, with this caption: "Here's what (Mitt Romney) looks like after a long Thanksgiving weekend with our grandkids in San Diego."
The picture is of Mitt and Ann on a couch with two dogs, a grandchild and a bird sitting somewhat oddly on Mitt's mussed hair. Mitt is grinning. He looks happy. Very happy.
Romney had a standard joke he used on the stump and adapted to many occasions. In it, he recalls saying: "Ann, did you, in your wildest dreams, ever think I'd be a leading presidential candidate?" Then he says, "And she turned to me and said, 'Mitt, you're not in my wildest dreams.'"
Yes, he is. And he can stay there. By staying home.