3) Romney is going to be a lot tougher on Obama than was McCain in 2008. For all the complaints against his moderation by the tea-party base, they will slowly rally to him as he makes arguments against Obama of the sort that McCain was perceived as unable or unwilling to make. So far Romney’s attitude is that he is in the arena where blows come thick and fast, and one can’t whine when being hit or hitting — a view far preferable to McCain’s lectures about what not to say or do in 2008. Left-wing preemptory charges that Romney is “swift-boating” or “going negative” will probably have slight effect on him. Just as Bill Clinton saw that Dukakis in 1988 had wanted to be liked rather than feared and so himself ran a quite different, tough 1992 race, so too Romney knows where McCain’s magnanimity got him in 2008. Romney won’t be liked by the press, knows it, and perhaps now welcomes it…

5) The Republicans seem so far to have a lot more interest in defeating Obama than Democrats do in reelecting him. That enthusiasm level can change; but so far we are not going to see, I think, a lot of moderate Republicans writing about Obama’s sartorial flair and his first-class temperament, or screeds against a Republican incumbent. One meets lots of people who sheepishly confess they voted for Obama in 2008 but learned their lesson, less so those who regret that they voted for McCain and now promise to rectify that.