I’ve long since moved away from being a self-conscious conservative: meaning that guy that MUST TELL YOU how conservative he is. Not because it’s silly, but because I realized I never had to prove my beliefs to you or anyone. When someone calls me a “RINO,” I just realize it’s someone flexing his muscles. It’s the kind of chest-beating that serves them, but bores me. It’s shorthand for “knucklehead.”

Lets take a look at the last two presidential elections and ask: did those losses reflect a weakness in spine, or ideology?

Dismissing Senator McCain as a “RINO” – a decorated war hero with more character in his pinky than the entirety of cable’s political blowhards – does not offer any insight as to why he lost. Obama’s win had nothing to do with McCain’s moderation. It had to do with being a first. We all know this. Obama was unbeatable for that simple reason. He was a first. We made fun of Chris Matthews’ “thrill” up his leg. But secretly, I envied it.

Romney had a slightly better chance, but he still was going to lose. And it wasn’t due to flaws in his politics, but a set of circumstances that could only be overturned by a truly charismatic opponent with a powerful vision. That was not present in the Republican field. Romney is a great man, but failed in translating that greatness through connection, through speech (however: say what you will about Newt, he would have destroyed Obama in the debates. I don’ t think that would have led to President Gingrich, but damn it would have been a sight to behold.)