Solid analysis. From The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan:
Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have risen to the top of the American political system in an intensely political era. And yet neither loves politics or appears to have a particularly oversized gift for it. This is a central and amazing fact of the national election.
Mr. Obama has become actively bad at politics. Here is an example of how bad. Anyone good at politics does not pick a fight with the Catholic Church during a presidential year. Really, you just don't. Because there's about 75 million Catholics in America, and the half of them who go to church will get mad. The other half won't like it either.
If you're good at politics, you quietly allow the church what it needs to survive, which actually is no more or less than what's long been provided by the U.S. Constitution.
Only if you are really, really not good at politics do you alienate the bishops of a great faith in an election year.
A more important example, and then we'll move on. The president opened his campaign with a full-fledged assault on his opponent. This is a bad sign in an incumbent! An incumbent should begin his campaign with a full-fledged assertion of the excellence of his administration—the progress that has been made, the trouble that has been avoided, the promise that endures. You've got to be able to name these things. Then, once you've established the larger meaning of your administration—with wit and humor, and in a tone that assumes fair-minded Americans will see it your way—you turn, in late summer, to a happy, spirited assault on the poor, confused, benighted and yet ultimately dangerous man running against you.
The president's campaign is making him look small and scared.
Mr. Romney, too, has had his bad moments. Donald Trump this week is an example. Mr. Trump brings with him the freak-show aspects of the primaries. Mr. Romney has to kick away from that, start a new chapter, begin an appeal to the sane center. Does he think keeping Trump close gains him some kind of right-wing street cred? My goodness, who does he think lives on that street?
More important, when you're good at politics you know what you have to do, if not immediately then soon. Mr. Romney has to give us a plan. He has to tell us his priorities. To lead is to prioritize, to choose: "We will take this path, at this speed, toward this end." He hasn't done this yet. He told me last week of some immediate intentions: repeal ObamaCare, and move boldly to unleash America's energy resources—he called them "newly discovered and extraordinary."