by Patrick Appel

A reader channels my own feelings about the 2012 GOP field:

Your assessment of Romney's "plastic focus-group conservatism" is dead-on, and it gave perennial independents like myself the heebie-jeebies.  But that assertion has been so consistently registered that one would hope it's found its way to Romney, and there is reason (isn't there?) to think he can learn from that.  I think he got caught in a primary campaign still being fought under the Rove rules of the 2000's, a personality contest and wedge-fest that the GOP had better abandon, because the few viable candidates they have don't possess a personality and they're increasingly on the losing side of past tried and true wedge issues.  And regardless of how the next three years go, you can't take a personality contest into the general election against Obama.

 
What Romney can do that others can't is highlight his resume and brand himself as the competent and practical chief exec he actually kinda sorta is. 

In this regard he can actually be a game-changer; as the presumptive front-runner going into 2012, he has the opportunity to establish the rules of the playing field to some degree.  If he can make the central focus ability and competence instead of cuddly and slick, nobody in the GOP can touch him.  As important, it makes indies like me sit up and take notice.  Does it make primary season tough?  You betcha -- he'll have to either get on board or around the wackjob wing of the party.  I'd recommend around; don't pander to the Huckabee crowd that likely would have reservations about voting for a Morman anyway, make the case to the sane right and independents that flooding the primaries will put the Palin/Huckabee idealogues to bed and give the GOP a legitimate electoral shot at Obama.

 
Is Romney savvy or patient enough to do all of this?  Well, probably not.  But it's there.

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