Barack H. Obama will be re-elected in 2012.

I don’t usually make predictions, especially that far in advance, but that one approximates a no-brainer. The subordinate prediction, that Mitt Romney will never be elected President of the United States, requires roughly the same level of foresight.

The media-based “vetting” process is designed and skilfully constructed to identify the Republican candidate most like a Democrat. Since detecting the difference between a Romney administration and an Obama administration would be impossible without a mass spectrograph and a sensitive gravitometer, that’s Mitt. (And before you object, yes, that includes Supreme Court appointments.) Plastic imitations are only popular when they’re cheaper than the real thing. Faced at the polls with the choice between a real Democrat and ersatz, people will either vote for the real one or stay at home.

There are, as usual, some important issues facing the country. As usual, important issues are also uncomfortable issues, so people prefer to avoid them in favor of the People magazine level, i.e., delicious sex-related “scandals” and what the candidates did when they were fifteen (the two are often related, of course). Also as usual, any important issue disfavors Democrats, so the media are all-out to shift the focus to things that are titillating but barely if at all relevant. And again as usual, the easy path for Republican candidates and their staffs is to exploit the media’s predilections in order to cut down the competition for the nomination. It is, after all, the only way to get teevee time, but it’s positive feedback reinforcing the search for the most-nearly Democratic Republican.

Mitt Romney could at least partly short-circuit that if he cared to, but clearly he does not. If the Romney organization met each media blitz against his Republican challengers by emphasizing his stand on the issues and being publicly insistent on that, a good deal of the irrelevancy could be put behind us. The difficulty there is that Romney and his staff are comfortably aware that he is the Republican most like a Democrat, and thereby well-nigh immune to the sort of challenge currently facing, e.g., Herman Cain. That being the case, Romney just sits the disputes out, careful not to let his satisfied smile at seeing another challenger cut down show to anyone likely to publicize it. Of course, the media and their Democratic Party co-conspirators are busily saving up bits; they won’t use them against Romney while he’s contesting against other Republicans, but once the general election is on there will be damaging stuff emerging in every news cycle. Why that concept is, or at least appears to be, obscure to Romney & Co. is a mystery, of course, just as it was with John McCain, but it’s true nevertheless.

Republicans, especially those with Tea Party sympathies, would be well advised to regard the Presidential nomination process as a sideshow, to be enjoyed during free time but not taken seriously. It does have the value that it will distract a great deal of media attention from the lower-level races where success is actually possible. Have fun, and pile on when you have the opportunity, but the work is getting Republican candidates with Tea Party allegiance elected at every possible level below the Presidency, from the Senate right down to dog catcher in places where that’s an elective office. As an important secondary effort, it is also needful to root the would-be Democrats out of the Party organization. They’re too useful to the Romneys and McCains to leave in place. It ain’t glamorous, but it might allow something to be saved in all the mess.