I have no other explanation for this except in terms of the petri dish.
None but the kind of culture that goes from throat swab to black plague.
Take a moderate, statesmanlike, center-right Republican. Expose him constantly to the germs of extreme ideology and backwater stagnation. Watch fever consume him.
Watch his tongue swell. Watch him say unimaginable things. Watch him row his boat off into the sunset of extremism expressing love to a face-painted coconut.
At this point, it is too late to have suggested this: Mitt Romney should have worn hazmat garb all these months when pressing flesh with the core constituency he didn't need to convince to vote against Barack Obama.
Too late it is, because he got infected, got a serious case, a politically fatal snoot-full. And now many Republican strategists are breaking out tissues.
Romney offered no apologies for possibly the century's most politically costly blunder, saying that 47 percent of Americans believe they are "victims," are "dependent upon government," and apparently are under-taxed.
He offered no apology for the century's second most politically damaging quote a few days earlier when, on a horrifying day in Libya and Egypt, he dashed off a denunciation of President Obama for appeasing terrorists without knowing what he was denouncing.
GOP strategist Matthew Dowd said the latter sounded like Sarah Palin was serving as Romney's foreign policy adviser. A cheap shot, yes. We have yet to hear Romney say he can see Russia — or the Tripoli coast, for that matter — from his Massachusetts equestrian estate.
The fact is, of late Romney is a lot of things we didn't assume him to be. A strident right-winger. A birther. An anti-choice zealot.
When Romney criticized GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin for implying that rape victims' bodies could repel pregnancy, Mitt sounded moderate, like the Mitt who once supported reproductive rights. But that was the moderate, solutions-seeker Mitt, not the one now contaminated by the "anti" virus.
Since then, Romney has embraced the so-called personhood movement pushed by the anti-choice fringe. Fringe, you say? Yes, indeed, for "personhood" amendments not only would prohibit abortion but also outlawing many forms of birth control.
What's amazing at this point is that Romney has done very little of what political scientists say a candidate ought to win a general election. It was understandable that he would veer right to win the GOP nomination. However, he has done very little to steer back to the center — you know, where elections are won.
Once again, I must attribute this to microbiology, to the strain of super germ that spread rapidly in the 2010 elections, now infecting one house of Congress and one major party, known clinically as staphylococcus tea baggus.
Carriers basically believe that government should be sent to bed, except where it might be needed to get into people's beds and venues of other personal choices, particularly matters sexual.
Carriers are known for their irrational outbursts and overstatements: assertions that Obama is a Muslim; references to his "appeasement of Islamists." Let us understand that someone with said fever may not be aware that with Obama as president, al Qaida has been decimated, Osama bin Laden killed, Moammar Gadhafi ousted. He's an appeaser, and that's that.
Said fever causes the afflicted to speak of Obama's designs to install a socialist — make that communist; make that fascist; he's a Nazi — utopia and otherwise bring America down by the stroke of 2016.
Romney, before contracting this plague, knew none of this to be true. In placating his party's right wing, however, he did not take necessary prophylactic measures to remain his own man.
At minimum, a pair of Latex gloves might have been the difference between a viable candidacy and one in quarantine.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: email@example.com.