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This is from Obama’s Last Stand, a new e-book from Glenn Thrush:

Obama [] began campaign preparations feeling neutral about Romney, but like the former governor’s GOP opponents in 2008 and 2012, he quickly developed a genuine disdain for the man. That scorn stoked Obama’s competitive fire, got his head in the game, which came as a relief to some Obama aides who had seen his interest flag when he didn’t feel motivated to crush the opposition. Obama, a person close to him told me, didn’t even feel this strongly about conservative, combative House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Hill Republican he disliked the most. At least Cantor stood for something, he’d say.

When he talked about Romney, aides picked up a level of anger he never had for Clinton or McCain, even after Sarah Palin was picked as his running mate. ‘There was a baseline of respect for John McCain. The president always thought he was an honorable man and a war hero,’ said a longtime Obama adviser. ‘That doesn’t hold true for Romney. He was no goddamned war hero.’”

Romney really does seem to inspire contempt in almost everyone he comes into contact with these days, doesn’t he? I don’t have the sense that this has always been true — he seems to have produced the usual range of reactions when he was governor of Massachusetts or managing Bain Capital or running the Olympics — but something about the presidency seems to have brought out the worst in him. His ambition is so naked, his beliefs so malleable, his pandering so relentless, and his scruples so obviously expendable, that everyone who spars with him comes away feeling like they need to take a shower.

I always wonder how Romney himself feels about this. Surely he knows what he’s doing? It’s not like he’s the worst guy in the world or anything, but somewhere, deep down, he understands that in a pedestrian but still real way he’s compromised his soul for a shot at the Oval Office, doesn’t he? Or has he shut it all out and somehow convinced himself that he’s still the hard-nosed but principled guy he’s always imagined himself to be? I wonder what he thinks of all this in the small hours of the night.

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