In the defiant tune "That's Life," Frank Sinatra sang in 1966 about an unfortunate pattern in his life: "flying high in April, shot down in May."
That's what's happened to Mitt Romney on a larger scale. The Republican presidential nominee was soaring toward what he thought would be a strong victory in the November election, but was shot down by voters and is now living in relative seclusion. He remains a very rich man, but he has no job and no policy perch. He is rarely mentioned in Washington and has become something of a political castaway. For someone accustomed to success, it must be a bitter pill to swallow.
One of the most interesting political stories to appear recently was Philp Rucker's report in the Washington Post Sunday on Romney's reclusive behavior since he lost to President Obama. He was portrayed as a man at loose ends, poking around his beach house in La Jolla, Calif., disappointed and trying to figure out his next step. Romney's experience illustrates how quickly our political system throws aside the losers and leaves them to fend for themselves.
A month ago, Romney expected to win the presidential election and take up residence in January at the White House. Now he is an also-ran, and his party appears eager to forget him. In Washington's current budget debate, his name and his ideas are not invoked even though he made strengthening the economy and reducing federal spending two of his main issues.
Nor does he want to jump back into politics. "In private, Romney has told friends he has little interest in helping the Republican Party rebuild and re-brand itself," the Post said.
It's no wonder. The GOP never warmed to Romney, and neither did most Americans. He seemed too willing to change his mind on policy, too bloodless, and lacking in empathy. After the election, Romney told wealthy donors that he lost because Obama gave political "gifts" to women, Hispanics, African Americans, and young people, who then voted for him, but the comments were blasted as insensitive and off base.
The Post said, "The defeated Republican nominee has practically disappeared from public view since his loss, exhibiting the same detachment that made it so difficult for him to connect with the body politic through six years of running for president." He had a private lunch with President Obama at the White House last week but declined to discuss it publicly afterward and the White House didn't elaborate.
Of course, it's not a bad life, considering that Romney still has a massive personal fortune, a loyal family, and many friends.
He is considering his options in the private sector, where he was a very successful investor for many years. But given how their hopes were dashed on November 6, many Republicans wish Romney would just go away.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Facebook and Twitter.