Perhaps because Mitt Romney is a Winston Churchill fan and Barack Obama is not, I thought this morning of Churchill's "end of the beginning" remarks, delivered almost 70 years ago, at Mansion House in London, on November 10, 1942.
Here are a few relevant lines:
"I notice...that news from the various fronts has been somewhat better lately. ... Now, however, we have a new experience. We have victory--a remarkable and definite victory. The bright gleam has caught the helmets of our soldiers and warmed and cheered all our hearts. ... Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning to the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. ... [T]he victory which has already been gained gives good prospects of becoming decisive and final..."
The key now—as the Romney campaign surely knows—is not to bask in last night's victory. The task now is to capitalize on it. The Romney campaign has to frame what happened last night as a template for the rest of the campaign—for a serious and sustained critique of the Obama presidency and of what another four years of Obama's policies would mean, and for a continuing clear presentation of what Romney would do instead. If the debate can become an inflection point, a launching pad for the rest of the race, it won't be merely the end of the beginning of the general election campaign. It could become the beginning of the end of the failed Obama presidency.