Saturday night I was watching C-SPAN (isn't that what everybody does on Saturday nights?) and I saw an amazing thing -- a speech by Mitt Romney in which he was relaxed and natural, making jokes that weren't painfully awkward. Had I entered a different dimension? Actually, I had traveled back to February 2000, when Romney was addressing the National Press Club. I found the difference between the Romney of 2000 and the Romney of 2012 mesmerizing. It made me wonder: why is running for president so diminishing? What is it about the process that turns thoughtfulness and confidence into desperation and insincerity? We have 25 million people unemployed or underemployed. And yet our presidential campaign has devolved into a never-ending contest to see which side can catch other side in the worst "gaffe."