“Why Is No One Attacking Romney?”  That’s the question I have been pounding all fall, particularly in the past 6 weeks. It’s also the question asked by Alex Roarty at National Journal:

It’s an old story this primary, where Romney has not faced the kind of withering attacks that normally confront a front-runner. His rivals have trained their fire on one another instead….

And it’s not as though Romney, his past rooted in blue-state Massachusetts, didn’t supply his opponents plenty of ammunition. They have the bullets; they’re just not firing them.

We know part of the explanation.  The most aggressive talker, Michele Bachmann, was playing for Veeps.

But how to explain Paul and Perry, each of whom dumped millions in negative ads on Newt’s head rather than Romney.  I understand wanting to be the top not-Romney, but it did them no good so long as Romney kept his 20-25%.

Think where Romney would be if he had been the recipient of the negative ads in Iowa on the scale directed at Newt:

Anyone seeking an explanation of GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s recent drop in Iowa polls may find answers in a new analysis of Iowa political advertising.

The survey, conducted by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, finds 45% of all political ads in Iowa have been attack spots against Gingrich. Only 6% were supportive of the former House speaker.

History tells us where we will be when there is a sustained anti-Romney negative ad campaign.  It worked for Ted Kennedy (focusing on Bain) and John McCain (focusing on flip-flops and lack of core conviction).  It also started to work over this summer and fall when Democrats rather gently started going after Romney, before the primary noise heated up.

There is every reason to believe that the lines of attack which worked for Kennedy and McCain will work for Obama, who will have the money and inclination to do to Romney what Newt and others were unwilling or unable to do, joined by a media all too happy to pile on the Republican.

The primaries could have been a good test of Romney’s general election electability.  Had Romney endured the onslaught, he would have earned the nomination the old-fashioned way.

Instead, Romney is being given a free pass to the General Election, where we will see history repeat itself.  The only question is how bad the carnage will be.