FEEL THE MITCHMENTUM!
It may surprise you, but I actually think this, from Balloon Juice's DougJ, is rather plausible:
Now that Lady Starburst has been deemed insufficiently serious to lead the Party of Lincoln, it's pretty clear that we're in for another GOP daddy as the presidential nominee in 2012. I believe it will be either Hunky Prairie Daddy John Thune or Folksy Fiscal Daddy Mitch Daniels.
I do think Palin is wounded, maybe not fatally but certainly seriously, and no, despite what I wrote recently, I don't really think Michele Bachmann is going to move to the front of the pack if she runs -- I just think she could do better than establishment pundits think she would.
And while I don't agree with Doug that Thune is a real contender, I can absolutely imagine Daniels being the guy who has the winning formula: establishment cred plus piss-off-the-liberals crazy-base appeal.
We know he has establishment cred:
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney continues to hold the pole position for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination in the latest National Journal Political Insiders Poll. But the surprise runner-up to Romney was the two-term Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who moved up from fifth place when the last ranking of the potential GOP White House contenders was conducted a year ago....
What I keep looking for -- and what I find lacking in Thune, Huntsman, Barbour, and Pawlenty -- is what I see in people like Palin, Bachmann, and even Bolton and Santorum: appeal to the resentnik base. Daniels wants to privatize everything in creation. If you know anything about him, you know that. That's not as exciting to a teabagger as a Palin speech or a Glenn Beck weepfest, but it's the antithesis of SOCIALISM!!!!1!!!, so I think Daniels could strike gold with these voters, just because they'll think we hate him for that. Add that to his likely support among Beltway pundit blowhards, which will help him win favor among the non-crazy GOP remnant, and I think he's got a real shot.
And no, his time busting the budget in the Bush administration won't really hurt him with even the most fervent movement righties. Have you seen Bush's book sales? All that talk from right-wingers about how they believe Republicans "lost their way" the last time they held power is a crock -- they still love Bush and don't really feel in their guts that he did anything wrong. So yeah, I think Daniels has a real shot.