MORE PEOPLE WHO'VE FORGOTTEN WHAT PARTY WE'RE TALKING ABOUT
I'm baffled by pundits who are absolutely certain Rick Perry rendered himself not only unelectable but unnominatable last night, and I'm especially baffled by this, from Jonathan Bernstein:
I'll say one thing: whether it's Palin or Jeb or Thune or Barbour or Daniels or Huck, it's hard to believe that any of the sort-ofs (past and present) looked at the debate and couldn't picture themselves winning solidly. As regular readers know, I like thinking about the incentives that politicians see but don't try to get inside their heads beyond that...all I'd say is that if Palin is on the fence between becoming an all-in candidate or not, I'm pretty confident that the debate pushes her towards yes.
First of all: Daniels? Thune? The race already has two middle-manager-style milquetoasts, Romney and Huntsman (I'm trying to look at this through Republican eyes). Why would it need two more? Imagining that GOP voters would choose Barbour over Perry is like imagining that they're rather hear Colonel Tom Parker sing "Blue Sued Shoes" when Young Elvis is actually in the building. (Again, this is how I see the GOP view -- it's not my view.) Huckabee had a shot early on, but plenty of Republicans see him as a milquetoast, too, and his religious views are well represented in the field already.
And Palin? Well, how many times do pollsters have to tell us that even Republicans are sick of her, so she wouldn't even shake up the race, Andrew Sullivan's breathlessness notwithstanding?
And remember: her cult following is larger than Ron Paul's, her fundamentalist cred is deeper than even Rick Perry's, and her ambition and vanity are boundless.
Reading some "conservative" responses to Perry this morning - cheering him when he seemed to me to be throwing away any chance in a general election - it occurred to me they're protesting too much. They fear her too. Imagine a long primary campaign in which she tears apart the base and the establishment, wins and is unelectable or loses and runs as a Tea Party candidate instead. No Palin scenario is good for the GOP. Which is why they are quietly trying to strangle her candidacy (et vos, Ann and Laura?) before it can even begin.
Look, she may run, because she's crazy, but I think she won't, because she wants to maintain the fiction that she could be president and won't dare to reality-test that out of fear of the likely result.
The only person in Bernstein's list who might possibly have a plausible reason to regret staying on the sidelines is Jeb. He's got a lot going for him: the "executive experience" thing from his years as governor, the Jesus thing, a bit of an angry edge (you have to have that), and his name, which would be a delightful screw-you to us dirty liberals. Chris Christie might also be welcome (though his recent support for Muslims and evolution could hurt him). But the voters are increasingly satisfied with the field, and I imagine even the ones who might be a tad concerned about Perry's electability want someone with more of a nasty edge than Thune, Daniels, Barbour, or Huckabee -- and if they're worried about electability, why the hell consider Palin? Forget it -- I think thew field is complete, or, at most, Palin will enter and flop.