Mike Huckabee, one of the most pleasant theocrats I’ve ever heard speak, has dropped out of the 2012 race. To be fair, he never actually said he was going to run, but c’mon! He was near the top of the heap in every straw poll, and he’s one of the few people polling above single digits that could be a credible candidate. So he’s gone now.
Donald Trump, one of the most unpleasant human beings I’ve ever heard speak, has dropped out of the 2012 race. Again, he never actually filed as a candidate, but he also polled near the top of most straw polls, although he’s definitely not in the credible candidate category by a long stretch.
What is the GOP left with in their pack o’ pols? Tim Pawlenty, who seems like a decent and sane human being, has been trying to get the GOP base to forget that he’s ever done anything decent and sane in order to get the nomination. Mitt Romney is running against his own record, going so far as to say that state government mandating health insurance is a good thing while federal government mandating health insurance is pure unadulterated evil. Those are the credible candidates with name recognition.
Then we’ve got the Republican Remnants of Resounding Ridiculousness. Sarah Palin is not running, but will keep pretending she might so long as people give her money. Newt Gingrich, the twice-divorced confessed adulterer who is in favor of and opposed to every decision ever made by President Obama, is the “smart” one. Michele Bachmann is the biggest loon who ever thought incandescent light bulbs were an unalienable right. Herman Cain has already come out in favor of discrimination, as long as it’s only Muslims you hate. Rick Santorum will have a hard time getting away from his “man on dog” comments regarding the slippery slope from gay rights to mandatory bestiality. Ron Paul shows up every so often just so people can laugh at the very idea that the GOP would endorse a candidate who doesn’t think the USA is the world’s police force and that marijuana is actually not important enough to cause so many people to be in jail.
And then there are the credible candidates nobody knows. These poor folks have every indication of being capable of responsible governing. Naturally, they are doomed in today’s GOP, where governing responsibly is only one step removed from actually being Pol Pot. Mitch Daniels doesn’t obsess over culture war crap, and looks like an adult (and how sad is it that “adult” is a compliment rather than assumed), but he has not announced yet and has mediocre name recognition. Jon Huntsman looks presidential and doesn’t go crazy culture warrior either, but who outside of Utah knows his name?
With the loss of Huckabee and Trump this week, there is no clear frontrunner in the GOP pack. Of course, it’s trivial to point to the evidence that no prognostication 18 months before a Presidential election is remotely accurate. But, it’s also true that, nearly without exception, the eventual nominee was at least on the field by this point. And, can you honestly imagine anyone, among these people, who could make it past the GOP primary and not be batshit crazy? When Michele Bachmann is getting reasonable numbers, I fear that the Republican Party has completely lost their collective minds. And, although I’m not likely to vote for any of these people anyway, having a strong opposition that has good ideas helps to keep the other group sane and honest. If one party is just nuts, the other party can ignore them without peril. If both parties are nuts…well.