OK, so at the end of a truly awful weekend, I just wrote today's entry and had it disappear into the ether at the hands of a malfunctioning mouse that double-clicks every time I click. To say I nearly propelled it through the wallboard would be an understatement.

The crux of the post was that I have wrapped my brain around the field of presidential nominees a million times and I still can't think of any logical argument regarding who will win the Republican nomination. I'm really just at a loss for words. I had previously developed a logically consistent argument that Fred Thompson would be the front-runner when he declared, but his campaign appears DOA. The neck-breaking yawn with which his announcement was greeted must have been stunning even to his biggest naysayers.

So please, use the comments to make an argument; who in the hell is going to win that thing? I'm out of defensible theories and I'm completely open to suggestion. Don't just tell me who – explain why any of these people could reasonably be considered a favorite over any of the others.

I'll stop making you do all the work on this blog soon, I promise.

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  • We're seeing the paralysis of too many choices–there's no incumbency factor, and all of them are hedging around the fact that they have to win the "I'm A Lifelong Republican And I Hate Bush" vote as well as the much smaller, but more vital because they vote in primaries "Die Hard Do Or Die I Support Our President No Matter What" vote.

    So none of them can actually *say* anything to distinguish themselves from each other, because they're all dancing to the same tune. The country overwhelmingly thinks that we're 'headed in the wrong direction,' so they have to present themselves as 'Not Bush', but party loyalty says that they have to declare the opposite.

    Plus they're stuck with the fact that their main rivals among the Dems are a woman and a black man, and none of them can risk being labelled with the Bigot brush on either of those counts. (George Allen and Rick Lazio know this to their cost.) So they can't even be satisfyingly vitriolic across the fence.

    Another problem is that the media hasn't decided who the nominee will be. That is, they don't yet have The Story (i.e. "George Bush is a Compassionate Conservative, A Uniter Not A Divider, so let's focus on him–sorry, McCain, you got into the race too late to be anything more than a foil.") Of course, even becoming The Story won't get you the nomination–just ask Gary Hart.

    Let's break it down: The nomination was McCain's to lose. And he did, by foolishly hitching his wagon to Bush's least popular policy: the War. (A close runner-up would have been Social Security Reform.) So he's out, because in order to be consistent, he's got to stay 'on message' with a message no one wants to hear.

    Guiliani is still a possibility, simply because he's a celebrity-candidate–name recognition counts, and he's probably the most famous of the bunch. But if he wins the nod–by outlasting everyone else until the exhausted populace/pack of correspondents–look for him to receive the Swift Boating of all Swift Boatings. His only claim to the office is 9/11, and he's so incredibly vulnerable on that issue that Kucinich could beat him on that one.

    Mitt Romney, likewise, could just plain outlast the rest of the pack. He's saying all the right things right now, but he said all the *wrong* things a few years ago, so again, he's no winner. The Mormon factor will hurt him in key Southern states. On the whole, he seems like the kind of guy whom everyone agrees with, but nobody will vote for.

    I'm still thinking it'll be Thompson. Not but that you're right about the initial indifference, and I don't expect it to get any better. But if Reagan taught us anything, it's that the voters like a nice soothing candidate who looks the part, says comforting platitudes in a measured, grandfatherly tones–plus Thompson's got enough of a Good Ol' Boy vibe going to win over the Red staters who don't really pay much attention to policy. I think that folks will eventually gravitate to Thompson once he starts debating others, where–and here's where my predictions could fall completely flat, and I'll have to retract everything in shame–I think his cinematic background will make him *seem* like the guy you want to vote for. I think it'll be Thompson because, like Reagan, he looks and sounds the part. Inexperience and flat-out ignorance are not impediments to one's electability, as we know to our cost. Unless the American voter has suddenly realized, "Hey! I shouldn't vote for the guy I'd 'rather have a beer with' or 'rather drive cross-country with'," and I don't think he has, then Thompson will get it.

    So my rankings are Thompson, Guiliani, and Romney. But we're still so far away, and there's so many X-factors in play, that this is like trying to pick the Final Four. I'm essentially just offering one of many possible outcomes…

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