Working our way through 2011, we've obviously started edging up on the beginnings of the 2012 Presidential election season, and thus far, all I have seen the Republicans present as potential candidates is a veritable "who's who of in God's name why?"
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (pictured at left) became the first to take any kind of formal action, launching an exploratory committee, but let's look at the other possible challengers:
Ron Paul/Newt Gingrich: As for the Texas congressman, I doubt very much he will consider another Presidential run. He established his indie/libertarian cult following in his 1988 campaign, and elevated it to near-rock star status in 2008 (yeah, he didn't win, but he probably played a bigger part in his son nabbing a U.S. Senate seat than anyone will grant), but all the added momentum will not result in any kind of increased numbers for Paul in the primaries, despite his victory in the CPAC straw poll recently. I see Paul settling into more of a statement-making role with his seniority in the current congressional majority.
As for Gingrich, this has to be the second biggest gimmick candidacy of 2012, right behind Donald Trump's maybe/maybe not act as of present, and my own 2012 ElectMyAss.com candidacy. Gingrich just wants to shore up the measure of his own value and legitimacy in the conservative movement. Nothing more. He'll be back on the rubber chicken circuit hawking books in no time.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour: Seriously? Not even in an old In The Heat of The Night rerun would this guy be a viable presidential contender. If he were a comedian, I'd call him a brilliant parody of old clueless white guys in the South. But he's not a comedian, and there is nothing funny about the guy.
Mitt Romney: Personally, I thought the smartest thing for Romney and the GOP would have been a push for Romney to head the RNC. He's a lot less controversial than Michael Steele was and a hell of a lot better known than what's-his-face that's got the job at present. Having said that, I just cannot for the life of me see how Romney's gonna get past the socialized medicine disaster he wrought upon Massachusetts during his tenure as their Governor. I know that's a pretty standard argument against Romney, but maybe if he were to pull off some big-time private sector moves, he could lessen the glare of that particular multi-billion dollar black mark.
Sarah Palin/Michelle Bachmann: Okay, I know eventually I would make it to these two women. I could be very diplomatic in how I explain that when it comes to the Presidency of the United States, neither woman is capable, viable, and most importantly - electable. Truth is, flat-out, neither of this dingbats stand half a chance in a frozen hell to win. Sarah Palin alone set back the idea of even a female VP for decades to come, and Michelle Bachmann can out-crazy Palin on Palin's best day, and that's without benefit of shooting anything from a helicopter or reading every publication on the planet on a daily basis. A vote for either of these two is not only a vote wasted, but a slap in the face to the notion of serious roles for women in politics.
Mike Huckabee: Sorry, Mike, but not even the legendary, awe-inspiring powers of Chuck Norris will get you anywhere close to winning the White House in 2012. Keep on doing that talk show thing. Only seen it a couple of times, but you seem like you are having fun doing it. Stay the course, Mike, and off the campaign trail.
There's been a lot of speculation of as late about Sen. Rand Paul, who recently said the only decision he had come to was not to run against his dad. While Paul is booking promotional appearances for his new book in key primary states, he simply will not have had enough governmental experience or stroke, regardless of the level of his popularity (tea party or otherwise). A strong first term, would help his chances in 2016, perhaps, or maybe even a successful re-election bid would make him an even more attractive candidate in 2020.
The bottom line here appears to be the underwhelming selection of candidates the Republicans have to choose from. Is the problem the GOP's upper tier is comfortable at present, and would rather attempt to run against eight years of Democratic rule in the White House by fielding the weakest of those talking the loudest?
At any rate, I hope the independents are truly paying attention, as this is looking to be the single biggest opportunity to shock the system and put a third party in the mix. That is going to be the only way to actually start making progress in this worsening quagmire we call government as usual.