Mitch Daniels’ decision to forgo the presidential race is personally understandable and even laudable: His wife and four daughters would much prefer that he not run. And Daniels understands the gross invasions of privacy that a presidential race would entail not just for him, but for his family.
But although personally understandable, Daniels’ decision to opt out speaks to a much larger problem for the GOP in 2012: Its best and brightest candidates seem to be imploding (Newt), seriously flawed politically (Romney), lackluster (Pawlenty), or ducking this race altogether (Rubio, Ryan and Christie).
But you can’t beat something with nothing, as the political pros like to say. And the question is: who has the political strength, wherewithal and determination to take on and unseat Obama?
In all candor, I’m not sure that anyone does — and I’m not alone. Over at the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol didn’t waste any time publishing a post declaring that, in the wake of Daniels’ decision not to run, the race is now wide open; and that candidates can even wait until Thanksgiving (!) to enter the fray.
Kristol tries to put the best face possible on the GOP’s rather desperate presidential predicament. Still, you can hear in his spin the plaintive cries of a GOP establishment that is increasingly worried about 2012.
Say what you will about Obama, but at least he was willing to risk his political career for an all-out run at the presidency. And this at a time when all of the “experts” said he couldn’t win.
Yes, Obama had that proverbial “fire in his belly.” And so he mounted a very impressive, historic and winning campaign for the Presidency of the United States. Would that any of the GOP contenders (and prospective contenders) had that same zeal and determination to win.
Instead, though, Republican heavyweights (such as Mike Huckabee) seem more content to sit on the sidelines and make a lot of money while appearing on Fox.
Of course, the one candidate who does seem quite willing to take the fight to Obama is Sarah Palin. “I want to make sure that America’s put back on the right track, and we can only do that by defeating Obama in 2012,” she thundered earlier this week. “I have that fire in my belly.”
Bully for Sarah. Like Margaret Thatcher, she seems to have more testosterone than most of her competitors. Unfortunately, unlike Margaret Thatcher, she isn’t a serious or credible candidate, because she hasn’t taken the time to develop and demonstrate sufficient gravitas and fluency on the great and pressing issues.
So, bottom line, where does this leave the GOP field? In a state of disarray and confusion. Houston, we have a problem.