George Will actually made sense today as he ripped Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee for trying to Mau Mau the president. His conclusion is also accurate:
Let us not mince words. There are at most five plausible Republican presidents on the horizon – Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Utah governor and departing ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Massachusetts governor Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.
So the Republican winnowing process is far advanced. But the nominee may emerge much diminished by involvement in a process cluttered with careless, delusional, egomaniacal, spotlight-chasing candidates to whom the sensible American majority would never entrust a lemonade stand, much less nuclear weapons.
What’s probably worrying Will is not just that a “plausible” candidate will get “diminished” by standing on the same stage with Gingrich or Huckabee or Palin. He’s got to be worried as hell that the Republican electorate will not nominate a “plausible” candidate at all. Despite running as hard as he can away from RomneyCare and calling for the repeal of ObamaCare, it’s very hard to see how Mitt Romney can win primaries and caucuses when the number one issue is the tyranny of health care plans like the one he created in Massachusetts. Jon Huntsman didn’t create the template for federal health care reform, but he did something almost as bad. He accepted a job as Ambassador to China in the Obama administration. He’s known as a moderate, which is not a good thing to be when running for the GOP’s top ticket line. Plus, can two nearly identical Mormons avoid splitting the vote and handing some more conservative candidate the ring?
As for Tim Pawlenty, you might as well tell me that Cris Collingsworth is going to be president. Check that. At least Collingsworth was a pretty good football player. T-Paw is as tough as cookie dough. No one is going to hand him the nuclear suitcase. They just aren’t. Every inch of him screams “man who wouldn’t stick up for his wife.”
That leaves Govs. Mitch Daniels and Haley Barbour. I haven’t seen any real indication that Daniels is going to run. But he decided it would be a good idea to call for a truce on social issues (meaning God and gays and abortion, mainly) to focus on economic issues. How’s that gonna work in Steve King’s Iowa? Daniels might be able to overcome that faux pas, but I don’t see how.
As for Haley Barbour, if you think America is going to throw out Barack Obama for a guy who didn’t think Jim Crow was that bad in his home state of Mississippi, then you basically think we’re headed for the worst disaster this country has faced since the Civil War broke out. I’m concerned about the direction of our country, but I don’t see that happening in 2012. Haley Barbour only seems plausible inside the Beltway where he is well known as a back-slapping high-paid lobbyist for unpopular causes.
Someone has to win though, right? Yeah. But not the presidency, just the nomination. If things get as weird as I think they’re going to get, we might even see someone that no one is thinking about come out of the blue to win the race. Not The Donald, of course. It would have to be someone “plausible.”