My own view is that Republicans would have been better served by the candidacies of Mitch Daniels, Paul Ryan or Chris Christie. Unfortunately, none is running. You play the hand you’re dealt. This is a weak Republican field with two significantly flawed front-runners contesting an immensely important election. If Obama wins, he will take the country to a place from which it will not be able to return (which is precisely his own objective for a second term).
Every conservative has thus to ask himself two questions: Who is more likely to prevent that second term? And who, if elected, is less likely to unpleasantly surprise?
I guess it's fair to say that Krauthammer is not so subtly saying: it's Romney.
The GOP Presidential race is essentially boiling down to be Romney versus Not-Romney. The race to be the Not-Romney candidate is where the action is, obviously. But most of the Not-Romney pretenders are done, finished, stick a fork in them.
Huntsman - for a Not-Romney, he's too much like Romney. In fact, he's a Super-Romney. If we nominate him, why not just vote for the Democrat. Not going to fly.
Santorum - for whatever reason, has never caught on. Personality? Appearance? Whatever. I think he's a strong conservative, he has good experience, and he's a good man and strongly pro-Life. But if he hasn't flown by now, he's not going to.
Johnson - Who?
Paul - in a word, no. Weirdness is a disqualifier.
Bachmann - improving, but she exposed her own weirdness in the summer with the Gardasil/vaccination stuff. That's a fringe issue, right up there with the 1950s fluoridation scare. And she's a woman. Like it or not, we're not electing a woman anytime soon unless her name is Margaret Thatcher.
Cain - he'll have plenty of time to fool around after today, when his wife tells him to abandon his campaign or face a big divorce suit. Speaking of suits, his was empty from the get-go, and his candidacy was a matter of conservative voters projecting their fondest hopes on him. He's not Thomas Sowell, in other words, not even close.
So where does that leave us? Gingrich or Perry. The Great Debater versus The Worst Debater. Gingrich with a lot of baggage; Perry with real executive experience and a great story to tell from Texas. Gingrich with big but sometimes too-big ideas, ideas for the sake of ideas; Perry with conservative bona fides. Will Perry get another look after his implosions in the debates? Or will we select our candidate the way a high school debate club selects its President, based on arguably a superficial criterion -- who can most fluently deliver canned responses?
Or will we end up back where we started with a hold-your-nose Romney candidacy?