Following last night's debate, Bret Stephens of the WSJ throws in the towel on the current Republican offerings:
The GOP Deserves to Lose
That's what happens when you run with losers.
...Above all, it doesn't matter that Americans are generally eager to send Mr. Obama packing. All they need is to be reasonably sure that the alternative won't be another fiasco. But they can't be reasonably sure, so it's going to be four more years of the disappointment you already know.
As for the current GOP field, it's like confronting a terminal diagnosis. There may be an apparent range of treatments: conventional (Romney), experimental (Gingrich), homeopathic (Paul) or prayerful (Santorum). But none will avail you in the end. Just try to exit laughing.
For months now, even as the rest of the conservative commentariat has gradually resigned itself to the existing presidential field, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol has continued to pine — publicly, unstintingly, immune to either embarrassment or fatigue— for another candidate to jump into the race....
And do you know what? He’s been right all along. Right that the decisions by various capable Republicans to forgo a presidential run this year have been a collective disgrace; right that Republican primary voters deserve a better choice than the one being presented to them; and right, as well, that even now it isn’t too late for one of the non-candidates to change their mind and run.
...Contrary to what some of my more excitable colleagues in the press corps have been claiming, the weekend’s results didn’t demonstrate that Newt Gingrich could actually win the Republican nomination, or prove that Mitt Romney could actually lose to him. (Yes, I’m still on the “against this field, Mitt’s inevitable” bandwagon: More on that anon.) But the last week was a reminder, after months in which the incompetence of his rivals made him look better than he is, that Romney remains a tremendously weak frontrunner, whose strengths don’t compensate for a style that leaves conservatives cold and a background that will leave him open to attacks across a variety of Democratic-friendly fronts in the general election. I don’t think he can lose the primary, and I still give him decent odds of winning in November. But those judgments have everything to do with his political environment, and very little to do with the man himself. And under such circumstances, it seems absurd and pathetic that both the party and the country won’t have the chance to consider another option besides Newt the Great and Terrible.