INTERESTING how this seems to be the week when Beltway insiders have decided to start the Republican Presidential campaign, with or without Republican Presidential candidates.
Perhaps it was last week's GOP "Presidential" debate, dwarfish even by US Presidential campaign standards, which set them off. (The Villagers sure seem to take an almost proprietary interest in Republican national politics, don't they? The worst of right-wing buffoonery, the idea of Herman Cain winning a debate, or the appearance that the Republican base might actually agree with the unwashed tripe served up by FOX News, or talk radio--which the Villagers, in the main, do not--really brings out the demands that things get serious, or "serious", as though there'd be a marked difference between Cain and McCain administrations.) The unwilling, indolent, but semi-dedicated Daniels watcher, for example, has been pummeled daily by the Dailies; between the He'd Add Seriousness routine (Ruth Marcus climbs on board this morning) and the sudden, sui generis interest in the Daniels' marriage (the Times, the Post, this and that, all of which manage to say nothing at whatever length) just before Cheri's roll-out last night, where she wowed 'em with her cow-milking tales from the Indiana State Fair, you couldn't swing a cat this week without hitting Mitch Daniels, unless you took care to swing it a minimum of five feet off the ground.
Marcus, who says she couldn't imagine actually voting for Daniels, nevertheless thinks his Seriousness would make Obama a better candidate, thus raising the question of the last time she, or anyone else, was justified in believing Serious Issues actually enter into one of our Presidential campaigns, let alone make either candidate "better". I'm going with Grant-Greeley.
Despite all the grudging it requires, I respect the job Team Daniels has done to this point, considering the hand they have to work with. They shoehorned a malignant and diminutive wonk into Lamar Alexander's Jes' Folks campaign, and even found a plaid shirt that would fit him, with the result that, five years later, Rich Lowry would tell the world (ha ha! He told readers of National Review! Exaggeration for comic effect) what an authentic consumer of fried pork and pig feed Daniels was, even though no one with passing familiarity of the genre could possibly believe it. Following his proposal, ten minutes after his first inauguration, to raise income taxes on the top earners in Indiana in order to pay to reduce the "deficit" and burnish his combover, Team Daniels saw to it the man never spoke extemporaneously in public again. After a couple months of watching him lunge across tables or run down city streets to grasp the kneecaps of hecklers, they saw to it no one with anything over a 12 handicap would ever get within a hundred yards of him again, save Fairgoers and photo-op truck-stop waitresses, widely spaced. Their man somehow went from Bush popularity ratings in 2007 to a landslide victory only partly explained by his opponent's non-existence and his own enormous war chest. The Post marriage article has Daniels' opponents running from his "intellectual heft"; this for a man whose five favorite books are Atlas Shrugged.
And as anyone who lived through the Reagan administration knows, you can obscure a man's record to the point of unrecognizability, but it's tough hiding his wife. So far they're doing the avoidance therapy thing with her, which may or may not work out, but there seems to be a real concern about the marriage history thing, like either 1) there's some there there, or 2) there's some concern about Mrs. Daniels being able to handle it. And someone seems to be living in a dream world where Cheri just stays home through a Presidential campaign the way she did a couple Indiana gubernatorial races, then milks cows on the South Lawn for four years. For now the Insiders are content to chew on Mitt (flip-flopper) and Newt (flipped out), but at some point the little man's gonna have to come out and campaign (just like Fred Dumbo Thompson), and nationally "it's a love story for the ages" isn't gonna fly any further than "can I get extra French's on that corndog?"