We don't need another hero. No seriously—we don't.
Can you feel the heartburn? The twinges of panic? From Politico
From The Weekly Standard to The Wall Street Journal, on the pages of policy periodicals and opinion sections, the egghead right’s longing for a presidential candidate of ideas — first Mitch Daniels, then Paul Ryan — has been endless, intense and unrequited. [...]
The problem, in shorthand: To many conservative elites, Rick Perry is a dope, Michele Bachmann is a joke and Mitt Romney is a fraud.
They don’t publicly express their judgments in such harsh terms, but the low regard is obvious: The Journal’s editorial board, the bible of conservative intellectual orthodoxy, pretty much excommunicated Romney from the movement in May for his health care sins. Then, last week, the editorial board suggested that Bachmann and Perry couldn’t be elected, and that “now would be the time” for “someone still off the field to step up.”
I'd say that's a pretty good summary. Watching Perry's 15 minutes of fame come and go was a sight to behold: first, Republicans were all but pleading for him to get in the race. Then they heard him talk.
After that, the race was on once again: who, oh who will save us from our current crop of candidates—people like crazy Rick Perry?
If conservative "elites" are unhappy with their presidential options, they have only themselves to blame. For years, anyone insufficiently orthodox has been hounded out of office. The number of litmus tests each candidate must pass, many of them contradictory (e.g. keep the government away from my Medicare; we demand tax cuts and deficit reduction, etc.) all but assures that only the worst panderers, liars or crazy people will be able to survive. When Ron Freaking Paul looks to be among the more rational members of your presidential Superfriends, you may have a problem.
So who could the conservative establishment put up that wouldn't be perceived as either a crackpot or a joke, and who could make it through their own primaries? Nobody they might want is dumb enough to enter the race, because they know they would be bludgeoned for any past position they have ever had that showed even a bit of nuance. Believe in science? Believe in the people electing their senators directly? Believe healthcare for citizens is actually a problem that government should attempt to solve? Have you ever in your life been quoted as saying that a slight increase in taxes corporations pay would not, in fact, be an economic apocalypse? Well, that's great—now get out. Because the base, having been fed exclusively red meat from their "conservative elites" for years now (as an electoral strategy, mind you) isn't going to have any of that nonsense. They want their meat red and their politicians frothing: that is what every outlet from the Wall Street Journal to Fox News, and from Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh to the "intellectual" Charles Krauthammer reliably demanded.
Now you're going to expect that same base to tolerate someone "serious," someone whose own history of government action might have traces of heretical nuance, or "Ivy league" intellectualism, or even—shudder—the begrudging admission of uncomfortable scientific facts, after your decade-long policy of publicly belittling and excommunicating any candidate who expressed any of those things? Yeah, good luck with that.