The last thing you want to think about right now is the 2012 GOP primary calendar, but I am afraid you have to, if you want the RNC chairmanship contest to have meaning and the GOP to have a good chance of recapturing the White House four years down the road. Each would-be RNC leader should be asked about the 2012 presidential primaries they will be overseeing. Specific questions need to be posed, and concrete answers delivered.
The RNC must begin now to consider overhauling the presidential nominating process three years hence for the simple reason that the process as it stands now is extremely vulnerable to manipulation by hard-left activists of the Democrats who, when 2012 rolls around (or late 2011 given the acceleration in primary season we witnessed in this cycle) will want to advantage President Obama by forcing the nomination of the weakest GOP candidate. They almost certainly won't have their own primary in which to participate, and they won't want to waste any opportunity to help re-elect President Obama.
Rush Limbaugh demonstrated the ease with which relatively small numbers of hyper-activists can invade and distort the other party's nomination process when he ran the very successful and very entertaining "Operation Chaos" in the spring of 2008. America's Anchorman urged conservatives to register as Democrats and vote for Hillary in the Ohio and Pennsylvania Democratic primaries and elsewhere, and they did, in large numbers, adding considerably to Obama's political woes at the time. Rush started up Operation Chaos late, but had he begun early and wanted to nominate Hillary, he could have.
The real service El Rushbo delivered via Operation Chaos, though, was to illustrate the danger ahead for the GOP if it fails to act now to build defenses against a reverse Operation Chaos in the next presidential cycle.
Flash forward to the summer of 2011: President Obama is beleaguered and his approval numbers are in the low 30s. Taxes are high, inflation is high, unemployment is high, and the markets have never recovered from the post-election sell-off. Oil is back in triple digits, and the Taliban have seized large portions of Pakistan and threaten the central government there. Iran went nuclear in 2010 and threatens Israel on a weekly basis. President Obama's press conferences are painful to listen to, his inability to act decisively has earned him the title "ditherer-in-chief."