Each candidate has strengths and weaknesses, but one common problem, as my National Review colleague Jim Geraghty notes, is the growing phenomenon of the pundit-candidate. Gingrich and Huckabee (also Sarah Palin, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and radio host Herman Cain to name a few) have created cottage industries for themselves as commentators. That helps with name ID (and book sales), but it also overexposes and diminishes them by forcing them to comment at length on subjects where silence would be golden. Huckabee's bizarre pandering to so-called birthers and to the Natalie Portman-haters' caucus is a perfect example of the problem.
Still, Huckabee and Gingrich's bouts of verbal incontinence notwithstanding, conservatives are united on the core economic and policy issues. That consensus will undoubtedly manifest itself in the primaries.
And isn't that what primaries are for? Let the voters use their own winnowing forks. It's not like the GOP has a history of nominating irresponsible firebrands. And the two nominees who were so labeled by the political establishment -- Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan -- are the soul of the GOP today, for "tea partyers" and establishmentarians alike.
Ultimately the election will largely be a referendum on Obama and the economy. The desire to order off-menu will abate over time. And Republicans will surely stomach the nominee, if for no other reason than they're ravenous to make Obama a one-termer. And, as the Irish say, hunger is the best sauce.
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