Kathryn Lopez

For what it's worth, I wouldn't even put money on Rudy running. I'm a Manhattan gal and I'll admit there was an undeniable change when he was mayor: On some important urban issues his record is clear and a success story. Rudy, though, before he was "America's mayor," showing real leadership in the wake of 9/11, was not an obvious candidate for a national Republican ticket. As a Washington Post reporter has put it, "Those who think that the 9/11 hero would be a formidable candidate are forgetting about the 9/10 Rudy. Meaning, this is a guy who is pro-choice on abortion, pro-gay rights and moved in with a gay couple after a messy breakup with his wife that came as he was dating another woman."

In time, all will become clear. Rudy won't play in Peoria -- and he knows it. McCain, who is already sniping at Romney, will vie with the governor for the nomination. And a wild card like Newt Gingrich may try to spoil the otherwise two-man contest.

There are just over a dozen months now until the Iowa Caucus. But as the example of George Allen demonstrates, a lot can happen in far less time than that. The Republican senator from Virginia was long presumed among the 2008 favorites. Essentially, he and Romney would be dueling to challenge McCain for frontrunner status going into the Republican primaries. But when what was supposed to be a relatively easy reelection contest for him this year went awry thanks to a mix of Allen bungling and old stories about racism as a college kid, his presidential prospects were murdered both by his own hand and by a relentlessly hostile media. Few would have predicted that just last spring.

Still, as the social lives and chosen company of hopefuls makes clear, if your work is getting one of these guys elected, the election might as well be tomorrow.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.