Mona Charen
Two new sets of Republicans are feeling deflated today -- the Chris Christie hopefuls and the Sarah Palin stalwarts. The Christie decision didn't surprise me, perhaps because I grew up in Jersey. In fact, Christie and I attended the same high school! Anyway, Jerseyans are many things (not all of them nice), but slick dissemblers we are not. When Christie said, repeatedly, and in ever more colorful terms, that he wasn't running, I believed him. And, while I understand the boomlet for him, I'm also a little relieved to see that he is indeed a truthful guy.

Sarah Palin, by contrast, has finally dropped the longest tease in the history of presidential politics. Her bus tours, her visits to Iowa and New Hampshire, her coy references to the importance of finding just the right candidate to challenge Obama (prompting predictable chants of "Run Sarah Run" from her audience), and her refusal to say whether she was in or out of the race. She could use some Jersey straight talk.

Still, there are a few diehards out there who cannot quite relinquish the pursuit of a knight errant. No sooner did Gov. Christie reconfirm that he will not be running for president than some of the great mentioners began to whisper that the "big donors" are encouraging Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., to make the race.

Sheesh. It is no reflection on Cantor to say that this is beginning to look desperate and even a little pathetic. I confess to having participated, to a point, by urging first Gov. Mitch Daniels (choir sounds please) and then Rep. Paul Ryan to run. But those pleas were in December 2010 and August 2011. It's too late now. The first primaries are only a few weeks away. (Bad move Florida, but oh, well.) Preparing to run a presidential race is just too complex. It takes months (and sometimes years) to assemble the local activists (also called the ground game), the money, the advisors, the advertising team, the speechwriters, the advance men and the other necessities of modern campaigning.

Additionally, the candidate him or herself has to bone up on dozens of issues so as not to be caught flat-footed in debates (some of the current crop neglected that part). No one can do all of that at this late date.

So realistically, we have our field of candidates, and we're going to have to settle for one of them.

Yes, settle. I'm disappointed too that my favorites decided to sit this out. And I wish the Palestinians really wanted peace, that Vladimir Putin were a democrat and that the San Andreas Fault would go quiet. But part of being a conservative, I believe, is taking the world as you find it and dealing with it.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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