A political campaign is like a wedding or the launch of a space vehicle in that the planning and activity starts sometimes years in advance, reaches a frenzied pitch in the last days before the event, then it all stops with "I do," the "The vehicles has cleared the tower," or, "We're reassessing."
We assume, if none of the parties to the marriage are named Kardashian, the happy couple will settle down to years of house holding and child rearing while the florists, caterers, drivers, and bride's maids go back to their regular lives.
Having handed control of a space launch over to mission control in Houston, the launch planners likewise turn in their three-ring binders and start the count-down clock for the next mission.
A political campaign that ends, often ends suddenly, and completely.
In the case of Rep. Michele Bachmann, there will be a few weeks of winding down; collecting cell phones and matching rental car records to states in which staffers were supposed to have been working but, that will be handled by the back office staff.
For the political staff - media, organization, strategy, and advance - for them it goes from Overdrive to Park in the blink of an eye. It's over.
I was around some Rick Perry supporters in Des Moines the other night when he announced he would be going back to Austin, instead of South Carolina to do the deadly "reassessment." They looked shocked and wounded.
That reassessment lasted about 10 hours before he decided that the remaining field wasn't strong enough to force him out so he saddled up and headed back out.
I hadn't known that Bachmann had called a press conference Wednesday morning until I got calls from a number of reporters in my hotel room asking what I thought. I had been on the set of a morning news program so, of course, I had no idea what was going on.
Similarly, I wasn't aware that Perry had finished that reassessin' thang when, while changing planes in Atlanta en route home to Reagan National when I had about 13 missed calls from reporters asking me what I thought.
Here's what I said:
I lived in Dallas for most of the 90's. Texans don't go in much for navel-gazing. Reassessing to a Texan means throwing open the swinging doors to the saloon; ambling in, spurs a-jingling; sitting down; telling the other players you found a fella who paid you cash money for your horse; so, "Deal."
A staffer for one of the other campaigns told me the night of the caucuses that they were committed to staying in the contest through January. That's 25 days away and plenty of time to make plans to get the staff home from Tallahassee or Palm Beach.