There’s been a lot of commentary about how weak the GOP’s presidential field is, including by me.
And so I’d offer a qualifier to my own analysis: what matters in the end isn’t how strong the field is, but how strong the eventual nominee is. It’s quite easy to get caught up in the moment and worry third-tier candidates will discredit a political party. But the party is judged by the nominee it produces, not by the candidates who were defeated.
For example, in 1992 the Democratic field included Jerry Brown, Paul Tsongas, Tom Harkin, Doug Wilder, and former Irvine, California, Mayor Larry Agran (you can look it up)–hardly imposing or impressive figures. Yet the person who eventually emerged, Bill Clinton, won the election (and re-election) by a comfortable margin.
That doesn’t mean those of us who comment on politics should offer, in real time, our views about the merits and demerits of the GOP candidates. It simply means all but one of them will (mostly) fade from our memory soon enough.
The key question is whether the person the Republican Party chooses to run against Barack Obama will acquit himself well. And that’s what the primary process is supposed to determine. We’ll see how well it does this time around.