Joe Klein speaks for many, I suspect:
This is my 10th presidential campaign, Lord help me. I have never before seen such a bunch of vile, desperate-to-please, shameless, embarrassing losers coagulated under a single party’s banner. They are the most compelling argument I’ve seen against American exceptionalism. Even Tim Pawlenty, a decent governor, can’t let a day go by without some bilious nonsense escaping his lizard brain. And, as Greg Sargent makes clear, Mitt Romney has wandered a long way from courage. There are those who say, cynically, if this is the dim-witted freak show the Republicans want to present in 2012, so be it. I disagree. One of them could get elected. You never know. Mick Huckabee, the front-runner if you can believe it, might have to negotiate a trade agreement, or a defense treaty, with the Indonesian president some day. Newt might have to discuss very delicate matters of national security with the president of Pakistan. And so I plead, as an unflinching American patriot — please Mitch Daniels, please Jeb Bush, please run. I may not agree with you on most things, but I respect you. And you seem to respect yourselves enough not to behave like public clowns.
Personally, I’d be shocked if Jeb Bush runs, because he’s smart enough to know that Bush fatigue is a major obstacle and because he has made no noises to date about a candidacy.
I also won’t be shocked if Mitch Daniels declines. The cast of characters that Klein describes as “a bunch of vile, desperate-to-please, shameless, embarrassing losers” hasn’t assembled itself accidentally. They have materialized because that’s what the GOP base demands at the moment. This is an electorate motivated for the most part by resentment, fear and paranoia, and it’s looking for candidates willing to tell them that their resentment, fear and paranoia are fully justified. At this point, whoever does that best will probably be the nominee.
I doubt Daniels can play that game very well. That’s not who he is, and unlike Mitt Romney, he doesn’t seem willing to pretend otherwise. In weighing whether to run, Daniels has to decide whether a very different, more sober message has a chance to be heard in this environment.
If he decides the answer is no, there’s no market for what he has to sell, it will say more about the state of the modern Republican Party than anything from Joe Klein or other pundits.
– Jay Bookman