The John Thune Era?

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Christine O’Donnell’s primary victory led a lot of people to start immediately proclaiming Sarah Palin to be the 2012 GOP Presidential frontrunner. I think there are a bunch of logical leaps you have to make to get there and thus agree with Ross Douthat that this seems unlikely. What’s more, if you—like me—have a sneaking suspicion that Republican presidential nominations are settled in secret by some shady cabal of conservative elites, then you should probably figure that said elites have some way of communicating their intentions to conservative New York Times columnists. And speaking of conservative New York Times columnists, remember that time about a year ago when for no clear reason whatsoever David Brooks wrote a column touting the virtues of mediocre back-bench Senator John Thune of South Dakotoa?

Well guess who Intrade punters have listed tied with Palin behind Mitt Romney? Why it’s a random Senator from South Dakota with a very square jaw, no record of accomplishments, and the ability to wrack up a monotonic record of orthodox conservative Republicanism without having said anything newsmakingly insane.

This plays into Jonathan Bernstein’s question for liberals about which member of the GOP field do we think would do the best job. This blog doesn’t endorse candidates for office, but it’s no secret that I voted for him in 2002 and whatever bad things you can legitimately say about him (and there are many), I do think we can also see that he can be an effective public servant if and when he wants to. Palin, obviously, is the devil we know. Then there’s the Mitch Daniels / Tim Pawlenty / Jeb Bush troika, all of whom the smarter conservatives out there insist are impressive though their public proclamations on national issues don’t particularly reflect it.

And then there’s Thune who seems like the real menace, if only because the tendency to converge on him is so lacking in obvious rationale.