The announcement by Haley Barbour that he will not seek the 2012 GOP presidential nomination was a bit of a disappointment, and I mean that seriously.
No, I donâ€™t think Barbour would have made a good president, and I doubt he would even have been a top contender for the nomination. But he did have â€” how should I put this? â€” an appreciation for basic reality and seriousness that too many other candidates in the GOP field do not.
At one point in their careers, the same could have been said of Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney, but since those two former governors volunteered for Extreme Makeover, Political Edition, theyâ€™ve emerged almost unrecognizable and have repudiated their former selves. Iâ€™m not sure who they are anymore, and Iâ€™m not sure they know who they are.
The only remaining potential candidate with a firm grounding in this factual universe is Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. While I wouldnâ€™t vote for him against President Obama, I could certainly envision Daniels as president without fearing for the future of my country. And I canâ€™t say that about the rest of the GOP field.
So Iâ€™m hoping Daniels runs, both for the good of the Republican Party and for the country, but he clearly has some misgivings. (Heâ€™s expected to announce his decision in the next week or two). I have to wonder whether Danielsâ€™ misgivings might have increased in the last few weeks as he watched the clownish Donald Trump rise rapidly in the GOP polls.
Someone such as Daniels would be the anti-Trump, presumably unwilling to pander to the birtherism and Islamaphobia rampant on the right. Given the current environment, he has reason to question just how much of a market there might be for what he has to offer.
â€“ Jay Bookman