But is that really such a high benchmark? Look who he's up against. We can exclude dear old Ron Paul for reasons I covered four years ago (although I might upgrade the line about "the faint whiff of paranoid states-rights bigotry" to something a bit stronger), and the various loons and no-hopers have helpfully cleared off, leaving a field of Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Even of these, Santorum looks like a busted flush - he's lost the battle to be the social conservative representative. So it's really Mitt v Newt. Matt Taibi gives a handy shorthand comparitor here:
If Romney is a scripted automaton who could make it through a year's worth of marital coitus without one spontaneous utterance, Gingrich is his exact opposite – taken prisoner in war, Newt would be blabbing state secrets without torture within minutes, and minutes after that would be calling his guards idiots who lack his nuanced grasp of European history, and minutes after that would be lying to two of his captors about an affair he had with the third.
As Sherlock Holmes almost said, "when you eliminate the impossible, whoever is left, however uninspiring, must be the candidate". The Republicans had better hope that Barack Obama finds running on his record a lot harder than 'all that hopey-changey stuff'.