While in Israel I’ve still tried to follow conservative commentary about the 2012 race, and I’ve been relieved to finally see some good pushback against the absurd “weak field” meme that’s been dominating the discussion. Ramesh Ponnuru and Jay Cost make the entirely sensible point that popular conservative governors (Romney, Pawlenty, and Huntsman) with solid records aren’t “weak” opponents for Barack Obama — especially if the economy stays where it is, with high unemployment, weak growth, and catastrophic deficits.
But of course the summer before the race really starts is the silly season for conservatives who yearn for their political messiah. As Ponnuru notes, the yearnings of ’07 turned into the disappointing real-life candidacy of Fred Thompson (in hindsight, I feel sorry for Fred; no one could have fulfilled all the expectations placed on his shoulders).
You would hope that America would have learned some hard lessons after the fevered idealism of the Obama campaign — where a near-religious fervor whipped Democratic voters into an emotional frenzy. Listening to some conservatives, I fear they’ve learned the wrong lesson: that they need a frenzy of their own.