Republican politicians like to talk a lot about American decline. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, for instance, recently warned that Democrats have "declared war on marriage, on families, on fertility, and on faith." (Fertility!). Newt Gingrich went even further, suggesting that Obama's agenda "would mean the end of America as it has been for the last 400 years."
Now, it looks like the new era of American Unexceptionalism is starting to take its toll in the Republican Party. Here's Politico's Jonathan Martin:
Interviews on both sides of the Capitol have revealed widespread concern about the lackluster quality of the current crop of candidates and little consensus on who Republican senators and House members would like to see in the race.
While the days when congressional insiders could determine a party nominee are long gone, their open grumbling lays bare a broadly held sentiment within the GOP.
"I don't see anyone in the current field right now, and people say that to me, as well. I'm reflecting what I hear," said California Rep. David Dreier, chairman of the House Rules Committee.
We just don't make smart, charismatic presidential candidates like we used to.
So what's the solution? Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has been floated as a potential candidate—and he's expressed dissatisfaction with the current field—but I'm not sure Americans are going to rally behind someone who thinks gays should be banned from teaching in public schools. Marco Rubio's been called the "Cuban Barack Obama," but he's only been in the Senate for three months. Martin's sources say they're considering "a to-be-determined business executive or military leader"—but Dwight D. Eisenhower's dead (not to mention term-limited), and David Petraeus says he's not interested.
It's still, of course, very early. Mike Huckabee is leading the polls in Iowa and he's probably not running; Donald Trump is in third. But it's never a good sign for your electoral chances when party bigwigs are publicly bashing your candidates before the first debate has even been held.