For many, many weeks, we’ve been told the same old story: no matter who joins the GOP field, no matter how many different varieties of candidate there are on offer, it’s never been good enough for anyone.
This was the story in April, in May, in June, and in August. (We’re guessing it was the same way in July, while we were on vacation.) “The field of candidates suck, send us someone new, and, no, Tim Pawlenty, we’re not interested.”
Mostly, voters were paying attention to the pundits, and the pundits had arranged the field into three piles of undesirables: fringies that no one should pay attention to, the unelectable and “people named Mitt Romney.” Had some sort of savior candidate jumped into the race this week, you can imagine the frantic headlines: “Paul Ryan Shakes Up The Field Like An Earthquake!” Or, “Chris Christie Enters Race Like A Hurricane!” That the political press would gravitate toward metaphors reflecting the disasters du jour would be a matter of little notice.
But a funny thing started to happen this week. As the possibilities of future entrants diminished, and as the GOP base and conservative-leaning independent voters started to get more and more personally engaged with the race, the view of the field from street level changed: “An Associated Press-GfK poll released recently found that two-thirds of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents are pleased with the party’s presidential field, compared with just half in June.” Could it be that the weak field was just a media contrivance? Is it possible that all the real pissing and moaning over the need for a Jeb Bush or a Marco Rubio in the mix was just an obsession of elite, establishment pundits?
Yes, and yes.