03/01/2007 11:20 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Long-Shot Hagel May Be Republicans' Best Bet

Republicans are in a funk -- the more conservative the Republican, the deeper the funk.

In presidential politics, they are accustomed to falling in line, if not in love, early. And the last time there was anything but bunting, Sousa music and handholding at a convention was in 1976.

If only they could take John McCain's gung-ho militarism, Sam Brownback's evangelical fervor, Mitt Romney's looks (a recently discovered consultant's memo worries that his hair is too perfect), and a month from the life of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani -- the one starting 9/11/01 -- they would have a perfect candidate.

Not that each of the frontrunners hasn't tried self- improvement, shedding some original equipment in favor of replacement parts.

McCain dropped his disregard for ``agents of intolerance'' and truckled to the Christian right. He's paid a price for that with independents, even as he's failed to allay the party base's suspicions. McCain also decided he liked the president, after all, but that's a bigger liability with each passing day.

It's not in Giuliani's nature to truckle, and it would be fruitless anyway -- he's way too pro-choice; way too pro-gay, and way, way too much in favor of marrying until you get it right. He has decided to coast on 9/11 and a newfound affection for placing strict constructionists on the court.

Romney replaced all movable parts. His transformation is so complete as to be totally unbelievable.

Read the whole column here.