After two years of offering hesitant, qualified praise for Sarah Palin and her place in the GOP movement, conservatives are starting the process of putting daylight between themselves and their post-modern populist Prometheus. But there are some conservatives speaking out against this distancing with the message: hold up now, no one gets to walk away clean from this.
One of the magical aspects of presidential campaign coverage is that once the material facts of the day are dispensed with and their typical mundanity is absorbed, there's still about a million hours left to attempt all sorts of counterintuitive-sounding speculation. For instance, someone has to write the "maybe the smart move for presidential contenders in 2012 is to lose the election" piece. In the case of this election cycle, every political writer called "Not it!" until only one person remained.
Ensign's decision will touch off a series of changes to Nevada's political landscape. It places a newly elected Republican Representative in the driver's seat for a Senate promotion. It cracks the door ajar -- ever so slightly -- for a possible Democratic pickup. It provides the previously defeated Sharron Angle with a possible path to Washington, D.C. Jon Ralston is already tweeting up a storm, and why not? His studio is likely to be as popular a destination in 2012 as it was in 2010.