Kristol still pining for more options

Just a few weeks ago, Bill Kristol argued that it’s still not too late for “a late entry” in the Republican presidential race, and that he sees “a window of opportunity in February.” The Weekly Standard editor is apparently hoping for a ticket with Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, in that order.

Today, Kristol is at it again, writing a message to “the Republicans of the states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida,” letting them know that their primary and caucus votes will, among other things, affect “whether others will feel impelled to enter the race.”

Though the column isn’t entirely about this fanciful dream, Kristol’s piece went on to say:

[I]t is a moment, as you prepare to cast your vote, for others to reflect on whether they don’t owe it to their country to step forward. As this is no time for voters to choose fecklessly, it is no time for leaders to duck responsibility. Those who have stood aside — and who now may have concluded, as they may not have when they announced their original decision, that the current field is lacking — will surely hear the words of Thomas Paine echoing down the centuries: “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

Now is not a time for leaders to engage in clever calculations of the odds of success, or to succumb to concerns about how they will look if they enter the fray and fall short. Now is a time to come to the aid of our country.

Kristol, at least in this new piece, didn’t specify who these “others” might be, but it’s not difficult to imagine who’d be on the wish list.

This comes, by the way, a day after National Review‘s Rich Lowry ran a piece quoting “a pretty prominent conservative officeholder,” who conceded that when it comes to the Republican Party and the 2012 presidential candidate, “[W]e don’t have our A team on the field.”

It’s possible this will end up on my list of blown predictions, but I continue to see this pining by prominent Republican voices for more choices as pretty silly. The Iowa caucuses are literally seven days away; we’re well past the point at which GOP insiders should be asking, “Who else is out there?”

But this should also be rather embarrassing for the current field. Republicans have been planning to take on President Obama for three years, and they now have seven candidates to choose from. One candidate, former one-term Gov. Mitt Romney, has been running practically non-stop for five years, and appears well positioned to grab the nomination — not because he’s a great candidate, but because his rivals are all ridiculous to the point of disqualification.

That the notion of late entrants is even a topic of conversation is practically a slap in the face to Romney and his team, and a reminder of just how little he’s impressed GOP stalwarts.