The utter confusion in the Republican presidential nominating process results from two discernable facts.
One: they hate. That's the simplest explanation of the disastrous course of this selection process. They hate so much they are not in the mood to fall in love or even fall in behind someone. Their brains, wracked as they are by hatred, lack the like mode; they are in no mood to go around looking for a politician they like. The hating is so much more satisfying.
Second factor: they don't respect experience. One after another the candidates on the right have stepped forward. Each has had his or her time in the limelight. Yet, out there on the audition stage, one after another has shown they don't have the stuff. Embarrassed by the exposure they have slunk back into the shadows. Even Herman Cain is going to get pushed from the fore by his manifest lack of comfort when someone says "foreign affairs!" That rams him right on the spot into shutdown mode. It's an area in which he has obviously spent an adult lifetime avoiding in the newspapers. He may have read the business pages, maybe like most men, the sports pages, but he talks like a man who avoided the foreign news like the plague.
And so the Republicans have a problem. They are consumed by hate, so consumed they can't think positively of whom they may want to lead them. They just can't change the subject from opposition to government.
And they can't get over the fact that to govern this country requires some experience in government, some knowledge of how you lead a government.
I am reminded often these days of how superior the competition once was for the American presidency. Say what you will about Richard Nixon. When he and Jack Kennedy debated back in 1960, the American people were proud of what they were watching. They were proud of the choice they would have to make, were being allowed to make. They had two men in their forties, both with military experience in World War II, both matured in the age of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill and then Dwight Eisenhower, men who knew what great leaders looked like, governed like, led like.
What the heck has happened to our country that we are now being asked to consider the presidential credentials of political walk-ins like Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum?
The best question the next debate moderator could ask now looms:
Are you people serious? Is the Republican Party serious?
Are we really going to go through an entire season of presidential selection with the three most memorable phrases being:
"oops!" and "9-9-9?"