First Read contends that the first shots of the 2012 race for president were fired yesterday, when Mitt Romney was forced by Mike Huckabee to defend the health care plan he spearheaded in Massachusetts. (I think the race started back in January.) And then they go on to look at the potential candidates. Seeing all the names listed like this (I added a few names that felt like weird omissions on their part), it's really quite sobering.
Here's a list of the announced candidates: Herman Cain.
Here's the list of the probable candidates who will announce over the next couple months: Haley Barbour, Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Gary Johnson, and Rick Santorum.
Here's a list of the fence-sitters, most of whom would make a huge impact if they jumped in: Michele Bachmann, John Bolton, Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and Ron Paul.
Here's a schmuck who always says he's going to run for president but may actually be fucking nuts enough to try it this time: Donald Trump.
Here are people who insist they're not running who might be running for vice president: Chris Christie, Jeb Bush.
Things will of course change over the next year and a half or so, but right now, this field of candidates looks like the Democratic presidential candidate field of 2004, only without the early electrifying presence of a Howard Dean. This is a list of unexceptional candidates or hopelessly damaged goods who have the ego to think they can go all the way.