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Commentary: Fatigue is already here for the 2012 election

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opinion Willmar,Minnesota 56201
West Central Tribune
Commentary: Fatigue is already here for the 2012 election
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

NEW YORK -- This is doubtless heretical, but I'll say it anyway: I can wait to find out who the Republican presidential candidates will be.


To be clear, I said "can," not "can't."

Let's go further: I don't care who they'll be. At least not yet.

I don't care because it's only March 2011. President Obama's first term is scarcely half over and the next election is 20 months away. Twenty months! Can you bear this conversation 24/7 for 20 more months?

ABC News in November produced a guide to Republican presidential contenders because, according to the network's website, the 2012 election was just two years away. Just? I've been tired of the 2012 elections since 2009.

Today the buzz is that Newt Gingrich won't be definitive. Politico reports that the former House speaker was supposed to make big news in Atlanta Thursday and all we got was this lousy "oddly named" website:

What can it mean? ... I just don't care. Yet.

In other non-breaking news, five or six people wonder whether former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is running. He's been to Iowa how many times? ...

Meanwhile, somewhere in the Midwest, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty are gathering dust as pundits weigh whether these two have what it takes. They're both "fixers," writes National Review's Jonah Goldberg. But are they also "fighters"?

We can wait to find out.

And then there's Mike Huckabee, who has his own TV show and is building an enormous house in Florida that he never could have dreamed he could afford someday. Will he find his way to the presidential podium or will he stick to the golden pulpit? Waiting.

Mitt, will or won't you? By all that is right and good on this bounteous Earth, Romney should be the Republican candidate. Except that he's still a Mormon and Lord knows he can't change his mind about that. Worse, he created a health care program that included insurance mandates. Will he apologize? Will he run?

We know the answer, but we'll keep talking about it anyway.

Have I left anyone out?

You may have noticed that all the aforementioned possible candidates have one-syllable names: Newt, Mitt, Rick, Tim, Mitch, Ron. They're like the recently popular one-word blockbuster book titles, the better to distinguish themselves from the vowel-rich and multi-syllabic Barack Obama. These are the hardy boys of the Leaner, Meaner GOP. No-frills and thrifty, they don't even mess around with excess syllables.

Palin, of course, is running -- or not -- but she's smart enough to know that she's most interesting when she's keeping her fans in suspense.

As with romance, it's the mystery that keeps suitors coming back. Even so, this endless drama, this turning over of every scrap, exhausting the insignificant, is enough to make one long for constancy.

This isn't mere non-news fatigue. Rather, it is the growing sense that nothing matters when everything does. ...

It is perhaps testament to these tumultuous times that we are riveted by every flicker and utterance. Political polarization has so defined us that we are always deployed in campaign mode, never in repose. Politics is, among other things, spectacle, but there's something dreary about the incessancy. Familiarity doesn't only inspire contempt; it deadens the senses.

Eventually, assuming we're still cognizant, candidates will declare themselves. We'll rehash their pasts, squirm through debates, and watch glaze-eyed as the pageant plays out. But I for one can wait. Not knowing how it ends may be all that's left to enjoy.

Kathleen Parker's e-mail address is