Everyone who's paying attention is either whining or gloating about the abysmal quality of the Republican presidential field, with its rag-tag roster of unknown, unloved or apparently unstable candidates (and would-be candidates). But the GOP contenders aren't as bad as all that, the New York Times' Matt Bai argues today. For one thing, they’re all former governors, "and governors generally make far more compelling presidential candidates than senators, who tend to speak like parchment scrolls." Moreover, governers tend to be pragmatic "in a way that voters appreciate," and that's especially true of two of the serious candidates – Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty – who had to win in Democrat-leaning states – Massachusetts and Minnesota, respectively. Also to consider: it's early days yet. "[T]he best presidential candidates don’t start out as fully formed national figures .... They evolve to meet the moment by listening to voters in depressing banquet halls and cramped living rooms. They sharpen arguments through endless repetition and find their voices when no one in the press is really listening." Finally, factor in that the economy, unless it comes roaring back pre-election, could to pull the president down all by itself, and it starts to look like Obama will have a fight on this hands.
• 'Cheer Up GOP, the 2012 Field Isn't That Bad' [Matt Bai, New York Times]