"The Republican Party is going to have a hard time coming up with a strong presidential nominee in 2012."
-- Michael Barone, summarized by Instapundit
The short, bald, grouchy RINO loser the party nominated last year was, arguably, an even worse candidate than Bob Dole. And that's saying something.
A basic problem with the elite class of conservative commentators is that they cannot help but reflect the Beltway GOP's prejudices, including the sensibility that associates foreign policy/national security policy with prestige.
The domestic side of conservatism -- economic and social policy -- always suffers by comparison. A limited-government agenda is not going to get you invited on junkets funded by Raytheon and Boeing. Christian conservative stances on social policy aren't going to result in your becoming a regular on the Jim Lehrer show.
The Republican foreign-policy specialist, however, is going to get his share of guest shots on CNN whenever the situation in the Mideast goes sideways. His op-eds will be published by reputable newspapers. Democratic senators aren't going to shun the former GOP administration official who becomes a lobbyist for General Dynamic, when General Dynamic is contributing generously to the Democratic senator's campaign fund or leadership PAC.
This is why John McCain, who was never a real right-winger in his domestic policy commitments, was always such a darling of the MSM -- right up to the moment when they set him up as the Designated Republican Loser for 2008.
It was almost an exact repeat of what happened with Dole in 1996. Republicans never seem to learn: Your best candidate is always the one most hated by liberals.