Why Don’t More Republicans Want to Run?

by Jonah Goldberg

John Podhoretz has a good post. He writes, in part:

So why is this happening? Simple. You’ve probably heard that the president and his team are looking to raise $1 billion to run on in 2012. They may make it; they may not. But what is that money to be spent on? He won’t have to spend it in a primary, it looks like. So that means the Obama team will have hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars to spend with one object and one object only: Destroy the eventual Republican nominee. Go after him. Drag his name through the mud. Run commercials every 15 seconds in six battleground states in which he removes wheelchairs from Medicare patients and grabs checks from Social Security recipients. And should there be a personal problem, a marial difficulty…well, Katie, bar the door. Imagine being Mitch Daniels, with your complex marital history, contemplating the onslaught of a negative campaign that cascades over you beginning in June 2012, just as you’re trying to “define” yourself to the American people. Pretty horrible to contemplate.

Everybody in America already knows and has an opinion of Obama. It will be the Obama team’s job to help everybody develop an opinion of his rival that is unabashedly hostile. And they will have the dollars to do it, though it should be said even an ad campaign in the hundreds of millions can’t in themselves cast a magic spell. But it can help.

This is the logical outcome of two things: a) the increasingly personal nature of the negativity of American politics; and b) the astonishing sums of money that can now be raised through small donations over the Internet. Tough road.

This raises a frustrating point. I think John’s absolutely right about all of this. I think everybody in the mainstream press knows that this is the case. But nobody wants to blame Obama for it. It is simply understood by reporters at the New York Times or NBC that Republicans “fight dirty.” And so their coverage reflects that even before anything dirty has happened. Well, whatever the merits of that assumption, it’s also true that Democrats fight dirty — and that goes for Obama, too. And yet how much grief does Obama get for it?  Remember, he’s the guy who said his chief opponent in 2008 was “cynicism.”

If a Republican president was scaring away candidates with his planned war chest, you know this would be a major media narrative. But because Obama is supposedly so uplifting and hopey-changey, the subject is barely on the radar.