Nobody Knows Anything--but here goes nothing:

The Party of Jackson:

There are four people in this world who might possibly win the Democratic nomination for 2008. One is too fat physically, mentally, and socially. One is too green (the wrong color to be when up against a lean, mean, fighting machine). One is too light (if he were a Republican running for president in 2000, we would have said, "he lacked gravitas"). That leaves the most manly competitor of the Democratic field, Hillary Clinton.

FYI: I know nothing of the debate tonight. History is unfolding as I write, which may be making my predictions obsolete.

The Party of Lincoln:

Rudy is out. Forget about the polls. I love Rudy. I really do. But every passing day makes it clearer and clearer to me that Rudy is not the kind of fellow who takes the GOP nomination. He is too New York. He is too lawyerly. He is on his third marriage. His kids don't seem to like him. Bernie Kerik. Judith Regan. Gun Control. Pro Choice. Not going to happen. Rudy for AG. Rudy for DHS. But never on a GOP ticket.

John McCain is still out. He is a fighter. He would have been a great president. He is smart. He is tough. He understands the art of the deal. But he is a non-starter at this point.

Mike Huckabee is the fresh-faced wild card. He will make an impact--but he probably doesn't have the foundation for a legitimate run at the big time. He will be exciting, but, in the end, he probably falls well short.

Mitt Romney has a great strategy and a lot of money. Although he is nowhere in the polls right now, his campaign is the smartest and best funded. He could take off in Iowa and New Hampshire, gain momentum, and stampede the competition. The Mormon thing is a minor nuisance. I continue to believe his religion is a non-issue for most people. Would it come up eventually? Yes. If nominated, Democrats would make sure every evangelical in America knew Romney was Mormon--and we would find out more about Mormonism between Labor Day and Halloween than we had learned over a lifetime. Remember how John Kerry and John Edwards both took great pains to interject Mary Cheney's homosexuality into the national debates? We would see a plethora of Mormon stories from all angles, all the while bemoaning the fact that so many Americans were still so closed minded. Double prizes. Submarine the GOP candidate while spreading ugly stereotypes about GOP voters. But I don't think it gets that far. Romney is too Massachusetts. He has too many center-left skeletons in his closet. I can see how he wins the nomination--but my gut feeling is that he will not.

This leaves Fred. He has a horrible organization and he his currently running the worst campaign. But he is the best candidate. That is, he is the most convincing, most likable, most consistent conservative in the race. He very likely wins by default. After everybody else craters, Fred takes the part.

I hate to mention this--but things are so crazy this year, I think it is actually possible, for the first time since 1976, to have a convention in which the winner is not apparent going in. Things are so murky that several candidates might emerge and split votes in the front-loaded primaries, leaving several candidates with healthy delegate totals but not a majority. If that unlikely eventuality comes to pass, then the convention would be a throwback to something from the last century, and some other prominent Republican might likely emerge as the GOP standard bearer. But that's probably just wishful thinking from the historian in me.