Like elections, the world is crazy and uncertain

The other day Gov. Rick Perry announced he was dropping out of the race for the Republican nomination for president, and made official what had been obvious before: I am not paid for my political prognostications.

“Look, unless Perry gets caught with a dead girl or live boy, he’s got the Republican nomination wrapped up. At this point, he could probably survive having to deny he has carnal knowledge of his pet sow,” some darn fool wrote back in September.

(In my defense, I did base Perry’s expected dominance in the primaries on the assumption that he would do as he has in the past and duck out of the debates. However, his calls for Mitt Romney’s tax returns came much too late and without ultimatum. I can also take some comfort in that many people who do get paid for their political prognostications made the same mistake, or worse. Or several.)

The worst part of all of this is that Perry, as ambassador for the great state of Texas, proved about as embarrassing on the national stage as a state’s chief executive can possibly be, much less the most elected, longest serving one in our history.

I know, I know. He was “Governor 39 percent” in 2006, or whatever, but he was still highly popular, and for years, none of us cared he didn’t give legitimate interviews or engage in actual debate to prove he could remember three things at the same time.

It reflects poorly on us, except perhaps that we really do have the right idea down here about how to run a government. If someone like Perry can’t mess up what’s going on down here, the structure is obviously pretty robust. That or the lieutenant governor is a much more important position, and David Dewhurst is actually quite competent.

Perry certainly gave it his best, and outlasted many.

As Romney has continued to trudge along, he’s had a successive number of challengers rise and flame out. Michele Bachmann gave way to Perry, who gave way to Herman Cain, who gave way to Newt Gingrich, who gave way to Rick Santorum, who gave way to Gingrich again.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention Ron Paul, but he’s a separate phenomenon and doesn’t seem capable of capturing that vacillating excitement that’s played out during the past four months. I also didn’t mention Jon Huntsman, but you probably didn’t notice.

Anyway, I have no idea what’s going on anymore. I don’t want to harp too much on it, but the idea that an openly non-Nicene Creed Christian could capture the nomination for the modern Republican party, and in fact has for the time being the best chance at it, is still something shocking. That two of those left in the field, Santorum and Gingrich, are Catholic again is a no-less seismic shift.

Unless Ron Paul manages an amazing surge in popularity, the only Protestant Christian with a legitimate chance for president will likely be a fellow named Barack Obama.

I don’t think this was in anyone’s imagination even 10 years ago. But, that can be said of a lot of things.

At the end of everything, someone will look back and explain exactly why this election cycle makes sense, why things happened the way they did, why the victory and defeat of each candidate was inevitable. Until then, people’s expectations for what’s going to happen will be continually upended the surprises of what does, and not just in elections.

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