My own inclination is to regard the field of Republican Presidential candidates as a bad joke -- the qualities of the various "first-tier" candidates an early indication that the Republican Party is undergoing a process of self-immolation, which will not stop much before 2010 at the earliest.
But, of course, I am not a Republican, and I have no way to gauge the sentiment in the country, especially among the politically ill-informed. The outcome of the 2002 and 2004 elections makes me shy, and I am acutely aware that right-wing Republicans completely own and control the news media and the punditocrisy. Some people, who don't share my allegiance, like David Brooks and George Will, are also skeptical of the Republican field, and of Republican electoral prospects in the wake of the Bush catastrophe, but, hey, Joe Lieberman got elected in Connecticut.
It may be that a large part of the American electorate has not yet learned the hard lesson of Republican malfeasance, and that the country will find itself tested by yet another flirtation with Republicans in power.
In that spirit, I read Michael Gerson warning of hurricanes on the horizon: "With the same rootless confidence that causes people to ignore hurricane warnings, many social conservatives remain in denial about Rudy Giuliani's chances of winning the Republican nomination."
I think Gerson has Guiliani's number: "Giuliani is a Nixon Republican."