So maybe it's time to come down from space and say some obvious things about the campaign for the Republican nomination.

The first is that Sarah Palin has been defeated (or flanked) by Michele Bachmann.  That's bad news for the mainistream media, which loves being all horrified at the prospect of a Palin presidency.  It's also bad news for the president, because she would have been so easy to beat.  It's good news, probably, for reality TV and Fox news.

Bachmann is clearly a more articulate, knowledgable, and principled version of Palin.  She pushed herself on the national scence; she wasn't plucked from obscurity by John McCain.  She's a tax attorney with an LL.M.  She was the founder of the Tea Party caucus in the House, and she clearly up on the details of many key policy issues.  She's been touted by the social conservatives as the very model of pro-life feminism.  And there's plenty of admirable evidence:  She spent time as a stay-at-home mom, has five kids, has had 23 foster kids etc.

Bachmann manipulated the heck out of the event that was the New Hampshire debate.  In terms of impressing likely primary voters, she easily won. Palinites nationwide are enthusiastically switching to her.

So at this point, the two formidable Republican alternatives are Michele and Mitt (Romney). 

Do I really have to go over the other guys?  Pawlenty, who tries real hard, is pretty much Pawlenty of nothing.  He's now 0 for 2 in debates.  He lost the first one to the very interesting Hermann Cain (who doesn't actually know much).  And he lost the second to both Romney and Bachmann.  The poor fella is just tonedeaf to what any particular moment requires.

At this point, the most likely scenario is that Bachmann wins in Iowa (attracting the same evangelical voters that gave Huckabee the victory last time) and Romney in New Hampshire (where independents can vote in the Republican primary.  Those two results may well wreck the campaigns of all the others.  Then it's anybody's guess.

In guessing, you have to be open to the possibility that Michele will take Mitt out before the big blue states come into play.  She's surely more attractive to the enthusiasts--such as the Tea Partiers--who dominate low-turnout primaries.

I can say only three thing for certain:  Palin is done.  It would be better if the Republicans had a third formidable candidate.  Mitch Daniels, who turned out to be somewhat of a tease, is the guy almost all responsible Republicans thought of as the right candidate for 2012.