Yes, it’s an endorsement of him, of a sort, but it’s also a vote of no confidence in Palin’s chances.

But right now I am not excited by or inspired by any of them save Sarah Palin and, as much as I love Sarah Palin, I am adamantly convinced that she cannot win given the ridiculous smears and hate thrown her way by Democrats and, frankly, by a lot of Republicans. She has been made radioactive.

I would, however, still gladly vote for her and support her. I’d rather go down with her than up with some of the others. Let’s be honest here — Lyndon Johnson won in 1964 largely because of Barry Goldwater as the GOP nominee. The alternative would have been Nelson Rockefeller…

No member of the House of Representatives has made it to the White House since the late 1800’s. The odds are surely against Congressmen. But I think Mike Pence could do it.

He bridges the gap between the establishment and the grassroots. He is in the comfort zone of both. He has a private sector background that shines in comparison to anything Barack Obama ever did before elected politics.* He has the free market think tank background to reassure fiscal conservatives. He has the social conservative bona fides to reassure the social conservatives who, this year, feel marginalized.

I’ve made that last point about Pence bridging the establishment/grassroots gap too. If you’re looking for a candidate whom both the base and the Beltway can live with, your options are vanishingly small. In fact, that’s Thune’s main drawing point, I think — he’s such a thoroughgoing cipher that he’s unlikely to draw strong reactions, whether positive or negative, from anyone, which ironically makes him a potent threat to Obama in the general if the economy continues to struggle. Pence is well regarded by the base, both fiscally and socially, and well acquainted with Republican powerbrokers after 10 years, so he offers a comfort level for all concerned that virtually no one else can match. I’d be surprised if powerful Republicans aren’t leaning heavily on him to run right now, for precisely that reason.

I assume that’s also why Erick Erickson took to writing this today, to apply some pressure on Pence from the grassroots end of the spectrum. The Conservatives 4 Palin people are dismissing his post on grounds that Pence is likely to run for governor, not for president — but that’s precisely what Erickson’s worried about, I suspect. He’s trying to kickstart some buzz among the base for Pence before he commits to running in Indiana; if that happens, and if Erickson’s right that Palin is “radioactive,” then who’s left for a rank-and-file conservative to support in the primaries? Gingrich? Thune? I can see it happening, I guess, but I can’t see it happening enthusiastically. If you want Pence, you’d better make some noise. Soon.

Exit question: Why not a “Draft Jim DeMint” movement? Because he’s radioactive to the establishment, right?