Are Republicans actually going to nominate the guy who pioneered health-care mandates?

And yet here he is, poised to assume the Republican nomination as Rick Perry tries to stave off a total implosion. It is as if the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination was about to fall into the hands of Paul Wolfowitz. What happened?…

And now, Rick Perry. This is a man who was put on Earth to defeat Mitt Romney. He is the walking embodiment of the Republican id. His disembowelment of Kay Bailey Hutchinson in the 2010 Texas gubernatorial primary is the blueprint for attacking a favored Republican from the right. Simply substitute Romney for Hutchinson and “Romneycare” for “bailout” and the plan could not be more promising. And yet Perry, like Pawlenty before him, has found himself unable to deliver the line. In Thursday night’s debate, with a devastating attack teed, up, he began stammering painfully, looking as though he were about to fall asleep. You have to wonder if Romney is protected by some invisible force-field, which incapacitates the brain of any foe who approaches him.

Romney remains wildly vulnerable. Perhaps the latest non-Romney savior Chris Christie will jump into the race. Or perhaps Perry can learn to memorize his cue cards (or take dramatic action to shore up his anti-illegal immigration bona fides). Failing that, we may see a man walk into the nomination of a party whose electorate is dying to vote against him, simply because nobody else could stand in his path without keeling over.