My two cents' worth on this is that if the Republican field had been stronger, Perry would have held his fire, and Palin would probably not get in. And so long as the contenders don't wreck each other's chances, but simply make their best pitches to the GOP faithful, then the party will unify and have a great chance to throw Obama & Co. out on their jug ears.
And that's what it's all about. Sure, some are running for President out of sheer ego (*cough* Newt *cough*). But for most of the GOP field, I think it's about beating Obama. They should all care more about fielding their best candidate. And it's OK to think oneself is the best candidate, so long as one doesn't torpedo one's own party if one is not nominated.
I also think that if the GOP nominates some guy with name recognition, good hair, and the ability to mouth whatever sound bites the focus groups like (as per usual), then they may snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. When the eventual nominee squares off with the incumbent, he (or she) has got to mean it.
That doesn't mean that the angriest candidate has the best chance. Americans, by and large, don't like angry candidates. But they want to see someone with passion, and the passion has to come across as authentic. Back in 1980, anybody and everybody could take potshots at Jimmy Carter, and all of them were perfectly true. But when Ronald Reagan said, "a recession is when your neighbor loses his job, a depression is when you lose your job, and recovery begins when Jimmy Carter loses his job," it wasn't just a clever line. Voters got the sense that Reagan, while personally affable, meant what he said. Would do what he said, if given the chance.
This is important, because just showing Obama the door (as wonderful as that day will be) doesn't get our country out of its current precarious position. Just winning the election so YOU can preside over our decline is not a victory that anybody is likely to celebrate. There are far too many people running to replace the President who would not have the conviction -- and the passion -- to reverse the decline. Being able to rally the American people to actually quit patchin' and get to fixin' will be even more difficult than getting elected. And the successful candidate has to be able to do both.
So, if nobody in the first batch to audition catches fire, open the doors and let another batch try out for the part. On with the show!