After presenting what is, to my mind, a pretty sound ranking of the various GOP presidential candidates' chances of winning, Kevin Drum asks a good question:
So here's my question. You might disagree with my ranking, but probably not by a whole lot. There just aren't very many candidates who have a serious chance at winning the nomination. So why are so many running? When guys like Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul ran, I understood why. They just wanted a chance to present their views to a national audience. But that can't be what's motivating everyone on this list. So what is it? What is it that's somehow convinced so many obvious losers that they actually have a shot at becoming the next president of the United States?
The answer, I think, is that these vanity campaigns are how one maintains one's currency on the right-wing media circuit and think-tank gravy train. A presidential campaign–even one that runs is DOA even before the primaries–garners press and debate appearances. The candidates then use that publicity to land speaking gigs and book deals.
The risk, however, is that as the long tail of GOP hucksters continues to expand, the returns on this scam start to shrink. We are already seeing questions around how primary debates are going to work with 16 participants. With any luck, this bubble is about to pop.