2012 Begins Tonight Without Some Big Names

I know that every time we think about it we say this, but I cannot believe that the 2012 Presidential campaign season is actually upon us. Today that fact is more real than ever. Tonight on Fox News the first GOP primary election debate will take place between a number of candidates, just not the ones we all expect. It begs the question: is it just too soon?

Sure, we are going to see Tim Pawlenty there, and Ron Paul will be as entertaining as ever, no doubt. But where is Huckabee? What about Romney? Has anyone seen Palin? And of course, we cannot forget the Donald.

So who will we see? The lineup as of this writing is Pawlenty, Paul, Santorum, Cain, and Johnson. Not exactly an all-star cast. But here is what you should expect.

Pawlenty is sadly the most viable candidate on that stage. He will attempt to position himself as the most reasonable and knowledgeable guy in the room. He will attempt to remain cool, almost Obama-esque, and he will have to, because everyone up there is further to the right than he is and will be looking to land big punches on him to score a headline for Friday morning. Expect Herman Cain to come out swinging with very rhetorical zingers directed at Pawlenty especially. The name of the game will be to destroy the “establishment” candidate.

All in all the event will seem to lack direction, and that’s because it will. While there are few candidates participating, they are all very very different men. Santorum has a social conservative reputation to uphold, and the South Carolina GOP crowd will make him feel ring at home. Paul will be incredibly critical of the Fed and monetary policy in general over the past 100 years, which will of course be followed by a huge money bomb from his cult followers tomorrow.

Finally, expect everyone to make a statement about Osama Bin Laden, prompted or not.

If nothing else, this largely inconsequential debate will be entertaining. So don’t miss it. 9:00pm on Fox News.