There had long been speculation about the Governor being an ideal host in search of the perfect game show, what with the hair, smile, and folksy charm he would have been perfect. Not that the GOP debates this fall haven’t had more than a passing resemblance to staples of daytime television, even extending to the audience participation.

Now it appears the tombstone has been carved for Rick Perry’s career on the national stage, all that is missing being the closing date which may come before votes are ever cast in Iowa. As a (reluctant, disheartened, pick your adjective) supporter of Barack Obama’s re-election effort, I would have hoped Rick had been able to hang in a little longer, at least long enough to bloody Mittens in the early rounds. Not that the others would not relish that task, it was just a matter of his having the financial resources required to land some serious body blows on mister flip-flop.

Given the vanity candidate factor, it is with some trepidation that the Prince makes his dead pool predictions:

Herman Cain- Currently noteworthy mainly as a result of the sideshow that doesn’t seem to end and may stay in the news cycle for that reason alone well past the new year. Likely second place Iowa finish, single digits in New Hampshire, bounces back a bit in South Carolina IF Mittens doesn’t have decisive victories in Iowa and NH. Done after super Tuesday.

Michelle Bachmann- Expiration date could be extended only with a (currently unlikely) second or very strong third place finish in Iowa. Poor third place or lower, and she won’t miss the New Hampshire staffers that left this sinking ship some time ago.

Rick Santorum- Done after Iowa

Ron Paul- Enough resources and core support to go through until next summer merely as a matter of principle. If you’re in the “Republican stoner” demographic he’s your Obi Wan.

John Huntsman-My personal favorite in this field, has staked everything on  the supposedly more mainstream (read rational thinking, non ideologically crazed) voters of New Hampshire. He doesn’t need to win, but anything less than a strong second place finish leaves him with nothing. Even a win doesn’t give him legs for much more. Probably the only one who wouldn’t turn down a VP offer, but the all Mormon ticket is not going to happen.

Rick Perry- What to do with all that super PAC money? Probably being advised to pack it up and head home as this is being written.  My advice would be to throw a party a la Micheal Dukakis, but he won’t listen to me either. Aggie stubbornness keeps him in it through Iowa and maybe NH. Don’t fret Rick, you still have a job and when that’s over you can take a page out of Fred Thompson’s (didn’t several pundits call you the 2.0 version of him) book and become a television pitchman for….uh….Gingko Biloba.