There are 41 filing deadlines in the Republican nomination contest, and as of December 22 nine of these will have already come and gone. Today is Texas’ filing deadline. By the end of January, another eleven deadlines will have passed. Together, these twenty contests account for 961 delegates. I suppose it is still mathematically possible to miss all of those deadlines and still receive the nomination, but it is so far-fetched that there ought to be no point in speculating about it. That hasn’t stopped Jay Cost from doing just that (via Andrew):

That should serve as a lesson to the literally half dozen Republican leaders across the country who either chose not to run, or dropped out this primary cycle. Your country needs you. Follow in the footsteps of Washington: put aside your personal desires and serve your nation just as he did. The current field is manifestly insufficient, and America requires somebody better. Washington didn’t retire to his estate to ride his horses and tend to his garden. Can’t one of those Republicans (we all know who they are) get off the sidelines and get into this game? Is that really asking too much?

As a service to all these would-be candidates, attached here is a list of the filing deadlines for the remaining primaries, with the total number of delegates at stake. Clearly, there is still time to mount a vigorous and successful campaign. Will somebody please step forward to meet this moment?

One part of this appeal that makes very little sense is the call for public service, as if the “half dozen Republican leaders” that Cost presumably has in mind aren’t already engaged in public affairs in one way or another. The fixation on the Presidency ignores how valuable it is to have competent leaders in other branches and levels of government. If there has been “personal desire” involved in keeping some politicians out of the race, it has probably been the desire not to engage in a futile presidential campaign. Remember, this is not just a call for more candidates to give voters other options. It is a call for someone to rise to the occasion like Washington and save the country. In fact, it isn’t the country that needs them, but some of their party’s elites, who are obviously embarrassed by the quality of their side’s candidates.

There is also a weird refusal to accept reality here. Several of the “leaders” very publicly flirted with the idea of a presidential bid, considered it, and judged that it was the wrong time or the wrong thing to do. Each of them discovered that their chances for winning the nomination weren’t very good, and they were winnowed out early on. It should go without saying that none of them was going to do any better than the current crop of candidates. That may seem hard to believe, but it’s true. Mitch Daniels understandably took a pass on filling the space that Jon Huntsman now occupies, Paul Ryan refused to serve as a guinea pig to test the proposition that Republican primary voters actually love entitlement cuts, and Chris Christie opted not to sabotage his tenure as governor by heeding the siren song of a few nattering pundits and some ex-Giuliani donors. There is no unity figure waiting in the wings.

When Rhodes Cook argued that it was still technically possible for another Republican candidate to join the race, James Joyner described the implausible scenario this way:

So . . . a candidate could swoop in after the key early states, immediately be more organized than most of the existing candidates, have more success getting on ballots than Newt Gingrich (the current frontrunner) and amass the needed 1142 delegates to win the nomination by essentially running the table in every remaining state? And this seems to wish away the fact that Super Tuesday is on March 6, less than a month after this candidate jumps in to save the day.

If one of Cost’s “leaders” made the mistake of listening to his appeal, he would find himself in an absurd uphill struggle in which there would not be enough time to organize in the remaining states or to raise funds, to say nothing of trying to cobble together a policy agenda or present himself to enough voters to make an impact on the race. If it was foolish for some of them to consider running in this cycle a few months ago, it is simply mad for them to try it now.