Rick Perry’s “major” gaffe in the last Republican debate is being touted as perhaps the end of his campaign, even by some on the right. But just about everything that happens in this campaign of endless debates is the end of someone’s campaign. Perry’s inability to remember which three agencies he plans to terminate if elected, and the question left hanging shows once again how bad he is in thinking on his feet. But does it show much more than that?

So far, the Republican campaign has been more like Whack-A-Mole than a serious vetting of candidates. We’ve had several people float toward the role of “Leading Not-Romney Candidate” — Bachmann, Perry, Cain — only to see them crashing and burning in the limelight. Cain’s decline is speeding up after days of denying sexual advances on women he referred to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as ‘Princess Nancy’. At a time when a little respect for women might help the candidate, he goes in exactly the opposite direction.

It looks more and more like the Republican nomination will go to the Last One Standing, whoever is left after all of the others crash and burn. That might be Romney, and clearly his strategy is based on being that last one. It could just as easily turn out to be someone like Gingrich, ignored through this primary season for his refusal to run a traditional campaign (and subsequent staff defections) and his focus on promoting his book as much as his Presidential aspirations. Maybe that’s his strategy: lay low in the silly season and only get serious when the voting starts.