There’s been a lot of talk in Washington, D.C. and on the news shows about how our prolonged national debt ceiling nightmare will be the equivalent of political Armageddon for whoever loses this battle.  It’s just a matter of days until we know the outcome of our budgetary War and Peace.  But when it comes to political disasters, the next big one we’ll be facing in the headlines involves the crop of Republican candidates vying for relevance, as well as support.

It’s not really a pretty picture when you consider how the GOP front-runners are keeping our attention:

1. Herman Cain has a gospel album.

2. Tim Pawlenty is going mano-a-mano with late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien and his Team Coco on Twitter.

3. Michele Bachmann can’t escape the slavery issue.

4. Jon Hunstman seems to think a video of a lone motorcyclist racing across the desert will take conservatives’ minds off the fact that he just finished a two-year stint promoting President Obama’s policies in China.

5. Sarah Palin hopes that a Newsweek cover and accompanying article that amounts to a love letter from Tina Brown will put her back on the political motherhood map that Bachmann has taken from her.

6. And poor Mitt Romney is left wondering how the hell he ended up being the Republican candidate whose financial war chest can’t seem to buy him the attention he needs to get close to Pennsylvania Avenue.

As a progressive, all of this makes me happy about the prospects of keeping a Democrat in the White House until at least 2016, but none of this is good for the political process as a whole.  Not that the liberal side of politics isn’t taking its share of hits with a bizarre fascination with Michelle Obama’s personal eating habits and the Obama 2012 team’s apparent belief that a White House Twitter party is a productive step on the path to keeping online supporters engaged (and contributing money).

There’s no doubt that the financial crisis we face is of critical importance and it is truly scary to think that there are a handful of Republicans who are absolutely willing to jeopardize the global economy, and the financial futures of all our children, for the sake of getting the White House back to push their conservative social agenda.  But what is contributing equally to the fact that we’re staring into the face of political and economic doom is the quality of candidates who think they’re the best their party has to offer and that they think they can win with some slick promotion and quirky personalities.

Or is that our fault as ADD news consumers and apathetic political participants?