If today’s January, this must be an update

I’ve been slacking already, so here’s a two-or-three-week update.

Let’s kick it off with Mike Huckabee, setting the bar pretty low for a candidate who’s not even a candidate yet:

I noticed Huckabee’s book is called God, Guns, Grits and Gravy. If you happened to be around Idaho and Montana at the right time, you might remember Bo Gritz, whose slogan was God, Guns and Gritz. I’m not saying anything about the similarity, though. I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, he may not be a candidate yet, but he’s certainly sniffing around:

Meanwhile, at the end of December, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul had a pissing match over Cuba:

Please note Paul being the voice of reason. He’s going to screw with everyone’s sensibilities as long as he’s around.

Jeb Bush’s intentions have been unclear for a long time, but not anymore:

And I thought Romney would only get in if Bush didn’t, but it’s good to be so wrong so early. Reminds me that I have no fucking clue.

Who ever thought we might have a race between two significant establishment candidates?

Fortunately, there’s a whole slew of second-tier candidates waiting to muddy the waters. Here’s Fox’s list, which overlaps a little with mine:

Well, that wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

 

Weekly-ish Update

Occasional update is occasional. I’m not going to try to keep up with breaking news, or even try to catch all of the big stories. I think that what I’m going to try is to give a general feeling for what’s going on. Stories may be skewed towards the day when I assemble the post, but will only be included if they are representative of the limited duration zeitgeist.

So, without further comment and in no particular order:

The Republican Muckheap (vol. 1)

OK, kids, pull on your waders. We’re getting into the muck of the Republican candidates. We’ve generally expected 2016 to be a GOP civil war, pitting the teabaggers against the old-line establishment, but the tea partiers got clobbered pretty hard in the midterms. We’re still waiting for the dust to settle before we can see who came out the strongest.

If the establishment rallies around a single candidate early in the cycle, and the tea party puts on its usual shit show, we may end up with someone like Bush being anointed early on. On the other hand, it’s not hard to imagine a long bitter fight to the end. It’s been ages since a nomination was actually decided at a convention, but we could see multiple ballots if things get out of hand. We could even see a walkout or a split.

There’s no particular order here. I basically wrote them out in the order I thought of them. It’s a long list, but I know I’m leaving people out too.

Mitt Romney. There’s no sign that Romney himself is interested, but people around him have been suggesting his name as an alternative to the other terrible choices. Considering the fantasy land they seemed to live in last time around, they might actually believe this is a good idea. Nobody else does, but a couple of high profile tea party meltdowns might change some minds.

Jeb Bush. Widely regarded as the brother who should have run in 2000, Jeb Bush is a solid establishment candidate with endless moneybags to back him up. Conventional wisdom used to say that no one wanted another Bush, but then conventional wisdom got a look at these other clowns. He’s got a good chance of unifying the grown-up wing of the party, and could potentially win a national election. But if we get another tea party primary, it’ll be hard for him to keep his head above water long enough.

Chris Christie. Christie is a loud-mouthed east coaster whose humor sometimes sounds like an attack. I grew up around guys like that, but middle America might not be ready for him yet. The Traffic-gate scandal might impress primary voters who want a candidate who throws a tantrum like it’s serious biz, but it won’t sell so well to everyone else. He lost a lot of stature in his party for saying nice things about Obama while his state was being destroyed by a hurricane. He’s not nearly far enough to the right, especially on social issues. And if he wants to play to the establishment faction, he’d better hope Bush hasn’t sucked all the oxygen out of the room already. I’d call him possible VP material, maybe Secretary of HUD or something similar.

Rand Paul. Paul is not the libertarian America needs or even the one it deserves, but he’s the one it’s got. I’ll leave it to the purists to argue why he’s not “really” a “libertarian”, but let me ask you this: How far are you willing to go for a president who opposes NSA spying and might actually say no to a war on occasion? Paul’s got a tough path to the nomination, but it’ll upset lots of applecarts if he gets it. It’ll be harder for him to carry the tea party banner now that he holds office and has to make actual decisions in the real world, but the party establishment won’t come anywhere near him. His odds depend heavily on the environment he runs in.

Ted Cruz. Cruz set the tone for this election cycle when he tweeted that net neutrality was obamacare for the internet. Whether his ignorance is really this profound, or it’s simply his need to pander to the know-nothings, Cruz is one of the candidates dragging his party to the bottom of the swamp. He’ll be fighting to wrap up the tea party vote against an impressive array of asshats, but that will only alienate him further from the establishment faction and the mainstream of American voters. I nominate him most likely to lead a walkout at the convention.

Marco Rubio. Rubio was a tea party darling until he said something about immigration that was not actually xenophobic and full of hate. They dropped him right quick after that. Hard to say who his base is now, or whether he even has one. He’s of Cuban descent, so some people will certainly promote him as an antidote to the party’s problem attracting latino voters. Florida Cubans are pretty distinct from other latino groups, however, and it may not be as impressive for the GOP as it sounds.

Michelle Bachmann. Seriously? Well, she’s talking about it. A certain number of people will think putting a woman on the ballot is the way to steal Clinton’s thunder, but they tried going after women voters with Sarah Palin and that didn’t go so well. If Bachmann’s in for 2016, it’s only as a joke.

Sarah Palin. If Palin’s in for 2016, it’s a very bad joke indeed. She recently said she was thinking about jumping in just to spite the haters, but she’s long past being taken seriously as a politician. She might make it as a pundit or a reality tv star, but if she had serious political aspirations, she would have finished out her first and only term as governor. I see her doing some self-promotional fundraising appearances, maybe flogging a new book, maybe taking an analyst job at Fox. Running for president, however? Yeah, no.

Well, we’re only knee-deep and I’ve already had all I can stand today. Tune in soon for the next installment, including all of the following and possibly more.

  • Bobby Jindal
  • Rick Perry
  • Ben Carson
  • Nikki Haley
  • Lindsey Graham
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Paul Ryan
  • Rick Santorum
  • Donald Trump
  • Scott Walker
  • John Bolton
  • Peter King
  • Ted Nugent

Isn’t that list depressing just to look at? Go take a walk, breathe some fresh air and cleanse your mind. Tomorrow will be a new day for sorrow and despair.

Democrats who are not Hilary Clinton

I guess it’s time to start.

The Republicans will certainly have a contested primary this time around, but the actual details are too horrifying to contemplate quite yet. I’m going to avert my gaze for a little longer, and instead ask the question we’ve been puzzling over in my household for months now: if not Clinton, then who?

Conventional wisdom seems to have annointed Hilary Clinton the Democratic nominee, as we’ve all expected since 2008. She has been the presumed front-runner before, but this time around is different. Four years as Secretary of State have marked her as her own person, emerging from Bill’s shadow to hold the spotlight on her own merits (whatever those may turn out to be).

All the smart money is riding on Clinton, but we still haven’t heard from her. What if she doesn’t run?

Here’s the rundown on who the Dems have got if Clinton sits it out. Some of them will be in even if it means running against her, but most are probably waiting to see what she does before they make up their own minds. Those that run against her anyway, despite their rhetoric, won’t be running to win. They’ll be trying to pull Clinton to the left, or introducing themselves to the public for 2020 or 2024, or else auditioning for a cabinet post- or VP if they’re both ambitious and masochistic.

This is my own list without benefit of Wikipedia or CNN. I’ll come back later and see if I missed anyone. These are people who may be thinking about it, or who others are talking about, or at least people with a history of this sort of thing. It’s not just a list of potential candidates or a preview of a Clinton cabinet. It’s also a measure of the strength of the Democratic bench. Who are their heavy hitters that can step up to national issues when called upon?

Let’s start with one who’s definitely in, and one who’s almost certainly out.

Jim Webb. We start with Jim Webb because he’s already announced he’s running. Nobody really noticed, but that’s OK. He was Secretary of the Navy under Reagan, and served one term in the Senate before choosing not to run for a second. I assume he’s running for Secretary of Defense, but he might have an outside chance of VP- military experience, bipartisanship, etc.

Elizabeth Warren. Beloved of the three progressives remaining in the Democratic Party, Warren has been pretty clear she’s not running against Clinton. Even if Clinton sits it out, she hasn’t shown much interest. She doesn’t need the race to raise her profile, and a professor-turned-freshman-senator isn’t exactly the heavy hitter the Dems want at the top (see also: Obama, Barack). She’s got a chance to build a solid position in the Senate, but she’ll squander that if she exposes herself to the vitriol of a national campaign. If Clinton drops out, there’s a chance Warren would get in, but not much.

Joe Biden. Uncle Joe has been waiting for this since (probably) before you were born. Conventional wisdom says he won’t run against Clinton, and we’ve seen no evidence of him going unconventional, but if she gets out, he’s in. Biden is best known for his big mouth, but he’s also the consummate Washington insider. He’s a great pick for VP, but a bit of a loose cannon for the top of the ticket. You might think that sounds refreshing right now, but that’s what the Republicans thought about McCain, and that didn’t go well for them at all. Biden is a lot like McCain, in fact- if he gets the nomination, it will be because he’s been waiting long enough and now it’s his turn. It will be a sign of the party’s weakness, not its strength.

Bernie Sanders. Sanders is the pull-em-to-the-left candidate we might actually get, the one most likely to run against Clinton. He’s not actually a Dem, however, and he’s brave enough to call himself a socialist in public. Of course, he doesn’t stand a chance. If he sucks it up and runs as a Dem, he may succeed in introducing an issue or two into the debate. He’s equally likely to run as an independent, giving the Dems a scapegoat for all their failures, so we’ll be addressing him again when we cover the third party and indie candidates one of these days.

Bill Richardson. Richardson was a reliable B-lister at the national level for years. He was in the running for a Cabinet position in the early days of 2009, but he withdrew to address some local scandal he was implicated in. No one’s heard much from him since. The scandal came to nothing, but it cost him his chance to jump up to the A-list. 2016 may be his last opportunity.

Corey Booker. I don’t think Booker’s ready to run yet, but he’s a rising star. With a wide-open field, he might be induced to jump in. He’s still a first-term senator, though. I think he would build a solid following by running, but he wouldn’t get the nomination. His prize might be a prime-time speech at the convention, but those don’t mean what they used to anymore.

Howard Dean. Remember the scream? I didn’t. I went back and watched a youtube of it, and I can’t see what the big deal was. Nobody’s going to care about that. What they might care about is that he’s been busy organizing for the Dems. He’s done a lot of behind-the-scenes work that plays well with party insiders but doesn’t mean jack to the voting public. It’s enough to buy him a seat at the grown-ups’ table, though, and then he gets to re-introduce himself to the voters.

Assorted Governors. There’s a whole slew of governors and former governors sniffing around, as always. Most prominent is Andrew Cuomo of New York, who was also a cabinet secretary for four years. There’s also some Schweitzer guy (I had to look up his name) who was governor of Montana. I imagine he would run on his winning-a-red-state-as-a-dem experience, but the lessons he learned in Helena may not be so relevant in Washington.

And last but also least, here are the outliers who we don’t need to worry about but who deserve at least one name-check over the next two years.

Joe Lieberman. It would be a little embarrassing for everyone if Lieberman ran, but just a quick reminder- he’s still out there.

Dick Gephardt. I know Gephardt’s not running. It’s just been traditional to toss his name out for thirty years now, and I can’t stop myself. I’ve been making the same joke about his eyebrows since like 1988 or something.

Lyndon LaRouche. I had to look it up. He’s still alive, but he’s 92. No idea if his organization has it together to run someone else, but it just wouldn’t be the same.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few, and there can always be someone we’ve never heard of. I suppose if Clinton stays out, there will be enough chaos and confusion that a new face could push their way in outside the usual channels.

I’ll be back to expand this list as necessary (meaning after I run to check Wikipedia, of course), and to say more about some of the individuals who look like they might be going somewhere. But in the meantime, I’ll be preparing myself to wade into the Republican swamp. By the time I’m done with that one, another Bush may even start sounding good.

Too soon! Too soon!

First, I don’t want to hear that it’s too soon. The 2016 race began when the primaries ended in 2008, and it’s been in full swing since Romney cancelled his staffers’ credit cards on the way home from election night 2012. Besides, the Christmas stuff was in the stores even before Halloween this year. At least I waited for the midterms to be over.

Now, as to why I’ve gathered you here today: 2016 is coming. Once more we will be dragged through the muck of a presidential election. People are going to say and do profoundly ignorant things, sometimes competing for the honor of being the most backward of the bunch, and they will do it all as publicly as they can. Hordes of liberals will line up to support a warmed-over rhetoric of hope and change, knowing all the time that what their party will deliver is Wall Street, and they’ll love every minute of it. It can go a lot of ways, but it can’t end well.

I don’t plan to chase after breaking news or liveblog every development. If you want the 24-hour news cycle, you can find it anywhere. I plan to talk about what’s going on, as I’m moved to talk about it. If you’re inclined to talk back to me, we might have an intelligent conversation.

I expect this to be a grim task, so hoist the black flag and let the gallows humor fly.