Is it too soon to start thinking ahead and madly speculating on how the horse race for the White House might look in 2016? Heavens, no! Like most of America, I already miss that period of time when a large slate of would-be candidates, including many who are manifestly unfit to lead the executive branch, gather together on a weekly basis for debates in which they are asked the same questions over and over again, until the entire nation weeps.
The way I see it, come 2016, there will either be a bunch of Democrats running for president about whom I'll have to care or I'll be six feet under the ground. So I applaud all of this future-casting, if only for the chance to aim my foot weakly at the ass of mortality.
So let's enter the 2016 Speculatron, shall we? Glenn Thrush announces today that one thing for which we should gird ourselves is the Full Unleashing of the Biden, who -- despite the fact that he'll be 73 in 2016 -- is clearly still alive with pluck and vim and an "old fire" that "crackles" and an enthusiasm that leads to hyperbole. Think Biden isn't serious about using what I'm guessing he assumes to be a soon-to-be-successfully achieved second term as a springboard for a run at the top job? Think again, because as Thrush reports, the vice president is getting his staff on:
Biden has gone on a recent staffing spree -- culminating with the hire of Clinton-era operative Steve Ricchetti -- that has many Democrats, and even some on Obama's own team, wondering if the preternaturally spry and congenitally upbeat vice president just might confound conventional wisdom.
Former Sen. Ted Kaufman, a Biden friend, staffer and adviser since the early 1970s, said it's "premature" to say Biden is laying the groundwork for a 2016 run but has no doubt that his golf-addicted buddy is physically capable of it.
"What I've been saying, and what I think he believes also, is that after this election is over, he should seriously think about 2016," said Kaufman, who is part of an informal kitchen cabinet that includes Mike Donilon, whom Ricchetti is replacing, and former chief of staff Ron Klain, who's been guiding Biden's moves despite a day job advising ex-AOL impresario Steve Case.
Thrush reports that the Obama team are "are amused rather than threatened" by Biden's subtle shows of ambition, but at least one person quoted in the story -- former Hillary Clinton aide Phil Singer -- makes the rather obvious point that Biden "should impose a gag order on any 2016 speculation." Too late, though, because the story to which Singer lent his quote is all about Joe Biden having some intriguing new guys doing some intriguing stuff for him, and his good buddy saying, "Ahhh, pay no attention to that, but on the other hand, now that you mention it, he is like a machine, physiologically speaking." Upon such thin foundations are mighty castles of speculation built.
But we needn't limit our focus to Biden, who draws such speculation primarily because he's Obama's running mate and our tendency is to respect the "next in line" concept. There's all sorts of people worth speculating about, and over at the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza uses the NCAA Tournament as the peg for a huge game of thrones that involves both Democrats and Republicans in 2016 electioneering. (Cillizza takes great pains to point out that he is not predicting an Obama reelection, it's just more fun to think about both parties battling it out for bracket supremacy.)
Cillizza has, however, weighed in on Biden's fate by not including him on the Democratic side of the bracket, instead according New York Governor Andrew Cuomo the "number one seed." (Marco Rubio is his counterpart on the GOP side of the bracket.) He also underrates Hillary Clinton considerably, giving her the number seven seed. WaPo readers get to vote their preferences, and the winners advance, and there have already been some exciting upsets (Clinton prevailing over Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley; New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand beating Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick). Today, readers will be able to start voting on their "Final Four," and it all culminates with an official GOP vs. Democrat matchup being decided on April 2.
The winner of Cillizza's bracket game will receive four years of being asked several thousand times about his or her presidential ambitions every single time they sit for an interview with David Gregory. (This is also what all the losers will win.)
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