We have HOW long until the next presidential election?
Some of us just want to say: Give it a rest... but there seems little chance. Recently I rode the bus home with a new friend who had just attended her first event at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club, one of a popular series of "Week to Week" political roundtables. She was favorably impressed with the venue, the audience members she met, the moderator (Commonwealth Club Vice President for Media and Editorial John Zipperer) and the panelists: Carla Marinucci, Senior Political Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, Bill Whalen, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Larry Gerston, political analyst, author and Professor, San Jose State University.
But she was irate about the way the discussion began: the better part of the first half hour was devoted to speculation, reports and analysis of the next presidential campaign. We're talking about 2016.
Karl Rove gets the initial blame.
Rove's now famous commentary on Hillary Clinton's brain has itself been analyzed, reported and speculated upon ad-nauseum: Was she injured in the 2012 fall? Did she fake it? Did it result in brain damage ("serious health issues")? -- and -- bottom line: Is her candidacy for the presidency in 2016 a done deal? This roundtable being a discussion of the past week's news, it was perhaps inevitable that The Hillary Question would be the lead-off issue. So Zipperer led off with the Rove report and the panelists weighed in:
Whalen: "He (Rove) is trying to draw her into a 'he said/ she said...'"
Gerston: "It's a one-news-cycle thing... although health, age etc are legitimate issues."
After these issues were legitimately raised and discussed, the panelists veered off into potential alternatives to Clinton: Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick? ("If you can manage a good campaign, saying nice things about Hillary Clinton, you're halfway there," Whalen commented.) Or, what about San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro for Vice President?
Marinucci tossed out a couple of likely-looking Republicans, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Kentucky SenatorRand Paul...
Much of the balance of the program was spent on discussion of the firing of New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson. Was she badly treated? Paid less than her male predecessors? Perhaps she was never quite the right fit for the job. Or, in the end, it might have been that she just could not get along with management. But the gender issue continues to hover. And in the "Week to Week" discussion this gave Carla Marinucci an opening to mention something that certainly rings true from this writer's history of covering events dating back to the early 1960s.
"The first city council meeting I attended," Marinucci reported, "the mayor asked me to get him coffee." That, at least, may be a reason to forgive way-too-early discussions about a potential president of the United States -- who happens to be a woman.