What would you say if I told you that the 2016 election is under way? Sure, the caucus is a year from now and the actual election is nearly 2 years away, but that didn’t stop the saddest group of Republicans from heading to Des Moines this past weekend to get in some early stumping at the Iowa Freedom Summit.
The list of speakers was a Who’s Who of failed presidential ambitions: former Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum, former Governor from Texas Rick Perry, failed businessman and four-time bankruptee Donald Trump, former Hewlett-Packard head Carly Fiorina, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee and even former Vice Presidential nominee and former Governor (because she quit) Sarah Palin.
The speakers weren’t limited it to has-been politicians, though. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Senator Ted Cruz made appearances, as well as conservative darling Dr. Ben Carson, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
The group of 11 came to flirt with the notion of being the next President of the United States.
By far the most bizarre performance of the day was from none other than the eminently quotable Sarah Palin.
“It doesn’t have to be myself, but yes … happy to drive that competition, because competition will make everyone better and produce more and be more candid regarding their solutions they will offer this country. I am very interested in that competitive process and, again, not necessarily me.” –Sarah Palin on whether she would run for President in 2016.
This word salad is bad, but, really doesn’t hold a candle to this bit of inanity. It’s literally painful to watch and is perhaps her most disjointed statement ever. One wonders if Palin was entirely sober during her address. She honestly makes no sense as words just seem to gush from her mouth in a stream-of-consciousness that’s embarrassing. All one would need to do to tank her candidacy would be to play this piece as a stand-alone nugget to show just how incoherent she is.
The larger question is that why do so many of these people think they even stand a chance? Perry, Santorum, Huckabee, and Fiorina all had their asses handed to them quite handily 3 years ago the last election cycle. Trump and Palin made great shows of thinking about considering a possible run, and then pulled out.
Aside from the formerly-weres the up-and-comers were courting the conservative vote in Iowa.
For some reason Chris Christie thinks that Iowans will clutch him to their bosom. (This is just something I’m not feeling. His form of brash, ham-fisted politicking isn’t well received in fly-over country.) Ted Cruz took his schtick out for an early walk with corn-fed conservatives, declaring, “The most important tax reform we can do is abolish the IRS.” Scott Walker was pronounced the hit of the afternoon and vowed to return to Iowa many more times.
But for all the elbowing for facetime with the crowd, the attendees were as notable as those who were invited but took a pass on this weekend’s dog and pony show.
Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney were the biggest no-shows for the event. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Bobby Jindal also took a pass for the festivities. They clearly saw the event as unnecessary and a distraction to their actual candidacy.
So, by my count we’re up to 16 Republican hopefuls, and we’re still 2 years away from the election.
Why do people do it?
In the case of people like Bolton, Fiorina, Perry, Santorum, Huckabee and even Palin this toe-wetting is nothing more than a shameless attempt to bolster speaking fees, sell books and land a job as a talking head at Fox. All of these people know they don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being anywhere near the nomination. It’s a game of numbers to them.
Trump is nothing more than insufferable attention whore and the worst thing for him would be if we all ignored him.
Walker, Cruz, Christie, Rubio, Paul and Jindal actually think they stand a chance and will sadly waste donor’s money and their own political capital to feed their egos in an attempt to convince themselves they’re good enough to sit in the Oval Office.
That leaves our AWOL candidates… So, why would Mitt Romney think that people who didn’t want him twice before would want him now? What motivates Jeb Bush, who is behind his own ‘grassroots’ movement? These two seem to think there’s an inevitability to their candidacy, a sort of noblesse oblige to their runs.
What should be interesting over the next 2 years is how this huge field will weed itself out. There are bound to be a few more who will throw their hat in the ring like Herman Cain did in 2012, (Oh please let them be as entertaining!) but soon the weight of so many candidates will tip the scales and some will have to drop out. It will mostly be a matter of whose funds dry up first.
But, hopefully, that process of elimination will at least bring us some entertainment. We deserve at least some fun for the next 2 years we’re going to have to endure.
Who am I kidding? As long as we have Sarah Palin and Donald Trump we’ll have all the comic relief we need.