On Thursday, Jonathan Bernstein made a good point, Democrats Have No Bench? Be Serious. He’s been making the case that people should lay off the criticism of Hillary Clinton. A lot of people are making this assumption that Clinton is just being given the Democratic nomination for president out of some feelings of duty on our part — rather than her having earned it. The truth is that she would be the presumptive nominee regardless. But her four years as Secretary of State sealed the deal. As a result of that, there aren’t people lining up to run for the nomination. His point is that there are plenty of really qualified (And exciting!) Democrats to run.
But I’m focused on who the Republicans are running. Bernstein lists what he and most everyone else consider to be the top tier candidates: “Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Bobby Jindal.” Are we really supposed to think that these are great candidates? The only one on that list that strikes me at all interesting in a general election is John Kasich. Walker is exciting to the press because billionaires love him. Rubio continues to come off like a 12-year-old playing at being a Senator. And Jindal is destined to be the Herman Cain of of this election.
The fact that the Republicans think that a third Bush is their best route to the White House should be some indication of how desperate the party is. And he is the only person they have that dates from a time when the Republicans can claim to have been somewhat reasonable. And this is the guy who had a law passed so he could take control of the healthcare decisions of one particular woman. And he is the main “adult” that the Republicans have to run in 2016. That’s pathetic.
It makes me wonder just what it means to be a serious candidate for president. It seems that all it means is that the mainstream media take you seriously. There is a kind of tautology here where a candidate is serious because she is serious: the media take her seriously because the media take her seriously. And along with that is the media’s disinterest in anything substantial about a candidate. I keep coming back to Todd Akin, but his example is telling. Everyone knew that he was an abortion absolutist. But when he said the wrong words, the media decided that he was beyond the pale. And like the good social animals we are, many people just followed along.
At this point, does anyone really question but that Al Franken would make a perfectly good presidential candidate? He’s one person who Bernstein mentioned but who no one talks about. But it really doesn’t matter. If Clinton drops out or implodes, the vacuum will be filled with at least a few good candidates. In the end, it’s all going to come down to the economy in 2016. None of the Republican candidates pose a special problem, just like Ronald Reagan posed no special problem in 1980. It’s the economy, stupid.