How Will the 2016 Presidential Candidates Get Ready If the 2012 Campaign Doesn’t Start?

They were playing “Sleigh Ride” in the CVS when I went in to get diapers. I know, even noticing the fact makes me poor man’s Andy Rooney, grump-grump-grump, IT’S NOT CHRISTMAS YET, grump-grump, but come on: “Sleigh Ride.” There’s nothing enjoyable about the song; it’s just a ritualized indicator of The Season. Even if we’re all living in an anticipatory future all the time, can’t anyone be a little discriminating? I don’t want to hear “Sleigh Ride” on a 50-degree November day with drizzle blowing through the yellow leaves any more than I want to eat roast turkey for dinner tonight.

Meanwhile, Dan Balz is in the Washington Post

wondering why the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination hasn’t gotten started yet

. Here is is, two full weeks since the 2010 midterm elections, and hardly any candidates are running. At a similar point in—let’s see, two whole years before the 2008 election would have been 2006?—in 2006, prospective candidates were much more active, Balz reports.

Candidates are gauging fundraising needs and laying plans. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) will be in Iowa this month. But the timetable for announcements and serious engagement has been pushed into next year.


Compared with previous campaigns, no Republican dominates the field. No one can claim - or seemingly wants to claim - front-runner status. Thus, few fear that holding off for a while will damage their chances of winning the nod. 

Balz floats theories about why candidates might be moving more slowly than they did four years ago: the upheaval of the election of the new (yet-to-be-seated) Congress, the later start to the nomination contests. He doesn’t mention that back in 2006, the race might have been more attractive because George Bush was in his second term, meaning that the presidency was guaranteed to go to somebody who was not already the president. Why should anybody be in a hurry to be Walter Mondale, if the economy bounces back?

But, whatever, details. Politics is about nothing but running for office, and so what’s a political writer going to do if nobody’s running for office yet? Follow Sarah Palin around on book tour?

But by all indications, her small staff is not engaged in any campaign planning.

Here’s an idea: maybe the problem with the Republican aspirants isn’t that they’re too fast, but that they’re too slow. Leave the has-beens like Newt Gingrich to ponder what they may or may not do in 2012, and go get a jump on covering the 2016 primaries. That’s the year

Ben Quayle

will be turning 40. Let’s go ahead and call him the front-runner. The future is there for the taking!