A scrum of Republicans spent the weekend in New Hampshire pretending they wanted to be there. Among the events on offer were “Politics and Pie” and “Politics and Eggs.” If those are the menus, perhaps some of the candidates will die? If so, a few of them might even be missed.
There are two-dozen candidates not including the New Hampshire perennial, Vermin Supreme, who wears a tall rubber boot on his head. Vermin’s role is to enable the other candidates to think themselves serious. (Brazen Self-Adulation Alert: how many other pundificators do you know who have now written about Vermin Supreme twice?)
There are about 81 weeks until Election Day and yes I am providing the time frame in weeks because there are certain things women like to count that way. To put this in perspective, if two elephants got together about now, they would become parents before we knew our next president. By contrast the UK takes 38 days to choose a government – a bit longer than creating a new groundhog but a bit shorter than creating a new squirrel.
One does wonder why some of these candidates venture into the mud of New Hampshire’s early Spring to subject themselves to political eggs and pie, but we should probably credit them with being clever enough to avoid the dreaded black flies that will appear in May.
Two reasons come to mind.
First, they are really running for something else and this is a publicity stunt (just like Vermin Supreme).
Second, this is a job for which the candidates are paying themselves.
Yes, you heard that right. A candidate is allowed to pay himself a salary from his principal campaign committee as long as it is no higher than the lesser of the pay for the office sought ($400,000) or the amount earned by the candidate in the prior year.
If a candidate can find donors dumb enough to allow it, he can run for President 24-7-365 and pay himself $400K while charging virtually all of his expenses to the campaign. He can also pay fair market value salaries to his family members as long as they are making themselves useful.
No need to worry about retirement because the eggs and pie should kill him before that happens.
Though the candidate might not care, the parties have squadrons of campaign operatives whom they would like to keep busy lest they lose heart and become life insurance salesmen. No-hope candidates are the training camp for electionistas hoping to get to the majors. The parties get a free look at potential rising stars. Sounds like the NFL using college football as a minor league.
As long as we have unlimited campaign contributions and a terrible education system resulting in a sufficient number of stupid people to make donations, you should continue to expect dozens of candidates to run multiyear campaigns.
Hence, there will be an endless need to sort them out.
There are as many ways to group the candidates as there are people pretending they know the right answers.
The New York Time Upshot likes: Invisible Primary Leaders (favored by party elites), Mainstream Alternatives (Democrats believe that there are none of these on the Republican side because all Republicans are but one iteration of Vermin Supreme or another); and Factional Favorites.
Factional Favorites means more or less pick one from each of these: establishment; Tea Party; secular conventional conservative; and social cultural evangelical. This suggestion, made during March Madness, when we were all focused on brackets, would end up with a political final four featuring the survivor in each category.
Charles Krauthammer favors first tier, second tier, longer shots and below the radar. There are many candidates he leaves out so, presumably, they are in a category called below the sonar. (For those who know more about the UN than the Pentagon, radar looks for flying things while sonar looks for submarines.)
Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball uses First Tier – Leading Contenders, Second Tier – Outsiders and Third Tier – Governor Alternatives.
Nobody has any idea which approach is correct or if any of them shed any light on anything, but they sound good.
With that low bar to jump, here are the libertyPell rankings of the candidates, from bottom to top, based on their reason for running for something but maybe not President.
Payback Time for the Girl Who Wouldn’t be my Prom Date
I Don’t Want to be Fired on the Apprentice
Just Making Sure You Still Know Who I Am and Keeping My Speaking Fees High
Actually Running for Pope or Evangelical Equivalent
I Want to Run a Defense Company
Two- (or maybe Three-) Putt Green, Even if They Did Think 2016 Was Their Year
Running for Vice President
Keep My Name in the Paper and Because I Have the Backers
Actually Running for President in 2016
With the 21 time wasters who are running for something but maybe not president now dismissed, you end up with three real candidates: Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.
You are faced with two choices: pay attention to this foolishness now or come back in October 2016 when the British would. If you choose the latter, there are frolicking elephants to watch and that might be even more fun than Vermin Supreme.