Thursday, April 26, 2012

In Defense of Insane 2016 Stories

Politico (natch) is running a big Maggie Haberman story about Dem HW 2016 today, and from what I see over the twitter machine she, and they, are taking a fair amount of heat over it.

Sorry, world, but facts are facts. The Democratic invisible primary for 2016 is only a few months away -- or, perhaps, has already started. If it's already started, then it's an important news story that should be covered by the press. Even if it hasn't quite started yet -- and it's not as if there's a formal starting gate with a bell that goes off -- it's close enough that there can be, I don't know, pre-campaigning. Real events.

Now, I haven't even read Haberman's story yet, so I have no idea whether she does a good job or not. And part of a good job is definitely tossing in quite a few caveats, including the reminder that Barack Obama really didn't start running until 2006, and that there are lots of examples of politicians who began positioning themselves for a White House run but then eventually backed away long before the real running began.

Still: the truth is that a lot of the important events in the Republican nomination contest this time around seem to have happened very early in the cycle. People might with that presidential elections took place only in the election year, but that just isn't the world that we live in. And reporters need to cover the real world, not the one we wish we lived in.


  1. The one who has used the time since 2008 to best position for 2016 is Hillary Clinton. I will not forgive her for the racist subtext of so much of her campaign's increasing desperation, but her tenure at State has been well-played broadly put. I look at her performance and it makes her look like she could handle the Presidency, whatever policy aside.

    Take Biden as a counter-example. Doesn't come off as Presidential.

  2. No one's saying that it doesn't matter who runs in 2016, or that those decisions aren't being made now. People make fun of Haberman's story and others like it because they don't actually tell the reader anything. I went into that story knowing that there were rumors about Cuomo and Clinton running, and came out knowing the same thing.

    Politico is "getting heat" because they treat a former deputy mayor to going on the record with some pure speculation as worthy of front-page treatment.

  3. "The Democratic invisible primary for 2016 is only a few months away -- or, perhaps, has already started."

    Now, the Dutch, on the other hand, just called an early election, and the whole thing will be done and decided on September 11.

    1. Yes, but when were their party leaders chosen?

    2. Make that September 12. (Must have been a Freudian slip.)

  4. I am always down for making fun of Politico, but JB is right that if you involved in Democratic politics either as a committed activist or as someone who works professionally in the world of left leaning American politics it is time to start thinking about 2016. Since Politico caters both to political junkies and to people who work in DC think tanks or state legislatures or as campaign professionals its totally fair game to write about it this early. It's normal to do stuff like this in other fields like sports (stories about high school protegees and how they will change the NFL years before they can go pro) or in technology (every other article in Wired is about some new technology that will change everything in 5 years). My biggest problem is that I see Empire State Democrats as a bunch of incompetent bunglers who can't win the Mayor's office or even hold on to their Congressional seats and I think that angle should be in the story. Oh and the last Democrat to win the Presidency from the Northeast? JFK.

  5. Is it possible that the campaign hasn't started for a frontrunner, like HRC, but is very much ongoing for the marginal characters? If its true that Romney won the 2012 Republican nomination after the SC primary, did anything change for him between, say, McCain winning the 2008 Republican nomination and the 2012 SC primary? Or was he (more or less) the same broadly despised, waiting-for-something-better frontrunner the entire time?

    Similarly, has anything about HRC's 2016 bid changed in her last, say, 6 months at state?

    By contrast, I could easily believe that the nomination of Huntsman as Obama's ambassador to China, in May 2009, pretty much ended Huntsman's 2012 Presidential bid - right then and there.

  6. All good points, JB. BUT.....

    horse-race type stories really do nobody any good this far out. So, stories on who's setting up PACs to bribe, I mean donate to, Iowa politicians are useful. Stories speculating on how so-and-so's resume is likely to resonate with older voters in 2016 are not.


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