Raise your hand if you’re running for president.
OK, now raise your hand if you’re interested in running for president; if you’re just thinking about it, or considering it, or exploring the idea.
Wow, that’s a lot of hands.
The latest and least surprising non-entrant into the ever-expanding non-campaign for Maybe the White House was US Representative Seth Moulton who, in a recent interview with Buzzfeed News, confirmed . . . well, nothing, really.
“I’m thinking about running for president,” Moulton told BuzzFeed News. “I’m not definitely running, but I’m going to take a very hard look at it. A very serious look at it.”
This guy talks about running for president the way I talk about running on the treadmill.
Moulton joined the growing ranks of Democrats and Howard Schultzes who aren’t running for president, but . . . they’re not not running for president, either, if you (*wink*) know what they mean.
Call them the POTeases: various in esteem but infinite in number. A POTease is someone who would very much like to be president but is terrified of committing the hubristic cardinal sin of admitting it — your Eric Holders, your Sherrod Browns, your Betos O’Rourke.
It is, let’s just say it, a little annoying. It is also an act as old as time, and/or Joe Biden — who, as it happens, is himself a POTease for what feels like the 20th time. At least Bernie Sanders finally answered the question Tuesday: He’s in.
If you’re very publicly thinking about running for president, then you’re already running for president. You’re just trying to do it without the soul-crushing embarrassment of discovering that no one cares. If you never admit you’re in the race, you never have to admit you lost.
Tally up all the candidates announced and rumored and you’ve got a field so sprawling that it makes the unwieldy 2016 Republican primary feel intimate. Eric Swalwell, Brian Fantana, Pete Buttigieg: Two of these are Democratic presidential hopefuls, and one is a character from the movie “Anchorman.” If you know which is which it’s probably because you really like “Anchorman.”
Against this backdrop, it’s not surprising that Moulton is throwing his hat in the general direction of the ring, maybe: He’s from Massachusetts. Every pulse-having politician in this state who isn’t Ed Markey believes, with a poorly concealed fervor, that they should be America’s next president.
Never mind that our collective record since JFK is more Rod Rust than Bill Belichick. The persistent fantasy seems to go like this: Times are tough. America is not yet great again. And so a desperate nation turns to the Bay State, where (deep breath) Henry Cabot Lodge Jr./Ted Kennedy/Paul Tsongas/Michael Dukakis/John Kerry/Mitt Romney/Elizabeth Warren/Bill Weld is hurrying to the rescue on some manner of personal watercraft.
This is really not that big a state, but West Wing fever has swept it like a highly communicable disease.
Bill Weld? Call the CDC, because this thing is hot-airborne. (Credit where it’s due, though. Weld’s candidacy appears to be mostly an elaborate and expensive way to troll Donald Trump.)
Having a lot of qualified candidates — from Massachusetts or anywhere else — seems like a good thing. Primary voters should be capable of parsing the policy and personality differences between Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Amy Klobuchar.
But the Republican primary in 2016 was giant, too, and the result wasn’t exactly careful winnowing and measured consideration. Dividing the votes up a dozen ways doesn’t make the party more likely to end up with the best candidate, or even some sort of reasonable compromise. Instead, they were left with whichever weirdo was still standing there.
Wouldn’t the country and the candidates be better served if some of these folks stayed home and ran for office? O’Rourke, who seems likely to enter the race if he ever gets off of Instagram for a minute, is a perfect example. Senator John Cornyn is up for reelection in Texas in 2020, and O’Rourke could surely wage a competitive campaign in a state that appears to be changing.
Leave it to wonderful Stacey Abrams to get it just right.
The woman who should now be governor of Georgia has so far resisted the calls to run for president that intensified after she delivered a memorable response to the State of the Union address. Instead, she appears well-positioned to win a Republican-held Senate seat in 2020, should she decide to run.
Man, she’s great, isn’t she?
She should really run for president.