George Pataki? GEORGE PATAKI!? Lord love a duck! Is there no end of these vanity candidates? Could there be any reason for this guy to run other than to be able to one day tell his great-grandchildren that he once ran for president? Or perhaps he’s convinced someone has to fill the Jon Huntsman role this cycle. (You remember Jon, the socially liberal Republican who got dozens of votes in the various primaries in 2012. And some of these voters weren’t related to him. It’s not Jon’s fault that he’s now too obscure even to be the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question.)
Pataki is the latest in a scrum of Republican candidates and possible candidates-to-be whose best chance of seeing the inside of 1600 is to get in line with the rest of the tourists. Pataki is charitably described at a “long shot.” Damn straight a long shot. Longer than the Apollo flights.
Let’s review: Bobby Jindal is a really smart guy and has demonstrated competence in the train-wreck that is Louisiana government. But his wonk is no longer selling in La., let alone across the country. Rick Santorum did fairly well in the 2012 primaries, but against a weaker field. And his petulant style doesn’t help him attract voters beyond the social and religious conservatives who like him. Then there’s Huckleberry, a personable fellow who is an excellent retail campaigner. But his brand of right populism appeals only to a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the Republican base. I won’t abuse time and good taste by mentioning Donald Trump. And Rick Perry is too busy trying to memorize a list of government agencies he might wish to abolish to campaign much. If Pat Paulsen were still with us, his candidacy would be as credible as some of these and far more entertaining.
Truth is there are just three serious candidates in the race, possibly a fourth if Carly Fiorina keeps saying interesting things on the campaign trail. These candidates know who they are, as do any voters paying attention. One of these will eventually rise to the top. The rest is just clearing brush. Maybe the great-grandchildren will enjoy the stories of the Great Race of ’16. But if you aren’t one of these, it does strike you as a lot of wasted effort.
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