Obama’s Clock: Fast-Forward to 2016

Photograph by Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks out at the audience with Vice President Joe Biden at the end of the Vital Voices Global Awards ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington on April 2, 2013.

How early is too early?

This morning, we’re told that “political allies of Vice President Joe Biden have concluded that he can win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination — even if Hillary Clinton enters the contest.” So says the Journal.

Over the weekend, we were told that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is intent on running up the victory margin in his re-election this year as part of an early start on his 2016 campaign for president, which includes a “50-state fund-raising network” that has accounted for a third of his money flowing from out of state. So said the Times.

On Friday, we learned that the Republican National Committee had voted to exclude NBC and CNN from the debates of its 2016 presidential candidates because they are sponsoring programs about Clinton — which RNC Chairman Reince Priebus says will “put a thumb on the scales for the next presidential election.” So said Bloomberg and others.

And, as for Clinton, her “retirement” following a term as secretary of state has lasted about five nano-tweets. She already is out talking about voting rights and plans an address in Philadephia next month on “the balance and transparency need in national security,” as Bloomberg’s John McCormick reported Aug. 13.

All of which may have something to do with the term “lame duck” appearing in more and more headlines involving President Barack Obama, only seven months into his second term.

Bloomberg View’s Matthew Dowd recently said: “I think the president at this point in time in his presidency has to give the public a sense that he still has relevancy… I think he is at the point in time of his presidency — much of what happened to President Bush almost at the exact same time in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in September of 2005 in his second term — people are beginning to think, OK, we’re going to start thinking about the next president.”

And Obama’s approval ratings are much like Bush’s at this point in his presidency, notes Dowd, who conducted polls for Bush’s first campaign.

Clinton’s early speechifying, Biden’s eye on the biggest rival anyone in his party could face in 2016 and Christie’s early buzz can only add to that attention toward “the next president.”

Events also could conspire: Failure to win an immigration bill following bipartisan approval in the Senate, for instance — following the White House’s failure to win the most modest of gun controls in the aftermath of the Newtown schoolhouse shootings. Add to that the delays in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

A lot of activity around 2016 way too soon, combined with a lack of activity in 2013-14, could combine to accelerate the president’s own clock.


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