2016 Already in Danger of Jumping the Shark

Little that’s written about now will matter in 2016.

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Sen. Ted Cruz, (R-Texas), speaks during the family leadership summit in Ames, Iowa Saturday Aug. 10, 2013. Republican presidential hopefuls are hoping to impress conservative voters at the conference organized by an influential Christian group. The daylong event will be one of many candidate cattle calls in the grueling run-up to the 2016 presidential election. None of the potential contenders appearing Saturday has declared candidacy. Conservative voters could be key to a 2016 victory in Iowa's caucuses, the nation's first presidential nominating event.

Hillary Clinton is doing a political event! Ted Cruz is in Iowa! Joe Biden is going to Iowa! The RNC is whining that Hillary is getting too much coverage! Rand Paul is blissfully unaware of the country's fiscal situation! The news vacuum that is late summer – which in past years has given us 2001's "Summer of the Shark" – seems destined this year to be filled by the latest minutiae related to the 2016 presidential race.

But the gang at NBC's "First Read" makes a great point this morning about why, while it's entertaining grist for the Beltway speculation mill, everyone should take a deep breath and chill out just a bit. Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro and Jessica Taylor dial up the way-back machine and recall how things stood at this point (August, three years out) in the 2008 presidential cycle:

…no one viewed Barack Obama as an ‘08 presidential contender (in fact, he had served just seven months in the U.S. Senate). Also at this point in the '08 cycle, Hillary Clinton was seen as the overwhelming favorite on the Democratic side. (How did that turn out?) Back then, George Allen (R-VA) was considered at the least the co-frontrunner for the GOP nomination. (He lost his bid for re-election a year later.) And at this point in the 2008 cycle, George W. Bush had yet to see his poll numbers nosedive (Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. on Aug. 29, 2005).

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]

Maybe four or eight years from now we'll look back and conclude that since President Hillary Clinton's election was a foregone conclusion in August, 2013 early frontrunners are invincible. Or maybe we'll wonder why anyone thought that she would do any better the second time around than the first. Or maybe we'll open our eyes in wonderment that Ted Cruz and Rand Paul were ever taken seriously as presidential contenders (maybe some of us do that already).

But three years is an awfully long time. And the odds are better that 2016 will jump the shark before too long than that much or all of the fine-comb coverage of the presidential race will be remembered in three years.

More likely we'll look back at this as the "Summer of the Sharknado."

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