Joe Biden 2016 and the State of the Neverending Election Cycle

Dashiell Bennett
The Atlantic Wire

Barack Obama's second term is barely 48 hours old. Can we hold off on the 2016 chatter for awhile?

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The AP reported that Biden is "Stoking 2016 Chatterafter meeting with DNC delegates today and hosting New Hampshire's governor at his house during Inauguration weekend. (You know, the weekend when everyone comes to Washington because the new President is being inaugurated.) The Wall Street Journal says Biden's "Flashing Signs of a 2016 Run" while The New York Times thinks he merely has "an eye" on it. Some alternative headlines might be: "Second-Most Powerful Democrat Attends Democratic Meeting." Or "Vice President Has Friends in Town, Invites Them Over for Drinks."

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You've met Joe Biden, right? The dude is chummy with everyone. He also has a pretty important job with lots of functions, so if he shakes a few hands over the next 12 months, it doesn't automatically mean something more ominous. Especially when those hands are visting the city to honor the guy who was actually just elected president. Yet somehow this won't stop political reporters who are sensing the coming post-election doldrums to start speculating about an event we can't possibly predict this far out. 

The one and only @stupolitics says the 2016 race starts today. And he's right. So say we all.

— The Fix (@TheFix) January 22, 2013

ABC didn't even wait for the swearing-in, asking if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (who hasn't even fully recovered from a recent fall) should run for office in an election that's 46 months from now. Marco Rubio doing debate prep? Doesn't matter, because it's already Jeb's nomination to lose! Until Rand Paul shows up at CPAC (with every other Republican ever) and takes the pole position. And what's Beau Biden going to say? That he doesn't want his dad to become President someday?

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When it comes to an election that's ultimately two (or three) other important American elections away, none of these stories mean anything. Or maybe they mean everything, because all politicians are always running for something. Biden first ran for president 25 years ago. Did he ever really stop? Heck, he probably thought about being President the first time he ran for the Senate 40 years ago. So, yes, six terms in Congress followed by "8 years as incumbent Vice President" probably qualifies as "laying the groundwork."

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Stuart Rothenberg at Roll Call recounts how unlikely it seemed that Barack Obama was ready for a run in 2005, then helpfully rattles off a list of names that might repeat that unlikley feat. Like many others, Rothenberg knows its too soon, but can't help himself from guessing anyway.

It is never too early to ponder about the next step of the political ladder. And for some, the White House is the only rung that really matters

Of course, if that's your logic, then the race didn't really begin today. It began the moment the polls closed on November 6, 2012. Or better yet, the moment Romney locked up the nomination, sending all Republicans to Plan B. Or maybe it was November 2008, when Obama won the first time and everyone decided they wouldn't want to challenge him for a second term?

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The biggest question of 2016 is whether the journalists spouting horse race scenarios now, will be the same ones complaining about how campaigns have become endless in 2016. That's actually the only prediction that's likely to come true.