As sure as chocolate-covered bacon is delicious, every four years D.C. packs a seemingly endless number of people into what I affectionately call the Clown Car of the Presidency. These are folks who, for reasons known only to God and their psychiatrists, not only want the Oval Office but believe they actually have a shot at it.
Now before you conservatives get your feathers all ruffled, I’m not aiming this at Ted Cruz. Sure, he’s the only “announced” candidate so far, and the Texas senator has mysteriously chosen the avant-garde campaign tactic of disavowing rock music and avocados. But I’m not out to get him. He has every right to run, and if I chance upon him, I will say what I say to every candidate: “Good luck!”
And I mean it, because trust me, most of them have not really thought this through.
The problem with running for very high office, whether you are well known like Hillary Clinton or basically unknown like…oh say, Mike Gravel…is that it is easy to find someone who will encourage you. That’s not always a good thing. Way too many times I’ve covered candidates whose poll numbers are non-existent, whose campaign funds aren’t much more than pocket change and yet who have smiling family members, friends, and colleagues assuring them that victory is just around the corner.
Barack Obama, who was a distant long shot at this point in his 2008 race, hasn’t helped matters a bit. The fact that he emerged from the pack, crushed all comers and won the whole shebang only reinforced the weird psychosis that makes people run in this town.
So like I said, over the next six months, you’ll see plenty of folks (some you know, a lot you don’t) jamming into the clown car with all their weird ideas, hopes and dreams for America. The sad part for them? In the end, only one can emerge victorious at the end of the ride. And honestly, in D.C. these days, even the winner may yet wind up looking like a bozo.
Tom Foreman is a political correspondent for CNN.