Sometimes I think the media live in a time warp. There's so much talk about Hillary Clinton and the expanding/shrinking/expanding field of possible Republican candidates, you'd think we're in the middle of an Olympics ratings battle.
The media focus on 2016 is like a "Rocky Horror Picture Show," without Rocky. It's really an obsession that is not only misguided but also does a disservice both to voters and candidates.
The two-year out speculation track record is pretty bad.
Yes, Clinton is dynamic. Even her most rabid detractors must admit that. But her dynamism is not a guarantee victory. Her nomination is not inevitable.
She knows upfront the toll campaigning demands and what being president exacts. As George Harrison said about being a Beatle, you have to give your nervous system.
If Clinton decides to run, she has to do so knowing it is a commitment that may last 11 years. She's 66. (Joe Biden, 71, and Mike Huckabee, 58, also have to consider their age.)
It's not just how old a person might be at the end of her, or his, term. The question is, will one have the energy and will power to finish the job? We age better and healthier, but being president is aging like nothing else.
Does Clinton want to make a time commitment that could amount to the rest of her life?
Another factor surely affecting Clinton's decision is her legacy. Despite repeated attempts by Republicans, she remains very popular. In a 2013 Gallup Poll she was named the woman people most admired. A presidential run would risk that popularity -- and the legacy she's built as a senator and secretary of state (not to mention former first lady). Of course, she could also leverage that popularity to lead our nation in a great new direction.
Potential candidates may also weigh on her mind. Who else might run if she doesn't? If the rest of the field looks weak, she might feel a sense of duty to her party and her country. If there are strong "next generation" candidates, she may be content, perhaps glad, to work for their success.
The point is that there are factors that may induce Hillary Clinton not to run, and nobody will know what will influence her decision -- until she decides.
Speculation about Republican candidates is even sketchier. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who only a few weeks ago seemed the prime-time contender, now appears on the ropes. Other prominent Republicans have also taken their hits recently -- understandable, given the current fighting among the factions. So, who knows?
I can make one prediction safely: Going through the list of who's up and who's down until the nomination(s) is (are) secured will make any roller coaster ride seem like a walk in the park.
I've got a name for the media's obsession with potential 2016 nominees, or really any idle speculation without substance -- talking-head-vacuum syndrome.
Instead of acting like junior high gossips though, the media might try focusing on real issues that are current and important. There are lots of them out there. I'll focus on one example.
Two years ago saw a breakthrough for women officeholders. I've written about this before: There are now 20 women senators. One of the big questions in 2014 is: Can Democrats retain control of the Senate?
"Conventional wisdom" held that it would be tough. But the game is changing, thanks to a couple of dynamic women candidates. In Georgia, which has been a Deep South Republican stronghold -- since 2010, they've held every statewide office -- Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, stands a good chance of becoming another woman senator -- and a Democratic one.
She is leading or tied with all her opponents in the polls. She has the advantages of a famous name in Georgia, a middle-of-the road message and lots of campaign discipline. Her father was known for his bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle -- and she's already following in his footsteps.
And although Georgia is staunchly conservative, the state's demographics are shifting, with more African-Americans returning and the immigrant population growing.
Then there's the race in Kentucky, where Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes holds a lead of 4 percentage points over Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell is arguably the most powerful Republican in the Senate, and if his seat -- if a seat in Kentucky is up for grabs -- the dynamics of the Senate need to be re-examined.
Trust me, if those two women win their seats, the ripple effect will become a tidal wave. And there are other races where women have raised the stakes. Wendy Davis' bid to be governor of Texas has drawn national attention and already reframed several of the issues in that state.
My point is that we're more than 1,000 days away from the inauguration of the next president, and there's a lot going on now that needs more attention from the media. This year could become a breakthrough for women in American politics. Let's give that the coverage it deserves.
The 2016 election can wait.