Jonah Goldberg notes with some amusement in his latest column at National Review Online that Democrats and Republicans appear to be trading strategies when it comes to selecting their next presidential candidate.
On the Democratic side for 2016, the two top-tier candidates, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden (stop laughing), are both next-in-liners. Clinton is the indisputable front-runner: She’s more popular; she was the runner-up in 2008; she’s the dashboard saint of elite feminist groups; and she and her husband have been working the party machinery nonstop while Biden has been, if you believe the Onion, waxing his vintage Trans Am in the White House driveway.
The contrast between the two parties is amazing.
To say that the GOP base has soured on this next-in-line thing is an understatement on par with “Dennis Rodman wouldn’t make an ideal baby sitter.” Talk to a conservative audience about the “next-in-line” habit and you’ll likely hear the sorts of boos and hisses you’d expect at a sports bar when you change the channel to a C-SPAN hearing on rural electrification.
Republicans want an outsider, which is why the senators aiming for the nomination — Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio — spend much of their time denouncing the city they work in. The governors — Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Chris Christie of New Jersey, Mike Huckabee, formerly of Arkansas — have it easier, but they certainly never miss an opportunity to express their disappointment in Washington. Wisconsin representative Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate in 2012, is the one candidate who could claim next-in-line status without setting off a riot, but he’s unlikely to run. Jeb Bush is beloved by the party establishment, but nothing short of a legal name change would appease the Tea Party.
Meanwhile, it’s not clear what the Democrats actually want. They certainly expect Clinton to be the nominee. But should they? She’s easily one of the most overrated political talents of the last quarter-century.