I keep getting asked to predict 2016.
Predicting an election this far out is a sucker's bet.
There are far, far too many variables in play - and at this point in time at least 50% of those variables are unknowable unknowns.
As I said, making a prediction now is a sucker's bet.
But then, I am a sucker for this sort of thing.
At this point, given the skimpy data, the few candidates who've actually declared, the fickle mood of voters, the sullen demeanor of the country, and a roll of the ten sided dice for good measure...
... I suspect the final duel will be: Hillary vs Jeb.
I can’t hazard even the vaguest guess as to who their Seconds will be.
As noted many times: Hillary Clinton is a hawkish corporate social liberal and she brings along a lot of baggage.
However, Clinton’s baggage was acquired by the very experience that makes her such a strong candidate. If she didn't have any baggage, she wouldn't even be in the race. If she and her advisors thought for one second that she couldn't resoundingly overcome her critics and turn her past to her advantage, she wouldn't be running.
Because whatever else Hillary Clinton is, she's a savvy, shrewd, cunning, and experienced politician who relishes being in the ring.
And she tends to eat her enemies kicking and screaming.
Jeb Bush shares a similar background - with the added advantage of his family's political dynasty.
And you should never underestimate the power of family and connections when it comes to politics.
Bush is a hawkish corporate social conservative who has his own load of baggage.
He hasn't declared yet, but a lot of people - including me - think he will once the unelectable fanatics blow their collective wads.
Jeb's best strategy is to let the Tea Partiers and the Libertarians flash loud and crazy – hell, get Ben Carson in the race – let the traditional GOP establishment begin to panic at the thought of Hillary Clinton (and they are, they are. When you float the idea of Dick Cheney for your party’s candidate, you're panicking) then step in as the "sane," reasonable, proven conservative candidate.
The conservative press and the NRC are largely ignoring Paul, Cruz, and Rubio, they don't take any of them seriously.
I think they're waiting for Jeb Bush.
As I said, a sucker's bet and there's still plenty of time for a charismatic unknown to emerge on both sides.
But if I was forced to put money on it now, I'd place my bet on Clinton vs Bush.
Whatever else 2016 is, it'll be interesting.