Why Don’t Some Politicans Just Give Up Running for President?

Source: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sometimes the political norm can be hilarious. Just because U.S. politics have developed into what they are today through years of changes based on clashing necessities or retaining old traditions doesn’t mean that they are any less laughable at times. The filibuster makes for a perfect example. Just last year, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) stood and spoke for over 21 hours in a filibuster against Obamacare, at one point even reading his daughters a bedtime story with Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham — as shown below.

So it’s fairly easy to agree that politics can be, at times, ridiculous. And elections are no exception. In particular, I’m referring to 2016 and the rather hilarious stream of almost-but-not quite election announcements that we’ve been seeing for almost a year now. It’s like a small child tugging on their mother’s dress for no apparent reason. “I’m here, I’m here! Don’t forget about me,” cries the child, “’cause I might need to borrow some money soon.”

Of course, candidates have good reason for being so evasive. When asked, they have to give some sort of answer, and if they plan to run, they can hardly deny the possibility. However, if they do hope to run in 2016 — should conditions allow — it’s bad planning to announce it any earlier than is necessary, because it gives critics several extra months to bash your name, and it draws out some of the electoral attention rather than making it a focused punch around the time others announce their candidacy — almost like showing up too early to a party; not only is it weird, but it’s not crowded enough yet to hide the mustard stain on your pants. Still, just because it’s a politically understandable runaround, doesn’t make the statements that result any less hilarious. Ambiguity and squirming non-committal statements can be awfully funny. Let’s look at a few of the funnier avoidance tactics we’ve seen so far. Jim Webb

Former Senator Jim Webb is the under-under dog candidate for the Democratic party — though he was formerly a Republican — and has released a rather long, somewhat dry, 14-minute video announcing the possibility that he’ll consider running. “I have decided to launch an Exploratory Committee to examine whether I should run for president in 2016,” said Webb over three minutes into his tirade on gridlock. “I look forward to listening and talking with more people in the coming months as I decide whether or not to run.”

Jeb Bush

Most recently, f0rmer Florida Governor Jeb Bush has not-exactly-but-kind-of added his name to the hat in a Facebook post — because that’s how things are done these days — saying, “As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.” No one ever just runs for president — you have to actively explore it, launch committees discussing it, and of course publish a book or three.

Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden was initially more on the nose about running in an interview with Politico, saying, “I’d tell you. I honest to God haven’t made up my mind. I don’t see any sense of urgency in making that decision, quite frankly.” But then of course this spiraled out into his work as vice president that is still ongoing, why it “wouldn’t be appropriate” to announce that decision even if he made it, and then qualifying that once again with, “But I don’t think that precludes me from running.”

Mitt Romney

Romney, who lost his last bid for the presidency, is being even more ambiguous than others, who at least add a “nudge nudge, wink wink” to their statements. When asked about a potential run in 2016, he told an interviewer, “I had the chance of running. I didn’t win. Someone else has a better chance than I do. And that’s what we believe, and that’s why I’m not running.” Pretty clear cut, right? But then he goes on to say — according to New York Magazine —  “And you know, circumstances can change, but I’m just not going to let my head go there.”

It makes Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) very definitive “I told them, I’m not running for president,” rather refreshing, especially when it was followed up by “I am not running for president,” and “I am not running for president. Do you want me to put an exclamation point at the end?” in an interview with NPR.

Watching some candidates prepare to run — or not run, who knows? — is like watching the weather. You don’t wait for the rain, you look for the clouds. In the case of Sen. Ted Cruz, the clouds are opting out of his dual citizenship with Canada, or, with Rand Paul, the clouds are a fight against a Kentucky law that would prevent him from running if it stands.

Follow Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @AntheaWSCS

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