Why 2016’s Hopefuls Are Hopeless

P.J. O’Rourke picks and analyzes the top ten candidates for the 2016 election.

11.22.14 11:51 AM ET


Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren

She of the Native American ancestry.


As well you might ask. But if she gets her own casino it will be a fund-raising plus.

Senator Warren taught at Harvard and is an expert in bankruptcy law, so she has plenty of direct connections to the smarty-pants Ivy Leaguers who ruined the U.S. economy.

As a minority and a woman and a politician who chased Scott Brown over the state line into New Hampshire, showing buff chauvinist Republicans where to stick their glutes, Senator Warren is a get-out-the-vote triple threat for the Dems.

She masterminded the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is why we Americans feel so financially protected these days and are going out and consuming like heck. (U.S. consumer spending rose .4% in June!)

And Senator Warren is over on the left—the only direction given by the special GPS unit installed in the Prius that a vegan aroma therapist Democratic primary voter drives.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary retains an iron grip on second place for the Democratic presidential nomination. And whoever is out in front of her is so far out in front that we don’t know who it is.

Hillary—former this, former that, and former the other thing (during her husband’s frolic with Monica Lewinsky).

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She carries more baggage than the Boeing 757 she used as Secretary of State, visiting every country in the world that would later blow up or fall to pieces in her quest to fulfill the primary mission of the Secretary of State, which is to accumulate frequent flier miles.

But, on the upside, she is already familiar with the White House—knows where the extra toilet paper is stored and where the spare key to the nuke attack briefcase is hidden (Truman Balcony, behind second pillar from the right).

And expect the threat of Bill campaigning for her to be overcome: the ex-First lady has improved her aim with candy dishes, china figurines, and table lamps.

Vice President Joe Biden

Joe on Barack Obama: “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

Joe on diversity: “In Delaware, the largest growth of population is Indian Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”

Joe on the Economic Stimulus Package: “If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, there’s still a thirty percent chance we’re going to get it wrong.”

Joe, to the President, on the Affordable Care Act: “This is a big fucking deal.”

Joe further expressing his faith in the Affordable Care Act: “I’m told Chuck Graham, state senator is here. Stand up Chuck, let ‘em see you.” (Former Missouri State Senator Chuck Graham is paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair.)

Joe on President Obama’s foreign policy: “Remember, I said it standing here, if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, were going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

Joe on building bridges to the opposition: “Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more qualified than I am to be Vice President of the United States.”

Has anyone ever spoken for the common man the way Joe does?

Former Vice President Al Gore

Another Dem who has been just a heart-beat (or a lamp bash) away from being president.

And like the current president he won a Nobel Peace Prize for… I’ll get back to you on that.

Al has bipartisan appeal. He dumped Tipper, his wife of 40 years. Well—off Republicans do that all the time.

And our Middle East policy is in good hands with Al. He sold his worthless Current TV cable network to Al Jazeera for $500 million. Al knows how to deal with these people.

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius

“Honesty is the best policy.”

Voters aren’t dummies. They know government doesn’t work. Why run a candidate who lies about making government work better when you’ve got a candidate who’s already proven she can make government work worse?

Secretary Sebelius is truthful. After the disastrous roll-out of Obamacare in 2013, she told the public, “You deserve better. I apologize.” As a moment of political candor it’s not up there with former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s “I was drunk and smoking crack.” But it’s more honest than what we usually hear from politicians.

And having been governor of Kansas should give her a leg up in the Iowa Caucuses because nobody, including residents of Kansas and Iowa, can tell Iowa and Kansas apart.


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

After his Oct. 29th encounter with a heckler, Governor Christie is back in the GOP primary lead with 2016’s top bumper sticker, SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP.

Political pundits claim Christie-style won’t play west of the Jersey Shore or north of the GW Bridge. These pundits were raised by pot-smoking single moms and went to Montessori schools.

“Sit down and shut up” was how all important family discussions began and ended where the rest of America grew up. It’s been years since America’s “family of voters” has heard such a concise statement of foreign and domestic policy goals.

Meanwhile, supposed Christie career-ender “Bridgegate”? Fugeddaboutit. The rest of the nation was, like, “New Jersey has traffic jams? Next you’ll be telling me New Jersey has political corruption.”

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul

Worry-wart Country Club Republicans say, “How about his father?” I say, “How about his father!” Ron Paul gives Rand Paul the populist touch, something for Rand to have in common with all voters, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Because everybody’s dad spouts off like that, parked in the Barcalounger watching too much Fox News. Rand feels our pain.

Rand Paul will also bring to the Oval Office libertarian principles of individual dignity, individual freedom, and individual responsibility. I feel I can trust him. That is, I feel I can trust him to keep mum about having principles—especially the last one—until after he’s elected or maybe longer.

Sadly, Rand does not bring much in the way of diversity to the GOP ticket. He’ll need the right VP choice. All points look-out for a transgender Republican!

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

But who says Republicans aren’t diverse?

Bobby’s (legal!) immigrant dad is an engineer. His immigrant mom studied nuclear physics. To paraphrase Joe Biden, “You cannot go to a university engineering department or a physics department unless you have a slight Indian accent.”

Governor Jindal responded so quickly and vigorously to Louisiana’s 2008 Hurricane Gustav that nobody even remembers Gustav’s name anymore. An object lesson in how to handle Hurricane Putin.

Jindal did prove to be a bit of a mumble-tongue in his 2009 official Republican response to President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress. But what Republican other than Ronald Reagan has ever been a “Great Communicator”? Sit down and shut up.

Governor Jindal seems like a good guy, intelligent, reasonable. He could, as a fallback, partner well with Big Squish-Em, Dis-Em Chris. This would be valuable in such things as those addresses to joint sessions of Congress.

Vice President Jindal: “Here is a good, intelligent, and reasonable plan for legislative action.”

President Christie: “Sit down and shut up.”

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

He’s got everything.

He’s young (for a Republican), just 61.

He was a Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Texas. Hook ‘Em, Horns!

He was a successful businessman.

And a successful two-term Governor of a state where the balloting incompetence and idiocy is absolutely vital to the GOP.

He’s fluent in Spanish. His wife is Hispanic. His children are too! He’s sure to move, temporarily, from Coral Gables to Houston so he can choose fellow Floridian Marco Rubio as his running mate. Kiss the Latino vote goodbye, Democrats.

John Ellis Bush has just one problem. Perhaps you can take a “Bush-league” guess what it is. But don’t worry. Jeb is all set to legally change his name to “Scott Walker.”

Michele Bachmann/Sarah Palin

“Booty and Bullets”

How long has it been since the Republican Party had a smoking hot presidential ticket?

Warren “Hunky” Harding and Cal “Cool” Coolidge in 1920?

Sure, Bachmann and Palin are crazy. But 42.9 million Americans over age 18 suffer some form of mental illness. That’s 30 percent of the popular vote right there.