The geriatric clown show known as the “race” for the 2016 nomination of the Atherosclerosis Party is now well and truly underway, as elderly challengers rise in opposition to the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua:
A once-sleepy Democratic presidential primary contest is fast coming alive as Hillary Rodham Clinton’s poll numbers fall and a diverse array of long-shot opponents step forward to challenge her. The recent developments mark a dramatic evolution in the 2016 sweepstakes, which until now has been shaped by the large assortment of hopefuls on the Republican side, where there is no front-runner.
The latest Democrat to enter the race is Lincoln Chafee, a onetime Republican and former Rhode Island governor and senator, who launched his campaign Wednesday in Northern Virginia. Though his candidacy is quixotic, Chafee’s sharp attacks on Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy record — and in particular her 2002 vote to authorize the war in Iraq — could nonetheless complicate her march to the nomination.
Chafee joins an underfunded and jumbled field of Clinton rivals who see the favorite’s coziness with Wall Street and political longevity as weaknesses and who think she is vulnerable to a grass-roots contender who better captures the party’s liberal soul.
And just who might they be? Well, there’s the ancient commie pornographer — oops, excuse me! the “fiery populist” — Bernie Sanders of Vermont. And hunky Martin O’Malley, the failed but shirtless former mayor of (shhhhhhh) Baltimore. And wacky Jim Webb, the former senator from Virginia, who may be the sanest and most decent one of the bunch.
“We’ve always thought there would be challengers,” Clinton campaign chairman John D. Podesta said in an interview Wednesday. “There were always going to be people saying she wasn’t this enough, wasn’t that enough, wasn’t populist enough.” He added: “Our strategy at the moment is to welcome them into the race and lay out our program versus theirs. . . . There will be debates. These candidates will get their airtime. But what we’re focused on is telling her story, what her vision for the country is.”
Polls show that Clinton’s popularity is foundering with her reemergence as a political candidate, effectively erasing the bipartisan approval she enjoyed as secretary of state. More Americans said they held an unfavorable opinion of Clinton than a favorable one, 49 percent to 45 percent, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll this week. Among independent voters, the figure is worse: 55 percent unfavorable to 39 percent favorable.
Pass the popcorn.