There's something so promising about the first column of a presidential campaign. It's like seeing the new shoots of corn creep out of the soil . . . if you then had to spend 31/2 years debating which ear would best attract female voters age 19-40.
With the recent acknowledgement that he's considering a presidential run, Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) kicked off the 2016 campaign. King's only talking about running to mess with potential libertarian Republican candidates like Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Further, he's as likely to become president of the United States as he is to become an imam. But the emergence of the quixotic candidates -- your Pete Kings and Tom Tancredos and Duncan Hunters and Dennis Kucinichs -- is a cue to start talking about contenders.
In this race, everything old will be new again.
Talk to people close to the Clintons, and on the record, they mention Hillary's desire for grandkids and charity work. Off the record?
One confidant said he asked the former secretary of state if she'll run in 2016 and she said, "You're goddamn right I am."
If she didn't desire the job, she wouldn't have run in 2008.
If Clinton still wants the nomination, it's hers, not just because she's the most beloved in the party, but because there are no political issues her Democratic rivals can use to create a contrast. The top Dems mostly all agree on everything.
A presidential debate between Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo and any other Democrats grasping for a podium would consist mostly of the candidates seconding each other's brilliance and the moderator snoring gently.
In comparison, the Republican presidential debates in 2016 will likely resemble a World Wrestling Federation battle royal, only with more folding chairs to the head and (one hopes) less aggressive cleavage. I don't see how Rand Paul and the man who only runs for president because "National Dean of Discipline" isn't an actual job, Rick Santorum, could hang out peaceably at the same block party, much less in the same political party. New Jersey's Chris Christie and Texan Rick Perry don't even speak the same dialect. Add in Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich and, yes, Pete King, and what emerges looks like a new season of "Survivor: Des Moines," not a nominating process.
Christie could win the presidency, but not the nomination. The others could win the party nod, but not the White House.
Who in the GOP has enough conservative street (or rural route) cred in the South to get the GOP nomination and a track record that will induce independents in the rest of the country to think, "He's not entirely #$%@¢&% crazy?"
The only answer is, as it has been for 30 years, Bush.
Jeb, this time.
Imagine this race.
"Aren't you just running for Obama's third term, Hillary?"
"No, I'm really running for Bill's third term. Or Gore's first. Or maybe FDR's fifth. Who's popular this week?"
Jeb, the former Florida governor, will face comparisons to his father, a prudent president who was not re-elected, and his brother, who undid every good thing his father accomplished, but got two terms.
They're both locks for their nominations if they run. Their families still control much of the party establishments, and both can raise crazy money just by announcing. And how would it play out?
As the closest election, by both popular vote and Electoral College tally, in our history.
Remember, you heard it here first. Unless I'm wrong, in which case I hope you forget it as easily as you do Pete King's candidacy.
Lane Filler is a member of the Newsday editorial board.