It is, in case you have not noticed, the summer of 2013. There are all kinds of things to pay attention to.
There are those cicadas (no one’s written a think piece on them in a while, and that concerns me).
There is every minute detail of what goes on in Anthony Weiner’s undershorts. There are books — and there are the members of your actual family.
And yet we’re already talking Hillary Clinton and potential GOP match-ups. There are actual polls circulating to determine who people want on their tickets — three years from now! I never make plans that far in advance.
What if my kidney stopped working all of a sudden?
What if I fell down a sewer and died?
Yet I have seen actual headlines that run as follows:
“Rand, Rubio and Christie duke it out in foretaste of 2016 match-up” ... “Hillary Hillary Hillary Hillary Hillary Hillary Can’t Come Soon Enough Hillary Hillary Hillary” ... “Already Bought My Inauguration Tickets Woo-hoo Hillary Hillary Hillary.”
“But Will She Run? ... “Monopoly Man In A Top Hat vs. The Giving Tree, 2036 — How Does Cory Booker Factor In?”
“If Chris Christie loses so much weight that he disappears entirely, will America accept him in 2032?”
“Promising 2048 Candidate Already Being Photographed in Fetching FUTURE PRESIDENT Bib, Even Though Her Parents Think It’s Ironic.” ... “Dark-Horse 2052 Candidate Just Conceived!!!!”
“What Are The Prospects Of Donald Trump, Successfully Awakened From Cryogenic Deep Freeze After 50 Years, In A Toss-Up GOP Primary 60 Years From Now? How About 72?” ... “Ross Perot 2060: America’s First Ghost President?”
“Giant Transparent Tent Of Sex-Positive Parents vs. Big Ol’ Plate Full of Defiant Gluten With A Bible Verse On It — Are We Suffering 2072 Election Fatigue Yet?”
“Sasha Obama Not Ruling Out A 2040 Run But Says Speculation Is Premature.” ... “ASTEROID HEADED FOR EARTH: If We Make It Out, How Will This Impact The 2036 Match-Ups?”
This is going too far is all I’m saying.
If this were any other subject, our friends would already have taken us aside and staged an intervention, but somehow we have decided that this fixation is a harmless eccentricity, like being a Scientologist, rather than a menace to society, like smoking a single cigarette even once.
But can we put a hold on this 2016 speculation?
Political statistician Nate Silver points out that all pundits are useless wastes of space, and the sooner we start speculating, the more obvious this will become to everyone.
If we can’t stop speculating cold turkey, allow me to propose a guideline.
Call it the Elephant Rule: Don’t speculate on the election until that election is one elephant gestation period away.
Elephants have very long gestational periods, up to 680 days. We should hold off on speculating about people with elephant pins until we hit that range.
That only delays us until December 2014, anyway, which — in speculative election terms — is practically tomorrow.
Alexandra Petri is a columnist for The Washington Post.