Presidential distraction


National media and some pundits are speculating about the 2016 presidential race. They’re kidding, right? Wrong.

The folks who think about such things are reading whatever tea leaves Hillary Clinton has left behind. Mrs. Clinton’s advocates are forming committees, raising money, and hiring operatives.

Polls are being taken. Apparently, Democratic voters like Mrs. Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, and consider them both presidential. At this point in the game, polls mostly measure familiarity.

With Mrs. Clinton, the question is: Will she or won’t she run? With Mr. Biden, the question is: Will he be too old? He thinks not. Mr. Biden will be 73 in 2016. Mrs. Clinton will be 68.

But doesn’t it make us all feel old to ponder, even briefly, another punishing presidential race so soon after the last one? Campaigns used to be too long. Now they are unending, existential, eternal. There is no end to them, no escape from them.

And what difference would it make if Mrs. Clinton became president while Washington was still in gridlock? A much more immediately relevant question than who gets the top job in 2016 is how to move any legislation through Congress now.

President Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, worked with Democratic Senate leader Lyndon Johnson to get things done in the 1950s. House Republican leader Jerry Ford worked with President Johnson to accomplish things in the 1960s. Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill worked together in the 1980s.

Now we have nothing but dysfunction and paralysis. Congress does not respect the presidency or itself. The country desperately needs a budget, gun legislation, and immigration reform legislation.

We don’t need new presidential candidates. We need a working Congress.