In this political environment if anyone thinks they can predict who the 2016 presidential candidates will be let alone the next president...Not So Fast!
At a similar moment in the run-up to 2008, I wrote a Sky News 'Washington Notebook' Blog entitled "Hillary v Rudy: The Main Event"....Enter Barack Obama and all bets were off!
Unless Joe Biden decides to run, 2016 will be another wide open presidential contest just like 2008. There will be no incumbent or VP seeking their party's nomination.
In most presidential election cycles the voters make an initial assessment - is the country headed in the right direction?
This question typically turns on how the economy is doing.
In 1992 the winning message was - "Its the economy stupid!"
If things are going well the American people are inclined to stay the course - lately however almost nothing seems to be going right.
Despite candidate Obama's many promises, President Obama has been faced with a
never-ending cavalcade of crises to attend to.
These unforeseen events have forced his agenda of hope and change to the back burner of reality.
When soon-to-be private citizen Barack Obama walks out of the Oval Office for the last time on January 20, 2017 it is likely that what has plagued and confounded this administration in Iraq,
Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, and the Middle East will not have been resolved; ISISL and al Qaeda will have continued their evil ways and "Rootin Tootin Putin" will still be challenging the West, gobbling up as much of his former Soviet Empire as he can get away with.
North Korea's "boy fanatic" Kim Jong-Un will continue to cause heartburn for anyone actually paying attention.
U.S. race relations - a far cry from being repaired could in fact get worse; the world economy will likely remain fragile and diseases like Ebola and HIV-AIDS tragically will still be with us as well as the phenomena of disappearing aircraft.
All of this along with Global Warming and the world energy crisis will be waiting for the next occupant of the White House as soon as the sound of the twenty-one gun salute begins to fade.
What a job!
Who would want it?
Well, there seems to be a growing number of possible candidates interested in vying for the top spot.
For the Democrats at the moment the possible contenders are Hillary Clinton (former New York Senator and Secretary of State), Joe Biden (Fmr Senator DE and VP), Martin O'Malley (Fmr Gov MD), Jim Webb (Fmr Senator VA), Brian Schweitzer, (Fmr Gov Montana), Joe Manchin (Fmr WVA Gov and Senator) and if Hillary decides not to go forward there is talk of Elizabeth Warren (Sen MA), Andrew Cuomo (Gov NY), Mark Warner (Sen VA) and the list continues to grow!
For the Republicans at the moment the possible contenders are Jeb Bush (Fmr Gov FL), Chris Christie (Gov NJ), Rand Paul (Sen KY), Marco Rubio (Sen FL), Ted Cruz (Sen TX), Paul Ryan (Rep WI) Ben Carson (surgeon), Rick Perry (Gov TX), Bobby Jindal (Gov LA), Scott Walker (Gov WI), and yes Mitt Romney (Fmr Gov MA and 2012 GOP Presidential Candidate) this list also keeps on growing!
Then there are the "others" - from both parties - who might consider throwing their hats into ring - Bernie Sanders (Sen VT), Carly Fiorina (Fmr head of HP), Rick Santorum (Fmr Sen PA), John Bolton (Fmr UN Amb), Michael Bloomberg (Fmr Mayor NYC), Jon Huntsman (Fmr Gov UT and Amb to China), George Clooney and the perennial favorites - Sarah Palin (Fmr Gov AK), Michele Bachmann (Rep MN), Donald Trump (businessman) and Rudy Giuliani (Fmr Mayor NYC).
What is probably the biggest challenge for both parties is that the long primary process gives the extreme elements of both parties far too much influence on the selection of their party's nominee.
To become a viable and well financed nominee a potential candidate must appear to support the most extreme views of their party.
As a result the candidate that can win their party's primary contest will have a tough time moving back to the middle which is usually what is required to win the general election.
This was one of Mitt Romney's biggest problems in 2012.
In selecting their president the American people tend to react to what they perceived were the weaknesses of their last choice.
Although the jury is still out on whether the Obama presidency has been a success, President Obama still has time to build and solidify his legacy.
There are certainly some things that the American people had hoped for that President Obama has not yet been able to achieve - and changing "the way that things are done in Washington" was at the top of their wish list.
Since the painful Democratic losses in the Midterms, President Obama now must deal with a Republican controlled Senate and House of Representatives for the remainder of his term.
So his legislative agenda is likely to be limited at best.
What qualities will the American people be looking for in their president this time?
One could argue that perhaps the most important quality our next president should have is the ability to work with the opposition to break the gridlock and get things done!
Some say this argues in favor of a "seasoned political hand" with lots of government experience.
This probably explains why two scions from America's most recently famous political dynasties seem to be the "front runners" at the moment in a race which has not yet officially begun - Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.
Both of these potential contenders know first hand the personal sacrifice this jobs requires and the hardships it will impose on their entire family.
If they choose to compete Hillary and Jeb really do know what they are getting into.
Hillary Clinton has yet to formally declared her candidacy although she already has a formidable apparatus in place and lots of monetary support ready to go the minute she confirms she is in the race.
Hillary has been First Lady, U.S. Senator from New York, a presidential candidate and Secretary of State - so she clearly has significant political and government experience.
She was also a partner in a law firm before she became First Lady of the State of Arkansas.
In short, Hillary is probably the most experienced woman to ever run for presidency.
Hillary has a tough decision ahead - if she does not run - she still remains the "Grand Dame" of the Democratic Party and a "king maker" supreme!
If she runs and loses she will have sought the presidency twice unsuccessfully and she could lose her superstar status.
If she wins she will be the first woman president and the only wife of a former president to be elected to that same office on her own.
And just think Chelsea Clinton would be able to say that both of her parents were Presidents of the United States!
Jeb Bush has been a successful governor of Florida and both the son and brother of a president.
If he runs he probably has a lock on Florida and Texas - which could give him a real advantage on election night.
Jeb is also one of the only GOP possible contenders who might be able to appeal to the Hispanic vote and change the numbers game to favor a Republican win.
Jeb has real credentials with the Hispanic community - his wife is a Mexican born American, he is fluent in Spanish and his views on immigration policy have been more moderate than many other GOP contenders.
On the downside, if Jeb runs he loses his right to a private life forever -something Hillary lost long ago.
Jeb will be exposing himself and his family to a level of scrutiny they have yet to experience.
If he wins he will be the third Bush to hold the office of President -gaining a special place for his family as a unique political dynasty in America.
Since this will make The Bushes the only family that will have produced three presidents - beating out the Adamses, Harrisons and Roosevelts.
There is another trying aspect to a Clinton - Bush redux.
These two presidential families have now become close and the dirty and painful presidential campaign process necessary to win may no longer be that appealing or even acceptable.
Chelsea Clinton and George P. Bush would also have to wage all out war to win the "youth vote" on behalf of their parents.
Of the other potential wannabes we have U.S. Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, several Governors, former Governors and Mayors, a variety of business leaders, a physician and an actor or two.
All of these individuals can bring some unique skills to the competition.
Americans often pick governors because they have executive experience - running their state, dealing with the opposition in their legislatures, commanding the National Guard in emergencies and balancing their budgets.
In fact, 17 of our presidents were governors - and 9 of the 17 were governors immediately before becoming president. 16 presidents also served as senators but only 3 held that position immediately before becoming president and 14 presidents previously served as vice-president immediately before attaining the highest office in the land.
So as I said at the beginning of this blog it is simply too soon to tell who will capture the attention and the imagination of the voters in 2016.
Perhaps it will be Hillary or Jeb or Marco or Elizabeth or Ted or Chris or maybe a true surprise like a Manchin-Huntsman or
This attractive and dynamic bi-partisan duo - two former governors who have worked together before to bridge the partisan divide with their "no labels" approach to problem solving - is something worth keeping your eyes on.
The only thing we can all count on, is that the battle to fill this particular "Position Available" job posting will be a hard-fought, entertaining and exciting ride...full of surprises!