marathon

So Linc Chafee is in the race. This brings the number of contenders up to four. You have an embittered, kleptocratic and entitled Social Security recipient; you have a sex-obsessed, corrupt septuagenarian Socialist; you have a big city machine Progressive; and you have the Wonder-Bread-and-Velveeta pragmatist.

Of this crew, the only one that is a real contender is Martin O’Malley. But the real reason this bunch of northeastern Progressive white guys are in the race is to give the illusion that Hillary is not cruising to a coronation. There is undoubtedly some hope, too, that inevitable debates with one or more of this rogue’s gallery of status quo acting as the equivalent of her sparring partner, will sharpen Hillary’s debating skill and exercise her obviously atrophied intellect (no spitefulness and viciousness are not the same as intelligence) and — hopefully — not rough her up too bad or permanently damage her.

There is a danger to this faux combat.In professional track and field and road racing there is a man known as a “rabbit,” or pacemaker. His job is to set a world record pace for a certain distance, in effect keeping the big name runners on pace for an exceptional, and crowd pleasing, performance. Then he drops out. He’s never expected to finish the race. But, just as the aging Butch Coolidge, couldn’t dial back his competitive juices, the same thing happens in real life. Take, for instance, the 1994 Los Angeles Marathon:

Paul Pilkington was a professional rabbit when he entered the L.A. Marathon. His role was twofold: set up the race for the registered stars and set a blistering pace that would con the less-experienced into using up all their energy–and oxygen–trying to keep up. He got paid to do that.

Pilkington was practically the Easter Bunny of the craft. He had rabbitted at the New York City Marathon, as well as those in Cleveland and Tokyo.

Traditionally, the rabbit is supposed to run an unrealistic pace until he has pulled the race along behind him and set it up for the serious runners. Then, he is meant to step off the track.

This is what Pilkington had been hired to do. But, along about the step-off time, the 16th mile or so, he found himself so alone in the race, he decided to keep running, at least until they caught up to him.

They never did. They were properly indignant when they did show up at the finish line to find that Pilkington had been there almost a minute before (in 2 hours 12 minutes 13 seconds).

Hillary is damaged goods. She starts the election with nearly 60% of the public thinking she’s a liar and only about 45% having a positive view of her. Despite the polls that show her leading various GOP contenders, it is logically rather hard to see how someone who starts with high name recognition and high negatives along with a craptacular personality and unbounded sense of entitlement gets the votes needed to win. The real danger to Hillary is that if she debates either Sanders or O’Malley, both of which would be much more exciting to the Democrat base, she could very well lose. If she gets her cankles knocked out from under her by a sparring partner she will enter a death spiral. If you think O’Malley doesn’t know this you are fooling yourself.