Lincoln Chafee, bum of the week

During the first half of 1941, Joe Louis, the heavyweight champion of the world, took on a series of challengers at the rate of one per month. Sportswriters dubbed the challengers “the bum of the month club.”

In the past month or so, Hillary Clinton is picking up weak challengers for the Democratic presidential nomination at the rate of about one per week. First came Bernie Sanders, a 73 year-old socialist. Then, came Martin O’Malley, the former mayor of crumbling Baltimore. Jim Webb is also on the campaign trail and qualifies as a “bum” for purposes of presidential politics.

Today, Lincoln Chafee, the least plausible candidate of all, entered the race. Chafee is a 62 year-old ex-Republican, who cast a write-in vote for George H.W. Bush in 2014. He should capture the George H.W. Bush wing of the Democratic party.

Chafee isn’t exactly Mr. Excitement. He announced that, if elected, he will try to put the U.S. on the metric system. Stirring.

Ironically, Chafee’s entry coincides with a new Fox News poll showing that nearly 69 percent of Democrats think someone besides Clinton could still win the nomination. Only 28 percent think the race is effectively over.

In my view, this poll result shouldn’t be viewed as prognostication, and certainly not as an assessment of the chances of the bums of the week. Instead, I suspect that it represents the wishes of Democratic voters. They aren’t sold on Hillary and don’t want the race to be effectively over.

If so, the poll tells us that if non-bums enter, Hillary will probably struggle. By non-bums, I mean not just Elizabeth Warren, but also Joe Biden, Al Gore, and perhaps a few others.

Barring such entry, I doubt there will be much of race on the Democratic side. But Hillary may not score the super-quick knockout she’s hoping for.

Remember, four of the six members of Joe Louis’ bum of the month club made it through at least five rounds with the champ.


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