Send in the clowns!

Since the 2016 presidential election is a full 17 months away, and the Democrats have exactly one viable candidate–Hillaryhillaryhillaryhillary–they seem to be aware that the electorate may already be getting a tad bored. Time for a distraction: the Republican Clown Car.

The idea is that there are so many candidates vying for the GOP nomination that it's just plain side-splittingly hilarious!

The clown-car idea has been on the road for months, but it seems to have been jump-started in a May 18 column by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post:

There are far too many candidates (so many that there are concerns they won’t all fit on a debate stage), and to gain attention they are juggling, tooting horns and blowing slide whistles like so many painted performers emerging from a clown car.

It went from zero to 60 in less than a week. Try googling "clown car republican" and you'll see what I mean–with links to Politico, the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, Alternet, and the Daily Kos. There's even a Facebook page, Conservative Clown Car, showing caricatures of some 16 GOP candidates and the epigram "So many clowns, so little time."

Are we laughing yet?

The latest manifestation of MSN mockery of the GOP's crowded field is the June 1 cover of the New Yorker. Titled "Suiting Up," the illustration, by Mark Ulriksen, depicts seven male Republicans donning their stodgy Republican business suits in a plush locker room, while a dismayed Hillary Clinton–she's a woman, get it?–peers helplessly through the windowpane of a door at the end of the room. Ulriksen neglected–natch–to paint in any reminder that there actually is a Republican woman seeking the 2016 presidential nomination. Her name, in case you forgot, is Carly Fiorina. But sticking Fiorina into the illustration would have undermined that "GOP war on women" theme that's so important to Democrats.

I'm sure that liberals are still rolling in the aisles over the clown car–but 17 months is a long time, and that vehicle is going to run out of gas eventually. And then there's not going to be a lot to distract the audience from Hillaryhillaryhillaryhillary–and more Hillary.

Actually, the crowded GOP field for 2016–in contrast to the dull mono-candidate Democratic field–is an entertaining relief. It's a throwback to the way presidential elections used to be, before the "reforms" in presidential nomination procedures of the 1970s. Back then, there was only a handful of state primaries, so, unless a president happened to be running for reelection, it was the rule for large numbers of candidates to jostle for selection up until the eve of the nominating convention. States typically threw their governors into the ring as "favorite sons" who would subseqently throw their votes to more viable candidates after rounds of horse-trading in smoke-filled rooms. Presidential conventions were thus exciting and fun. Today's big, rowdy GOP field promises to bring back some of that fun to election politics.

And fun is one of the things we're not going to get with Hillaryhillaryhillaryhillary.