It feels like the usual thing that happens is that candidates start visiting Iowa to little or no media notice the year before the election, and people really start caring in the November and December preceding the January Iowa Caucus. But NOW it's been full on election coverage since Tom Harkin's cookout in 2006? WTF?
So now we have a full seven months of blah blah blah from all the candidates for a full seven months before anything important actually happens. Then, because of the changes in the Primary schedule, the candidates for both parties will be decided by February. Then there will be followed by several months more of blah blah blah before the conventions, which will completely stage-managed, empty rituals. Then, finally, the campaign that actually matters will begin.
Perhaps it's just that Bush has been so thoroughly discredited that everyone's beating the dead horse so early on, but I don't think I'll be alone in switching channels whenever the talking heads start dissecting the race months before anyone will have a clear picture of what's going on.
And forget about any substantive discussion of the real problems our country faces. It's such a complete ritual display, the candidates might as well be swinging incense burners, ringing bells, and having people stand up and sit down.