Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

On Tuesday, President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address to a Congress ruled by Republicans. The president has two years left in his second term, but political Washington is so focused on the 2016 presidential race that even the president’s speech is evaluated for its effect on the race.

Presidential campaigns start earlier and earlier, but seem to get emptier and emptier. Already the media is hyping the coming horse race, laying odds on who is in and who isn’t, positioning one candidate against another, treating reform ideas like fashions on a Hollywood red carpet, judged only in relation to the competition. Already the money primary has started, with political contenders dutifully lining up like beauty contestants at big money donor gatherings.

On the Republican side, contenders seem to be tripping over one another, with a baker’s dozen or more considering the race. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has already built a campaign in waiting, even before announcing her exploratory committee. Activists hoping to avoid a Clinton coronation have launched a “draft Warren” movement, to push Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren into the race. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former senator Jim Webb are also considering a run.

Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.