(Dr. Politics should mention that, under a pseudonym, “Walter Shapiro,” I wrote a book on the early skirmishing for the 2004 Democratic nomination called One-Car Caravan. My logic for such early-bird journalism was that the candidates would be the same people two years before the election that they would be in the fall of 2004. The difference was that by getting out there in 2002, I could spend an entire day with John Kerry or Howard Dean without another reporter in sight. Of course, this arduous advance work did not prevent me from fatally misjudging John Edwards but that was another type of problem).

So, sadly, Politicked Out in Plattsburgh, to say that there is an off-season in presidential politics any more is like saying the Christmas selling season still kicks off when Santa is sighted at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

The relevant standard for all 2016 articles is whether they tell you something fresh about the character, background, or policy views of possible presidential contenders. If it is just horse-race journalism, then you can freely ignore it until the leaves take on their 2015 autumnal hues in Iowa and New Hampshire. But if the story is an insightful profile about a 2016 White House dreamer, then Dr. Politics says with no embarrassment, “Bring it on.”

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Walter Shapiro just chronicled his ninth presidential campaign. He writes the “Character Sketch” political column for Yahoo News. Follow him on Twitter @WalterShapiroPD.