Thursday, January 03, 2008

Caucus Raucous

Hah, not quite Armen! What I did say was that, in early Fall, the CW was crystallizing dangerously against Obama -- and it was. But then things changed with that Nevada debate where Hillary stumbled on the Iran resolution, her Presidential records, and Social Security, and suddenly the dynamic of the race shifted-- the press got more combative, Obama found his voice, and Hillary started to sound a little -- forgive the gendered term -- hysterical. Then, about three weeks ago I noted the very dangerous trend where the sooner the state voted, the more they didn't like Hillary, and that culminated tonight in a solid 9-point Obama victory.

I think Hillary is in deep trouble. The most amazing part of tonight isn't the results, but the polls: Obama convincingly won almost every demographic that matters: young voters, independent voters, voters who decided in the last week, voters whose first choice wasn't viable, voters who favor change over experience, new voters, women, and so forth. Those numbers explode so many of Hillary's purported strengths: electability, inevitability, the gender issue. What does she fall back on now?

You could see her confusion tonight with her deer-in-the-headlights speech -- her desperate attempt to claim the 'change' mantra that Obama owns. Before tonight, her slogan was, "Experience!" Now it's the Potomac two-step, "I have the bring about change." But an 8-word campaign theme is 7 words too many.

Amazingly, the best message for Hillary would be the same one that might have won the election for Al Gore in 2000: "I'll do what Bill did!" But she's afraid to go there -- wants to be her own woman and all that psycho-babble. But without making at least the implicit promise that we'll get the Bill Clinton economy and the Bill Clinton foreign policy without the Bill Clinton upholstery strains, there's not much to her candidacy. I like Hillary -- I still like Hillary -- but I don't see how she recovers.

Obama, meanwhile, takes the Big Mo to a New Hampshire electorate that is famously independent, moderate, and discerning -- perfect for him. And his speech tonight -- which I'd bet a hundy he wrote himself (just trust me on this) -- was nothing short of spectacular. He finally found the magic from the 2004 convention , and I can't think of another politician in America who can talk with a straight face about "hope" and "optimism" and "reform" and not sound like a car salesman. Here's predicting he wins New Hampshire by at least 7.

Meanwhile, should we say Kaddish for John Edwards? I love the fact that he talks about poverty, class issues, economics, bread-and-butter and the dinner-table too. Lord knows this country needs it. But he was too strident too win -- and too strident to govern. (The trendy leftys who bash Obama for his post-partisanship and long to sic Edwards on the GOP -- I'm talking about you here Paul Krugman -- should familiarize themselves with this bit of Senate procedure before pretending a President Edwards can tell the GOP they're evil and then expect them to vote for a single-payer health care system). Edwards may have finished second, but he's out of money and trailing in New Hampshire badly -- and I don't think the second-place finish was decisive enough to give him any momentum. If a state he's spent the last 18 months in -- a state rocked by economic turmoil and downsizing -- doesn't give him more than 3 votes in 10, what other state will? South Carolina?

If Edwards is truly finished though, let's pause to appreciate this moment in American history: The African American and the female candidate will fight on for the Presidency, but the first person to head for the exits is the...wealthy, white, WASP, good-looking, heterosexual Southern male. Amazing. Only took 235 years or so.

Anyway, it should be a fun five days and a fun five weeks here. Someone I was with tonight saw the results and said, "Oh no, now we're not going to get to see any campaign ads!" (Never mind that most Californians would find that a blessing -- not me or my friends!) But I think we'll see plenty starting in about three weeks -- and I think our vote on 2/5 will still matter -- and that's something to be excited about in the New Year.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, uh, has anyone gotten grades yet?

1/04/2008 8:47 AM  
Blogger Disco Stu said...

Re: your $100 bet that Obama wrote that speech himself. Don't go giving away all your hundy's before V IV. I'll expect you to pay in all $1s.

1/04/2008 9:48 AM  
Anonymous alice said...

Yeah EW - I would love a post on the Republicans. There was a great piece in the NYTimes yesterday on Huckabee - how now the Republicans are having to eat it after tricking "Wal-Mart Republicans" into voting for them all these years. I don't know anything about how money in politics works, but my guess is that there is quite a bit of it pouring into the McCain campaign right now as the elites are pissing themselves over Huckabee.

1/04/2008 12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty interesting development: Jose Padilla filed a civil suit against John Yoo. The complaint is here:

1/04/2008 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While we're posting links:

1/04/2008 4:27 PM  

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