Friday, January 04, 2008

Post-Caucus

Well, the finish went down as I'd hoped which is good, I suppose, but I still think the process sucks. The media is going to have a fucking field day with Hillary's third place finish, and will anoint Obama "the man to beat." Even though Edwards came in second, he'll get lost in the shuffle and be treated as an afterthought. Because this whole Iowa system is so fucking arcane and unpredictable, the top three could have come in any order and I wouldn't have been surprised, and anybody who tells you different is a liar.

Twice as many Democrats caucused as in 2004. That's great. If the party and voters are that motivated it is good news for the general election no matter who the nominee is. As for tonight specifically, Obama should get credit for actually delivering the new voters and the young voters—every cycle people speculate about the mythical "youth vote", and somebody is always relying on them (last time it was Dean) and they always fail to show up in the end. Not this time. If Obama (or whoever is the nominee) can keep turning those voters out, it's good news for this fall, and better news for the future of the Democratic Party.

Before you stop to remind me how pissed off I am at the Democratic Party, I'm not all "everything's fine, honey..." I am cautiously optimistic, because whether it's Edwards or Obama—combined with an injection of new supporters—it means new(er) blood and pushes the old guard further out of control. Bring that shit on, and I am back in. Hillary becoming the nominee is my worst nightmare—I think she'd be a fine President, but she would be renewing the lease on the old party I want blown up.

Dodd and Biden have now bailed out of the race. It's too bad about Dodd, as in many ways he was truly the best, ballsiest candidate running. But, if he can go back to the Senate and push Harry Reid aside and kick some ass Constitution-style, that will be fantastic. Biden was always running for Veep or SoS as far as I was concerned... whatever. I think he'd make for an entertaining VP debate though....

I don't even know what to think about the GOP side. Huckabee ran away with Iowa, and that should scare the shit out of rational people, but it might be the best strategic result for the Democrats. Huckabee stands the best chance of splitting the Party and dooming them. McCain is the guy who still scares me in the general election.

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MORE:

Kos has the total numbers and the GOP got its ass kicked...
Total Voter Turnout (approximate): 356,000

Percentage of total vote
24.5% Obama
20.5% Edwards
19.8% Clinton
11.4% Huckabee (R)

Ouch.

• Media Matters is really swinging blindly with this stupid crap. I, frankly, don't see a problem with what Matthews said either time, and don't consider it hypocritical. And if they can't see the difference between Matthew's post-caucus excitement and Bob Kerrey's pre-caucus slime-job, the should shutter their site.

• I found this analysis of Obama's strategy to be excellent. First, Matt Yglesias:
John Judis and Ruy Teixeira take a look at the demographic and ideological characteristics of self-described independents and their potential role in the presidential election. It's clear that the post-partisan rhetoric from Barack Obama that's annoyed a lot of bloggers has tremendous appeal to this segment of the electorate. And though I, too, find it annoying I think you have to agree that if he really does manage to use this kind of rhetoric to mobilize an unprecedented number of independents to go caucus for the first time on behalf of a candidate who was right about Iraq from the beginning, backs ambitious new programs on climate change and media reform, big new regulations on health insurance companies and new subsidies to people who have trouble paying for insurance, etc., etc., etc. that that'll be a pretty impressive achievement.

It's always worth recalling that George W. Bush talked the talk about repudiating the harshness of Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay. [...] But the policy agenda from Bush was always very right-wing, just as Obama's platform is quite progressive.

And Steve Benen (Carpetbagger) expands:
This touches on what I think is one of the Obama campaign’s more compelling selling points — he’s giving Dems the policy proposals they want (universal healthcare plan, excellent energy policy, ending the war in Iraq, cancellation of Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy, net neutrality, etc.) and giving independents the tone they want (”agree without being disagreeable,” “bring people together,” “working with those we don’t agree with”).

For all the palpable frustration and exasperation, Obama may very well be in the process of pulling off a pretty neat trick: selling a very liberal agenda to a large group of people who aren’t even close to liberal.

Exactly. Of course I could be the one getting duped, but I don't think so. I think Obama really is a progressive liberal, and will govern that way, he is just not campaigning that way. Steve continues...
Allow me to over simplify things to an almost comical degree. Obama, or any Democrat for that matter, has a choice as to how best to pitch progressive ideas as a presidential candidate:

Choice A: Republicans have proven themselves to be reckless, incompetent, and incapable of governing. They seek to divide, bankrupt, and undercut America, while trashing our institutions and ignoring the rule of law. The way to get the nation back on track is to elect a Democratic president with a progressive policy agenda. If Republicans balk, we’ll ram it down their throats, to the benefit of people nationwide.

Choice B: Partisan politics has gotten out of hand, and there’s simply no need to keep having the same ideological fights over and over again. It’s time for a Democratic style of politics that brings in independents and reasonable Republicans who are willing to work with us to make a difference on the issues that really matter, such as universal healthcare, ending the war in Iraq, combating global warming, fiscal sanity, making college more affordable….

The funny thing is, Dems who embrace Choice A and Dems who embrace Choice B can agree with one another, wholeheartedly, on matters of substance. On policy, they want the exact same things, and have practically the same ideas as to how to address the issues. The difference, of course, is style and tone. Choice A is perceived as “partisan” — it rallies Dems, and drives independents away. Choice B is perceived as “bipartisan” — it annoys Dems, and brings independents in (not to mention the media establishment, which eats this stuff up).

In the current race for the Democratic nomination, Obama seems to be taking a risk — use bipartisan rhetoric to achieve partisan ends. His agenda isn’t moderate; his tone is moderate.

I think that's an excellent breakdown. I think Edwards might be throwing more red meat to the base, and Obama is frustrating those same people, but at the end of the day, Obama winning with 60% of the vote will stand a much better chance of carrying Congress with him and getting shit done than the now sure-to-be-branded-as the angry "Dean" candidate Edwards, or the hyper-polarizing, and now probably bitter Hillary will, with only 50.1%.

I mean, hell, my name is Mr. Furious, of course I'd be excited about a candidate that wanted to rub the GOPs nose in its own shit, but that satisfaction is short-lived. If Obama can get me the policies I want but get there with a broad mandate and the support of the long-promised "middle" I can live without the gloating, revenge and vindication that would come from an insurgent. And if he can do it by defeating the Democratic Party Establishment along the way, so much the better.

• Obama's victory speech:



UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan

The contrast between the two speeches - Clinton's and Obama's - was instructive. She was fine - but seemed to purloin the entire Obama message. The idea of the Clintons as a unifying force for change is not exactly persuasive.

As for Obama? Maybe you saw it. Simply put: he sounded like a president. The theme was not just change; it was a new unity. And as a black man, he helps heal the past as well as forge the future. This really was history tonight. To win so many white voices, and bring together so many minorities, and use the unifying language that leaves the toxins of race and partisanship behind: This was the moment America stopped being afraid.

This was the America we have missed and have found again.

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Tonight was in many ways devastating news for the GOP. Twice as many people turned out for the Democrats than the Republicans. Clearly independents prefer the Dems.

Now look at how the caucus-goers defined themselves in the entrance polls. Among the Dems: Very Liberal: 18 percent; Somewhat Liberal: 36 percent; Moderate: 40 percent; Conservative: 6 percent. Now check out the Republicans: Very Conservative: 45 percent; Somewhat Conservative: 43 percent; Moderate: 11 percent; Liberal: 1 percent.

One is a national party; the other is on its way to being an ideological church. The damage Bush and Rove have done - revealed in 2006 - is now inescapable.

10 comments:

Toast said...

You know what it is that bugs me about this? Well, many, many things, and I'm trying to write it all down, but here's the summary: It's not about revenge (although that would be sweet) and it's not about gloating (although we would certainly deserve to), it's about justice. I want a verdict on who has been right about everything (us) and who has been wrong about everything (them). An Obama victory, at least one predicated on his current rhetoric, would be like settling out of court.

Smitty said...

I have been back-and-forth over and over again with who I want to support. For a while, I was really excited about Edwards, especially after I saw him at the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner in Detroit last summer. He said a lot of the things, policy-wise, that I wanted to hear and seemed to have the actual policy positions in place to do them; more than ideas, there seemed to be some substance. It helped, too, that my wife works for a Macomb County Dem, and the entire Macomb County Democratic "Machine" was in Iowa for Edwards (Dave Bonior is his campaign manager, and thus all of the Bonior loyalists are out in force)...well, except for my very pregnant wife.

But Obama just...does something for me. I don't want to make my decision based on that. At the very least, what he "does" for me right now is make Hillary spend all her damn money.

So my flip-flopping between Obama and Edwards goes on...

Mr Furious said...

I want a verdict on who has been right about everything (us) and who has been wrong about everything (them). An Obama victory, at least one predicated on his current rhetoric, would be like settling out of court.

I know what you're saying. And a large part of me agrees with you. But I don't think that verdict is coming no matter what. Not from Edwards. And certainly not from Hillary.

So don't penalize Obama for it.

Rickey Henderson said...

I'm a Kusinich supporter myself (he's the only genuine anti-war voice in the crowd) but listening to that Obama speech last night was one of those rare fist-pumping moments in modern politics. He accomplished something pretty freaking incredible last night.

Scot E said...

I'm just glad W can't win, um -er RIG an election a third time. Anyone, but a Bush.

Toast said...

I don't think that verdict is coming no matter what. Not from Edwards. And certainly not from Hillary.

So don't penalize Obama for it.


Fair enough. But Edwards and Hillary aren't spreading the "we're all to blame" meme either. We are not all to blame.

Mr Furious said...

Edwards and Hillary aren't spreading the "we're all to blame" meme either. We are not all to blame.

Yu got an example? Seriously. I'm not trying to be a smart-ass here, but I keep hearing about Obama spreading right-wing memes, and the people ont the far left who are all bent out of shape with Obama, and I am just not seeing it.

I can see why reconciliation might not be the course you want, but where has he gone Republican on anyone?

I'm really asking.

Rickey Henderson said...

Just to chime in once more... Forget a verdict--you're never going to get one. You'll get lots of talk about hope and change, but don't expect a referendum on the state of the country.

While last night's turnout was pretty terrific as far as GOP vs Dem numbers go, the turnout numbers overall were still piss poor.

Less than 10% of Iowa's population voted last night. Thats fucking disgraceful. And I'd be shocked if the New Hampshire numbers are much different.

Just sayin'...

Also, not to be overly pessimistic or anything, but this Huckabee evangelical thing is cause for serious concern. That bullshit has legs.

Smitty said...

Also, not to be overly pessimistic or anything, but this Huckabee evangelical thing is cause for serious concern. That bullshit has legs.

The Republicans on the State-level don't like him. He is, in thei estimation, what is wrong with the Republican party.

Even then, be afraid. As Rickey says, this bullshit has legs.

Rickey Henderson said...

Good point Smitty. And no way in hell does the Huckster win in NH or many other other local contests. Nationally is where this evangelical shit succeeds. How much does a Huckabee/Guiliani ticket or a Romney/Guiliani ticket scare you folks? A whole fucking lot, right?