Caucus notes

A few thoughts about the Iowa caucus results and aftermath:

Don’t read too much into Obama’s win. Obama is a relative newcomer to national politics who got his start as an old style ward heeler in Chicago. That kind of experience is the best preparation for the “how are you going to scratch our backs” reality of a caucus system. Obama learned in Illinois how to trade political favors for a political future. I almost called this “Hyde Park writ large”, but then I paused – Iowa was probably a walk in the park by comparison to hustling for favors in Daley territory. Of course, having Oprah Winfrey help him get more female votes than Hillary Clinton didn’t hurt and that may translate into primary states where machine politics won’t.

It’s really too bad that Joe Biden decided to drop out so soon. I disagree with him more often than not, but he has the experience to at least be asking the right questions on foreign policy and make the other candidates in both parties think a bit more. Hopefully he’ll settle into the role of “senior statesman” for the remainder of the campaign and still have some input.

I think it’s now safe to name Ron Paul, at least to note that he did something that only Huckabee and Romney also did in the Republican caucuses – he carried a county. That’s minor news that won’t get repeated a lot, especially since he finished fifth. Of course, that fifth place also included getting more than twice the votes statewide of national frontrunner Giuliani. (For the disclosure hawks: I gave money to both Paul and Giuliani.)

Huckabee’s victory speech was just weird. First, it seemed like a ripoff of Howard Dean’s “I Have a Scream” speech…”we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico…” and then on to “Pennsylvania Avenue.” The really weird thing is that Huckabee’s utter lack of enthusiasm makes Dean look sane by comparison. Come on, you just won the first contest toward becoming leader of the free world – act happy. You don’t have to screech, but a little hollah wouldn’t hurt. Maybe instead of Pennsylvania Avenue, he should just head for Cancun for spring break.

Then there was Hillary. She was gracious, optimistic, enthusiastic. She was a little bit likeable. She seemed somewhat…Presidential. This is literally the first time I’ve heard a Hillary Clinton speech that didn’t leave me cringing for one reason or another. Of course, it had nothing to do with policy, but it reminded me of the tone of the Great Communicator. Her reaction to the Iowa loss may well be the thing that puts Hillary in the White House – if she can bottle it and use it later.

John McCain took advantage of losing to spout more of his campaign finance reform hypocrisy.

I think that the lesson of this election in Iowa is that, one, you can’t buy an election in Iowa; and, two, that negative campaigns don’t work. They don’t work there, and they don’t work here in New Hampshire. They’re not going to work.

Doesn’t Fred Thompson have a speechwriter? Failing that, how about a screenwriter? We know he can deliver a script, but everytime I’ve heard him recently I’ve been left scratching my head wondering what the hell he was talking about. He’s wordy and incoherent. He was asked on the Sean Hannity show about the rumor that he was going to drop out and back McCain. He said that he knew what campaign had put out the rumor then three sentences later said that he had “no idea where [the rumor] came from.” Huh? Did he vote for knowing where it came from before he voted against knowing where it came from?

[tags]Iowa caucuses,Hillary,Clinton,Obama,Huckabee,McCain,Romney,Ron Paul[/tags]

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