"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you”

Pericles



Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Word of the Day: "Chaos"

The Morning After Michigan provides glee for Democrats as we watch the GOP nomination battle sink further into disarray. The national consensus is the race is in chaos.

But Democrats need to be cautious. It would be a strategic blunder to develop a sense of overconfidence this early in the campaign. The year is barely more than two weeks old and we've seen conventional wisdom twisted and turned on its head multiple times already.

One thing we can all be certain of at this point: There is certainly a long way to go. We haven't seen the last time the punditocracy is left cleaning the egg off their collective faces.

One might try to make the case that the Democratic race is as murky and unpredictable as the Republican contest. While the ultimate winner remains a question mark, I don't think "chaos" is an apt description on the Democratic side. There is a lot of a agreement on policy among the candidates. The vitriol we're experiencing right now regarding race and campaign tactics is actually calm (for a Democratic contest) and is a normal and expected part of a tight nominating contest.

The Republicans, on the other hand, are in disagreement over core issues and approaches - and each candidate is playing to win over their own faction and segment within their disintegrating coalition. This is why you see their candidates cherry-picking the contests where they will compete.

They are also caught in an unenviable vice: How to run a primary campaign advocating change (and against the sitting President) without alienating that president's supporters in the easily agitated GOP electorate? It will become even more difficult in the general election when the Democratic Party unites and turns all of its attention to the Republican nominee, who will either have to refute Dubya's policies (and risk the base staying home) or stick by their guy (and watch indies flock to the Democrats in droves).

Questions for both parties remain as Tsunami Tuesday approaches.

Can the Dems still be torn asunder? Yes (especially if race remains a topic in the upcoming contests)

Can the Republicans pull it together? Probably (but the continued pandering to factions who are fundamentally opposed to one another will make it less and less likely)

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