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


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Rudy's (and America's) Shame

We need to let Rudy know building a presidential campaign on the backs of American heroes while ignoring their long-term medical needs is immoral. Rudy, despite your claims, you are not "one of them."

Let Rudy know he should meet with the 9-11 First Responders by signing the petition here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

NH Dems Tell MSM: "Slow Down, Important Election Underway"

The punditocracy is stunned for the second time in a week. The Democratic nomination battle has everyone scratching their heads, hungover from a weekend-long binge of polls and political rallies in the snow. The frenetic pace (and the 24-7 news cycle's voracious appetite) have left the candidates, the media and the general population (at least those of us who pay attention to politics and not Britney) exhausted and disoriented.

Thank you, New Hampshire, from a long-time member of the ABC (Anybody But Clinton) Camp. In this compressed election cycle, I think the NH Democrats did the rest of us a huge favor yesterday.

Why? Because the voters have shown they are now in control of the campaign's narrative.

The Democratic nomination's 2008 narrative had been viewed throughout the 2007 calendar year as Hillary Rodham Clinton's "coronation march." The endless endorsements and insurmountable leads in national opinion polls combined with a professionally run textbook campaign led the MSM to believe in Sen. Clinton's aura of inevitability.

The only hint that something may have been amiss in the House of the Democratic Establishment was Sen. Barack Obama's quirky ability to raise oodles of money. Everyone anticipated Sen. Clinton would be able to raise unprecedented funds for her presidential campaign. Few predicted anyone - nevermind a freshman Senator from Chicago, Hillary's hometown - would be able to keep pace and build a fundraising list larger than the well-connected Clinton machine.

While Obama's fundraising prowess was impressive, the MSM also found it easy to dismiss as another insurgency a la Howard Dean. Democratic nomination fights often have insurgent campaigns that catch the electorate's imagination early but flame out when the real voting takes place.

When Iowa's caucus voters showed up in record numbers last Thursday night and delivered a resounding repudiation of the Clinton machine, the media and the general population (not to mention TeamHillary) woke up to the realization that this Democratic nomination would be no cakewalk for the former first lady. As John Houseman would say in the old Smith Barney ads, "She's going to have to earn it."

The media - provided a new and exciting storyline for the Democratic race - caught a severe case of "Obamamania" over the weekend. Every poll seemed to indicate an ObamaWave was sweeping across from the plains to swamp the Clinton Granite State firewall. The talking heads told us there was little Clinton could do to reverse the momentum. We saw Hillary tear up (and the media tear her down). We saw Bill Clinton's angry and bitter side (one we often heard rumors about but rarely saw during his presidency).

On election day, media predictions during the afternoon heralded the end of Two Dynasties - the Bushes and Clintons. It was a grandly historic day - at least the media kept telling us. More than 4 out of ten Republican NH primary voters were either dissatisfied or angry with Bush and Obama was going to win going away, if the latest polls were to be believed.

It turns out the polls predicting a 10-12 point Obama victory were dead wrong. Many theories are being bandied about. Was it the tears? Did women rally to Hillary's side when the media (and her opponents) displayed a blatantly sexist double-standard? Was it the fact Hillary decided to change tactics and actually answer audience questions over the weekend? (without which the tears would never have flowed) Or was it the playing out of the "Bradley effect?" Did a latent Yankee racism creep into the privacy of the polling booths? Or was it the triumph of the experience over rhetoric argument?

I argue it was a combination of all of the above. But, I also believe another factor was in play: This race to a nominee was hurtling far too fast for the staid Granite Staters. In their stoic wisdom they understood that the media frenzy and the willingness of the punditocracy to transfer the crown of inevitability from one head to another was occuring far too fast.

Iowa Democrats validated Obama's viability as a national candidate. New Hampshire Democrats, in backing Clinton, were not rejecting Obama's message as much as they were saying: Slow down. We're moving much too fast. We need to make sure the Democratic standard-bearer is our strongest candidate in November. As a result, more Democrats get to weigh in and determine our nominee.

Thank you, New Hampshire and Iowa.