Sunday, January 06, 2008

A few more post-Iowa reflections

Former Republican John Cole (who left in disgust and registered as an Independent) warns that Obama's mini-honeymoon with some Republicans will probably not last:
Greenwald with an astute observation that needs to be remembered:
There’s a prevailing sense that Obama is not as offensive to the right-wing GOP faction as other Democratic and liberal candidates in the past have been, or that he’s less “divisive” among them than Hillary. And that’s true: for now, while he tries to take down the individual who has long provoked the most intense hatred—literally—among the Right. But anyone who doesn’t think that that’s all going to change instantaneously if Obama is the nominee hasn’t been watching how this faction operates over the last 20 years. Hatred is their fuel. Just look at the bottomless personal animus they managed to generate over an anemic, mundane, inoffensive figure like John Kerry. At their Convention, they waved signs with band-aids mocking his purple hearts while cheering on two combat-avoiders.
If Obama wins the nomination for the Democrats, all of that will change, and it will change overnight. We will be regaled with long tales of madrassas, Obama’s first name will become Hussein, and everyone’s pets will be running around frothing from all the dog whistles. Obama is getting a free ride at the moment because of the intense, nutty, and 15 year old hate for the Clagina (in all honesty, I was a hater up until a few years ago when I realized cold and calculating competence is better than willful dishonesty and feckless incompetence). But if and when the queen is vanquished, all that venom will need a target, and that target will be Obama. [....]
=> Meanwhile, on the subject of Clinton Derangement Syndrome, a few candid observations from Kevin Drum in his Washington Monthly blog. On the night of the Iowa caucuses he conceded that, although he had "been sort of fitfully supporting Hillary Clinton for the past few months, [....] emotionally I'm as susceptible to the famous Obama charm as anyone. And the idea of a young, charismatic, black guy as our next president is pretty damn inspiring." But the next day he felt compelled to add:
[....] As long as we're laying our cards on the table, this [i.e., CDS] is one of the things that keeps me on Hillary's side regardless of anything to do with issues or tactics or rhetoric or anything else. I just hate the idea that the fever swamp has been able to turn a perfectly decent liberal woman into such an object of malign loathing. If she loses, then she loses. But by God, I don't want her to lose because millions of [right-wing Clinton-haters] have carried on a 15-year vendetta of sick-minded smears and hatred. Enough's enough.
I can sympathize.

Today Kevin is feeling even more exasperated (and not just with Republicans):
THE PACK .... Ezra Klein watches pack journalism at work, 2008 style, and it's not pretty. Nickel version: If some other reporter says Hillary Clinton melted down because she displayed a flash of emotion in last night's debate, then she melted down. After all, who are you going to believe, the spin room or your own lyin' eyes?

In related news, apparently the flinty-eyed independents of New Hampshire aren't quite as flinty-eyed as they'd like you to believe. After a solid year of town halls, coffee klatsches, and early morning doorbell ringing — because, you know, New Hampshirites take their electoral responsibilities so much more seriously than the rest of us — all it took was a few thousand Iowans to flip them from one side to the other in less than 24 hours. Feh.

Am I feeling bitter? You bet. Not because Hillary Clinton seems more likely than not to lose — I can live with that pretty easily — but because of how she's likely to lose. Because the press doesn't like her. Because any time a woman raises her voice half a decibel she instantly becomes shrill. Because we insist on an idiotic nominating system that gives a bunch of Iowa corn farmers 20x the influence of any Democratic voter in any urban area in the country. Because the fever swamp, in the end, is getting the last laugh.

On the other hand, it's not like anyone held a gun to her head and forced Hillary to hire Mark Penn. So overall, let's rule it an assisted suicide. And here's the good news: when the better candidates got taken out in 2004, we ended up with John Kerry, a decent man but a lousy candidate. This year, if Hillary does indeed go on to lose, we'll end up Barack Obama, a decent man and a terrific candidate. So at least we're making progress.
Well, so it goes ... maybe. Actually, it's not over yet.--Jeff Weintraub

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