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Weekend reflections (Iowa edition)

January 5th, 2008

It’s time again for weekend reflections. With the 2008 US Presidential campaign now officially underway, I’d be interested in hopes, fears and predictions after Iowa. My massively premature call on the result: a relatively narrow win for an Obama-Clinton ticket over McCain-Lieberman for the Republicans. Feel free to fill in, and dispute, the underlying analysis.

  1. mugwump
    January 5th, 2008 at 05:02 | #1

    You think Clinton will accept the veep role under Obama? It would be a great ticket but I doubt she’ll do it. I’d be fine with either of those tickets getting up, although I’d lean towards McCain-Lieberman since they’d really make some changes in Washington (Obama is too quick to compromise and Clinton is too much of an insider).

    I really don’t think McCain has much of a chance. My concern is that the “values” vote in Iowa translates across enough of the country for Huckabee to get up, and we end up with yet another clueless President when it comes to foreign policy.

  2. Wednesday Keller
    January 5th, 2008 at 06:06 | #2

    Yeah neither Obama nor Clinton are going to accept (or offer) the VP slot to the other. It would destroy Obama’s change message by having Clinton be VP, and he’s never getting or accepting being Clinton’s VP.

    If we’re talking Obama VPs I imagine someone like Joe Biden with solid foreign policy credentials is high on the list.

    McCain-Lieberman? McCain is disliked enough by Republicans that he’ll have to go with Huckabee, or someone along those lines.

  3. January 5th, 2008 at 07:07 | #3

    i hope to see obama-edwards, this team would be likely to do as much as can be done without substantive change to the culture. it would also give vp experience to edwards who would still be young enough to be president next.

    obama-biden would add foreign policy experience to the ticket, and seems a reasonable bet.

    there’s no one on the repub side worth a vote. on the other hand, if dubya can be elected twice, anything is possible. i presume mccain and to-be-announced will finally get up, as the repub establishment gets the election out of the sticks and into the tv studio. they’ll be beaten, just being republican is dangerous to one’s career this time.

    i’ll put a hard copy under my pillow, as a reminder to not make predictions.

  4. January 5th, 2008 at 08:05 | #4

    Hi John

    I still think a Clinton/Richardson ticket is most likely.

    Obama is a very impressive guy and a brilliant orator but you would struggle to find a Presidential candidate in US political history as lacking in political experience as Obama (even George W clearly beats him on that score!) Interestingly Obama to date has pursued the Rudd strategy of avoiding serious political interviews while appearing on Leno, Oprah, Ellen etc.

    Bill Richardson (Democrat)gets little coverage but arguably is the most impressive candidate on either side given his background as a US Energy Secretary, US Ambassador to the UN and the Governor of New Mexico. He’s a fiscal conservative and Hispanic. He’d make an excellent Veep.

    On the Republican side, a key fact about Huckabee’s campaign overlooked in the woeful coverage of US politics in the Australian msm is who has been advising him – Dick Morris, probably the best political strategist of his generation and the guy who ran Clinton’s first campaign as Governor and developed Triangulation. The Huckabee thing is no fluke.

    Al’s comment about there being no-one on the Republican side is clearly wrong to any close observer of US politics although he is right about it being dangerous to be a Republican contender at the moment!

    McCain and Romney on any measure are extremely impressive guys. McCain frankly would be unbeatable on the issue of national security which plays a much more dominant role in US Presidential elections than Austraia. Romney also did not get a Harvard MBA, amass a 1/4 billion fortune from nothing and become Governor of Massachusetts (the home of the Kennedy clan) by being an idiot. I was thinking a McCain/Romney ticket was most likely but now I tend to lean towards what Keller is saying, McCain/Huckabee…reminds me a bit of the West Wing!

    It’s also interesting that if you look at an average of US polls the only Republican who beats both Hillary and Obama is McCain.

    For those wishing the best site to follow US politics, I’d recommend


  5. rog
    January 5th, 2008 at 09:31 | #5

    What is apparent is that in Iowa the dems have increased their polling by ~93% – a lot of 1st time voters. Extrapolating the numbers over the US puts the dems in a very powerful position


  6. rog
    January 5th, 2008 at 09:37 | #6

    Dont write off Obama so easily – a black man pulled off a majority vote in a mid west state where whites are 91% and blacks 2.5% – this is bad for Clinton

  7. rog
    January 5th, 2008 at 09:39 | #7

    An Obama-Clinton ticket is the ideal choice, it keeps the Clintons out of the White House

  8. Katz
    January 5th, 2008 at 09:55 | #8

    Still too early to call. There are many opportunities for slip-ups and revelations between now and the primaries for the big states.

    Clinton would have to be very worried by Iowa. Obama is a comet, but if Clinton couldn’t beat Edwards, then her wheels are starting to wobble.

    My guess is that Clinton will fade and withdraw. I expect much of her support to migrate to Edwards. Edwards is the safe hands for a White House starved Dem Party.

    Maybe the price for Edwards will be Clinton as Veep. But Edwards really doesn’t owe Clinton anything.

    The dream ticket for the Dems is Edwards-Obama.

    The GOP are dead men walking. Probably the most likely ticket is McCain-Huckabee. Don’t forget that the GOP has to get their base out to vote for half the Senate, the majority of whom are Republicans. 2008 is a damage control exercise for †he GOP. McCain-Huckabee makes traditional Republicans and the religious Right inclined to queue to vote for anyone come Nov 2008.

  9. Peter Wood
    January 5th, 2008 at 11:05 | #9

    The prediction markets have about a 2.2% chance of Hilary Clinton being nominated for vice president. The likelihoods of the presidential contest being between Obama and McCain, Obama and Giuliani, Clinton and McCain, and Clinton and Giuliani are all around 15-17%.

  10. Ikonoclast
    January 5th, 2008 at 11:07 | #10

    It makes no difference who wins the US election except perhaps for the well off classes domestically. They will all act to enforce US power overseas as far they can.

    The US has attacked at least 37 countries since World War 2. The United States most likely has been responsible since WWII for the deaths of between 20 and 30 million people in wars and conflicts scattered over the world.

  11. melanie
    January 5th, 2008 at 11:53 | #11

    Two thirds of the people who voted in Iowa were at the Democratic caucuses. The Republican caucuses were up by about a third from last time, but the Democratic numbers were up by over 90%.

    From the total votes cast (about 356,000), Obama got 24.5% and Huckabee 11.4% (and he was beaten by both Edwards and Clinton).

    That’s my take on Iowa (which, btw, had a margin of only 0.3% for Bush over Kerry last time).

  12. Katz
    January 5th, 2008 at 12:15 | #12

    It makes no difference who wins the US election except perhaps for the well off classes domestically. They will all act to enforce US power overseas as far they can.

    You don’t think the world would be quite a different place if the US Supreme court had voted 5-4 to Gore instead of Bush?


  13. January 5th, 2008 at 13:31 | #13

    Obama-Biden v McCain-Huckabee makes sense… but any ticket with Huckabee in it scares me a bit.

    Of course, I hope Ron Paul stays in the contest for as long as possible to make things interesting (he got 10% in Iowa), but realistically I think the Rep contest is between Gulianni & McCain.

    If the major parties put up their worst candidates (eg Edwards v Huckabee) then watch for Bloomberg putting up $1 billion to be the first elected independent President.

  14. Ikonoclast
    January 5th, 2008 at 16:53 | #14

    “You don’t think the world would be quite a different place if the US Supreme court had voted 5-4 to Gore instead of Bush?” – Katz.

    Correct Katz. I don’t think it would have made much difference. Otherwise, what you are positing is that one man (Al Gore instead of George Bush) would have made an enormous difference to the course of world history. That’s a bit like saying if one water atom had behaved a bit differently it would have made an enormous difference to how the flood waters went over the spillway of a major dam.

    History does not work like that. History is like physics in that a great masses of minute phenomena make up the macro phenomena. Yes, it would have been incrementally better and more hopeful if Gore had got in. That would have meant slightly more “atoms” (people) were behaving in a slightly more promising way.

    Maybe after 50 years of such incremental and spreading improvements the US might again be a decent world citizen instead of a psychopathic and vicious rogue state. Of course, all great powers become psychopathic and vicious. France was in Napoleon’s day. The British were too at the height of their power. So too the Russians and Chinese.

    Wherever power is unchecked amongst nations and amongst individuals its possesors spiral into the vortex of compelete megalomania.

  15. swio
    January 5th, 2008 at 17:22 | #15

    I always thought Clinton’s presidential run was simply not going to work. The democratic netroots hate her and everything she stands for. While they are not powerful enough to decide the candidate they are strong enough to veto one.

    Before Iowa it was clear both Obama and Edwards had around a solid 20% to 30% each while running on themes are explicitly anti-Clintonian. In Iowa it turned out it was actually 37% and 30%. That’s 67% of Iowa Dems voting for anti-Clinton candidates. I can’t see how she can turn that around.

  16. Ian Gould
    January 5th, 2008 at 19:59 | #16

    Clinton-Richardson to win over Giuliani/Huckabee.

    I give even odds on a Ron Paul third party run in which case the Republicans will lose decisively.

  17. Ian Gould
    January 5th, 2008 at 20:10 | #17

    From David Leip’s US Electoral atlas:

    State by state polling shows Clinton with a virtually unassailable lead and Giuliani well ahead.

    New York, Texas, Florida and California will pretty much decide the outcome.

    Clinton is ahead in all four.

    Giuliani is ahead in three with Texas undecided.

  18. Ian Gould
    January 5th, 2008 at 20:10 | #18
  19. SJ
    January 5th, 2008 at 22:09 | #19

    Ikonoclast Says:

    Correct Katz. I don’t think it would have made much difference.

    Personally, I think it would have made a hell of a difference.

    It took a great deal of incompetence and/or a great desire for a “new pearl harbor” to allow the 9/11 attack.

    Of course, Gore might have gone on to do quite different bad things, but the million plus dead Iraqis and Afghanis would not agree with you that the world would have been the same under Gore.

  20. The Doctor
    January 5th, 2008 at 22:30 | #20

    Ikonoclast – your comparison of populations and physics is interesting. You do realise that there is 14 orders of magnitude difference between number of atoms in a mole and the earth’s population, which means you have make the comparison with QED rather than classical physics!

  21. swio
    January 5th, 2008 at 23:05 | #21

    Ian Gould,

    The poll numbers in that link are way out of date. Some of them are from almost a month ago already and the big Super Tuesday round is another month away still. Clinton’s lead in those polls is simply down to name id and is sure to fall back down to more realistic levels once campaigning gets underway in earnest like it did in Iowa and is doing in New Hampshire (where latest polling shows a small lead). Iowa’s result is much more significant than the older poll numbers because it shows the what people think after they have been through an election campaign, something the voters of the major states are yet to really experience.

  22. Stephen L
    January 6th, 2008 at 02:11 | #22

    I didn’t know Dick Morris was advising Huckabee’s campaign, but it makes it less likely, not more, that he’ll get elected. Morris is brilliant at self-promotion, but his record comes down to one big win – helping the incumbent Clinton get re-elected, along with some stuff at state level. In Australia he was a frantic promoter of Latham, and we know how that turned out, and my recollection is he has a few other disasters to his name.

  23. January 6th, 2008 at 07:29 | #23

    ikonicle is right on the money, gore would make a difference, but not a significant difference. you can reasonably argue that staying out of iraq is significant, but i don’t think so.

    america would still be (attempting) to control the middle east with aggression, as they have been doing in every administration since ww2. covert means through the cia have resulted in the wtt attack, and many others. the rage driving this resistance to imperial meddling will always spill into overt conflict, which americans will regard as unjustified attack.

    if ron paul won the election and said:”bring the troops home, now!” the american economy would collapse. but he would be killed first.

    the empire will continue, gore or bush, obama or mccain. we can only hope an empty shell like romney doesn’t get in, for he has already demonstrated that he has no moral compass, and bush/cheney should have reminded americans of the dangers there.

  24. gerard
    January 6th, 2008 at 08:18 | #24

    Did somebody say Iowa? Don’t make fun of me, but I have been irrationally fascinated by Primary season in the US – Australian politics is pretty inconsequential as far as the world at large is concerned, but this is different. Before you tell me it’s all an expensive glamour show/beauty contest dominated by shallow marketing designed to give people the illusion of democracy, I already know this. However, it’s still fun to watch, since 2008 is looking to be a pretty important year in American political history one way or another. The Democratic beauty contest is pretty hot for obvious reasons, but the really interesting thing this year is the total train wreck of a Republican contest. I can’t take my eyes off it. It actually looks like the rotten, unholy alliance between Big Business and Christian Fundamentalism is starting to fall apart – praise God! As the GOP in its modern form is one of the most evil organizations in existence and practically the greatest threat to human survival on Earth, I think this is a very important development.

    The GOP revolution has reached its logical conclusion: America’s economy is in the toilet and Bush is pretty much in disgrace, mired in too many scandals to count, holding the lowest approval ratings in history and with subpoenas dangling over the heads of his White House staff. The GOP, which so recently seemed totally unassailable, is defending heaps of seats in Congress next election, and seems to have nobody good enough for the 08 White House race. All of their Presidential candidates (although better than Bush) totally suck balls,
    as even their despairing supporters will openly admit (read it, it’s funny).

    They got nobody!

    First there is Mitt Romney (supported by my brain-dead Texan co-worker), a magic-underpants wearing, illegal immigrant employing multi-millionaire cultist who is a total phony even by Republican standards. Having flipped flopped on his Massachusetts-friendly socially liberal positions on abortion, homosexuality and immigration he has suddenly this campaign season become a Hardcore Rightwing extremist, bashing up on any other GOP candidate who even breathes the softest criticism of Bush, while standing up for illegal torture, lawless mercenaries and fiscally insane tax-breaks, and all but pledging to smash the division between Church and State (a suck up to the fundies who are worried about his Mormonism). He’s been caught in several bare-faced lies about his record, his past beliefs and even his dad, after which he claims to have spoken ‘figuratively’. Being a ruling-class corporate tycoon he has plenty of support from the Business Elite, but the GOP base support is lukewarm, not just because he’s a Mormon but because he’s obviously (even to Republicans) a vain, egotistical liar with no principles.

    Romeny was the frontrunner, having spent millions of his personal fortune, but he just had his ass handed to him in Iowa by Gomer Huckleberry, the Bible-thumping grassroots candidate of the Christian fundamentalist base who says that his rise in the polls is due to divine intervention. Huckabee has the GOP’s Wall Street Elite pissing their pants. After exploiting the ‘useful idiot’ Christians base with religious fakery for decades, the GOP is now reaping the unexpected consequence – the base is putting up their own candidate independently of the Elite – and he’s leading! Huckabee is leading because he’s contrasting his grassroots, small-money candidacy with the millionaire-backed Corporate candidacies of Romney and others (Romney outspent him 17 to one in Iowa). Typical carpet-bagger attacks on the so-called liberal-intellectual elite is one thing, but actually embracing Christian populism and mentioning the REAL elite – the Money Elite – is quite another (as Pauline Hanson can tell you). Huckabee wears his dogmatic, anti-science fundamentalist ignorance like a badge of honour, proclaiming his belief that the world was created in 7 days and comparing homosexuality to necrophilia – all quite typical stuff, but the problem is that Huckabee is not just leading the white trash on, he actually believes it. Needless to say Wall Street will never let him get his preacher hands on the Treasury, and Rush Limbaugh, the Weekly Standard and other GOP organs have already been dispatched to bring him down. Democrats have already coined a word to describe how they feel about this GOP civil war: Huckenfreude.

    Terrified at the thought of a Huckabee candidacy, the GOP opinion leaders and MSM pundits and commentators seem to be reluctantly shifting their support to John McCain, the 72 year old “maverick” Republican who lost the 2000 primaries to Bush (after the Karl Rove started spreading rumors that he had fathered an illegitimate black child around the South). Unusually for a Republican, McCain seems to retain a fragment of a particle of conscience within his soul, and although it never stopped him serving as a front-row cheerleader for the Iraq War (he said troops should stay there for 100 years), he has had differences with the more fascist elements of the GOP during his career. He is best known as a supporter of campaign finance reform – although he only became a convert to this cause after he was caught receiving bribes in the 80s. Unusually for Republicans, he supports balanced budgets, and is not an opponent of science. He is also “againstâ€? illegal torture (Christ, what a f*cked-up party, where opposition to ILLEGAL TORTURE makes you a “maverick”), probably because he’s experienced torture himself. McCain introduced an anti-torture amendment in 05, which Bush, in his total disregard for the law, simply decided to void with one of his un-Constitutional “signing statementsâ€?. Next year McCain came up with a “compromiseâ€? in the 06 habeus-corpus stripping Military Commissions Act, giving retroactive legal immunity for all of Bush’s torturing, allowing torture-induced evidence in court, allowing the President to “interpretâ€? the Geneva Conventions basically as he sees fit. It’s hard to see how McCain can do his and still have his anti-torture reputation intact, yet astonishingly for a bill that gave the Torturer in Chief everything he wanted, Bush again voided this bill with a signing statement, proving that Congress under Bush is little more than a game of musical chairs. McCain, loyal coward that he is, has hardly issued a peep since, yet the Republicans’ hardcore elements in the leadership and most of the base still despise him for being too ‘moderate’ and for making a point that government shouldn’t “panderâ€? to religious leaders. They also strongly oppose him for being “soft on immigrationâ€? and supporting gun law reform. So while the Corpo-Right media commentariat have recently decided that he’s the only viable candidate left in this very weak field (by painful process of elimination), the base isn’t having a bar of it. McCain’s number one fan is the pathetic Democratic rejectee Joe Lieberman, who is obviously looking to get on board a second VP run, hopefully much less successful than his first.

    Who else is in this mess? Rudy Giuliani, the thrice-married, cross-dressing, pro-Choice, pro-immigration adulterer, whose only policy is to parrot “9-11” as the answer to every question. He’s an even stronger believer than Bush in unchecked, unaccountable executive power. As a Corpo-Right extremist he has Big Business support, but the Christian base opposes him for his godless socially liberal New York positions (not to mention the disgusting details of his private life) and his anti-gun positions. He does have some support from those who believe he’ll do the best job of glassing Muslims, but it’s draining away rapidly as information about his corrupt, mafia-connected Police Chief has comes out, along with discoveries that he billed the city for his mistress’ personal expenses and had the NYPD drive her around town and walk her poodle.

    The GOP was so unimpressed with their choices that they drafted the Law and Order actor Senator Fred Thomson. They may have been expecting another Reagan, but they’d just ended up “filling the vacuum with a zero”. Seemingly disinterested in the job, Thomson has languidly campaigned without formulating any policy positions. He was hoping to get by on his TV-career charisma without doing any work (and without having any charisma, for that matter). It looks like he’ll drop out of the race after NH – he thought he would be the automatic frontrunner but now there’s clearly no point.

    No wonder Ron Paul has so much support! None of the other candidates stand for anything except a continuation of the disastrous George Bush course, with varying degrees of theocracy. But not all Republicans are complete idiots (although as Mill(?) might have said, most complete idiots are Republicans), and some have even figured out that Bush and the modern GOP in fact stand for the polar opposite of the “small government” ideal that made them (idiotically) support the GOP for so long. Now their country’s up the proverbial creek, up to its eyeballs in debt, with a rapidly depreciating dollar, rising oil prices, a surveillance State, a totally perverted judicial system and a stretched military, the actions of which are vastly increasing the threat of international terrorism. The only runt in the litter who comes close to acknowledging this reality is Ron Paul, not because he is a sensible “moderateâ€?, but because he’s an extreme conservative – “conservativeâ€? in the traditional anti-tax, anti-government, isolationist sense, not in its current Corporo-fascist incarnation. And he is NOT a Libertarian; he is actually a xenophobic racist with some very un-libertarian beliefs when it comes to wombs. But in a party that once called itself the party of “small governmentâ€?, Paul is the only nominee who opposes the trillion dollar budget-busting Iraq occupation and who opposes the emerging police-state with its rollback of Constitutional rights and ubiquitous surveillance of citizens. His anti-income tax and Austrian-style economic beliefs have won him the support of a large number of Ayn Rand conservatives who aren’t happy with the corporate-religious brownshirts that have taken over the GOP (I have to say it took them long enough to wake up). He also seems to have a lock on the anti-Illuminati vote. The numerically tiny but very internet savvy Libertarians, not all complete lunatics, have worked themselves into a frenzy of enthusiasm over Ron Paul, building a national network of support independently of the official campaign. Through individual donations, Ron Paul has become the leading fundraiser of the GOP pack. This is absolutely horrifying news for the Republican Party, whose leading websites are all banning Paul supporters, and who are now excluding Paul from televised debates despite the fact that he’s running third or fourth in some states. But the “Ron Paul Revolutionâ€? is one of the most fascinating developments in American politics for quite some time IMHO.

    Anyway, the field is crap, and even better, it looks like the GOP in the Goldwater tradition is breaking apart under the weight of its own disastrous record and internal contradictions. Basically I can see something like three constituent parts coming unglued from each other, making clear to everyone that the GOP is actually a hypocritical fraud of a party, one that Lincoln would utterly disown, totally devoid of any coherent political philosophy except power-lust.

    The first of the three factions is America’s mega-rich Corpo-Right elite. The Big Business “Eastern Establishmentâ€? love Big Government and the Fed coming to bail them out whenever there’s trouble, as long as nobody ever helps the poor. Their objectives are minimizing business regulation, rolling back labor rights, cutting taxes for the richest 1%, and fat juicy corporate subsidies, especially through the opaque War Budget. Their program centers on private profits – they oppose any government spending that is ‘redistributive’ (welfare), but love record deficit spending on themselves, having seen the country borrow 3 trillion in the last 8 years to finance their personal tax cuts. They are extremely short-sighted, and don’t care about bankrupting the country because they think it will give them an excuse to privatize Social Security. They are pro-war, because they understand that control of world energy reserves is essential to ruling-class power, and also because they are heavily invested in the high-tech (and other) industries that benefit from huge “defenseâ€? spending. They support outsourcing and relaxed immigration policies for their wage-lowering effects. They love the anti-human, murderous for-profit healthcare system, because they’re the ones making the profit. They throw bones to the Religious Right on social issues, but in truth they don’t give a toss about gay marriage or abortion (and would never actually try to overturn Roe vs Wade, that golden-egg laying goose of Republican activism). They don’t care about evolution or stem-cells, but they are anti-science any time the subject of greenhouse gases comes up. Like Bush they have nothing but contempt for due process of law if it gets in the way of money and power. Nobody would ever vote for these people, so they use front men like Reagan and Bush, whose folksy stupidity appeals to the hicks. Unfortunately none of their front men this time around (Romney, Guiliani or McCain) have this sort of appeal.

    The evangelical KKKristian South is the second faction of the Republican Party, the lower-class ‘useful idiots’ that have been used ever since Reagan to win electoral support for policies very damaging to their own material interests. They are driven to the GOP by cultural issues, they hate abortion and have medieval attitudes towards sex, they loathe gay people, hate feminists, fear immigrants, despise Muslims. Based in the South, they were first attracted to the Republican party in the 70s and 80s out of opposition to the Civil Rights Act, and the GOP appeal to racism, sexism and homophobia has kept them there ever since. They are virulently anti-science, their reasoning process centers on blind faith rather than evidence. They are also virulently anti-peace, supporting ever bloody criminal act of their deified leader Bush because they are ignorant enough to believe it is retaliation for 9-11 (and also because they genuinely believe the Battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming are just around the corner). But now the health insurance crisis and the credit crunch are starting to squeeze the working-class base enough to wedge them away from the Corporate elite Republicans, driving them toward religious populism. They are extremely stupid, but finally after 8 years of being taken for granted, SOME of them are starting to realize that ultra-Corporate policies aren’t benefiting them, and they actually have nothing to do with Christianity. They are beginning to realize that the big medical, insurance and banking companies are ripping them sideways, and they don’t see anything wrong with economic protectionism. A major fault-line is the issue of immigration, which has turned many Republicans against Bush, since the GOP base and the GOP elite have clearly opposing economic interests, as well as attitudes toward race. While some have been moronic enough to fall for Romney’s fake pandering, many are attracted to the genuinely unscripted Christian populism of Huckabee, whom they have just anointed in Iowa. This is someone who the Corporate elite will never support. The problem is that the Christian movement has an organization and structure that can, at times, work independently of the GOP fat-cats. If Huckabee goes on to win the nomination then the GOP will really split in two, as the leadership tries to bring him down, showing what they really think of the ‘useful idiots’. Without these idiots though, the GOP can’t win elections.

    The third faction is the ‘Western’ Republicans, ‘South Park’ Republicans who often call themselves ‘Libertarians’ (a word which has a totally different meaning outside the US. In the US it basically means a non-religious right-winger who likes weed and porn and MAY have a half-read copy of Atlas Shrugged on the bookshelf). They don’t care about social issues like gay marriage etc., but are economically conservative and strongly individualist, believing in small government that keeps out of people’s lives and businesses. They are strongly opposed to taxation and contemptuous of Democratic “socialists� and “hippies�, and their paranoid opposition to environmentalism often leads them to embrace climate denialism although they do not otherwise share the Jesus freaks’ fear of science. Out of opposition to welfare, gun restrictions, and perceived pandering to minorities they long ago threw in their lot with the GOP, since they stupidly bought into Reagan’s shtick that he was for “small government�. Now Bush, a more extreme version of Reagan, is finally waking them up to the fact that the GOP has always stood for the precise opposite of “small government� – for a huge, expensive, inefficient, invasive, corrupt and lawless government with zero oversight and the most unbalanced budgets possible. These South Park Republicans may have thought the war was stupid/unnecessary (without ever even dreaming of campaigning alongside “hippies� to stop it), but are now starting to realize that it’s never going to end and that it’s bankrupting America (the morality of the war is probably not an issue for them). They are also starting to realize that the Republican party is full of fundamentalist nut-bars who want to put their religion in control of the courts and government, restrict medical research and know everything that goes on in your private life The ones with brains have already switched their support to the Democrats, some are daring to dream with Ron Paul. Either way, many are now totally disillusioned with the Republican Party, but the real question is… Why were they ever dumb enough to support the Republicans in the first place??? Neither Party reflects Libertarian ideals, but surely the Republicans are much further away… I can only imagine that many have such a bitter, blinkered view of society that they find tax money going to hospitals and schools more objectionable than mind-bogglingly huge deficit spending on Death and Destruction: massively expensive no-bid war contracts for administration cronies, funding for right-wing death squads and international torture prison networks, along with heavy restrictions on civil liberties (drug war, abortion, wiretapping etc.). Judging from the comments on rightwing message boards, I think that their support of the GOP is often related to personal preoccupations with proving their own masculinity.

    With Huckabee’s victory in Iowa, any Republican who is not a religious fruitcake is starting to sweat. The Party is hinging its hopes on McCain coming from behind (Romney’s damaged goods by now), but since it is the base that votes in primaries a Huckabee candidacy is more than possible. As the Party starts eating itself over this dilemma we are beginning to hear very interesting news of an independent candidacy from a group of high ranking, old white male Republicans and conservative Democrats with the Orwellian name Unity’08: “An America weary from a century and more of Democratic and Republican rule can at last get the change they crave: joint Republican and Democratic rule.�

    What is interesting is how many typically two-faced Republicans, now that the chips are down and their emperor’s nudity is on public display, are suddenly turning on their fascist party and embracing “bi-partisanship� (code for “more of the same Corpo-Right sh!te but without the Jesus freaks�). A split between the theocratic and non-theocratic elements of the GOP has been predicted for a long time, with the non-theocrats realizing they have more in common with the Dem right-wingers (actually they’re virtually indistinguishable) than with their own demented base. NY mayor Bloomberg, a one-man bank who recently became an independent, has denied that he is running for the Presidency, but a lot of insiders say he’s been seriously considering it, and God knows he has more than enough money for it. Chuck Hagel, the recently anti-war GOP senator, is at the forefront of this organization, along with a bunch of retired old-timers who I’ve never heard of. They call themelves “centrist�, but since most of the Democratic Party is already so “centrist� (Right), and with rumors of a McCain/Lieberman ticket floating around, I don’t see what the difference is. These ruling class archetypes are probably viewing the swell of activism within the Democrats with alarm, and are clearly worried that they might be facing a lose-lose situation this election if it’s a Democrat vs. Huckabee or some other unviable Republican. But it’s hard to predict what effect such a 3rd party ticket would have (although it’s not really a third party). Perot got Clinton elected in 92, but nobody can tell if a Unity08 candidate will help get the Ds or Rs elected. Although it would probably be an effort to counter Huckabee it might just end up getting him in office – so Bloomberg is probably serious when he said (allegedly) that he’s only going to get involved if he thinks he can actually win. However the Unity08 ticket is so blatantly elitist that I can’t see it winning, especially since “ending partisan rancor� is already a catch-cry of the leading R and D candidates and can hardly be considered a new message.

    Meanwhile the Democrats base is buzzing with energy – turnout at the Iowa caucuses was double the Republicans’ and well higher than in 2004 (the youth turnout for Obama was especially huge). Of course it is totally unprecedented (and quite wonderful) that for the first time in hundreds of years neither of the two frontrunners are white men. But white-man Edwards is the only one talking about the critically important issues of America’s huge working-poor (although rather late in the day considering his previous record). This is probably why his campaign is suffering a virtual media black-out. He is also the only one with a health plan which might possibly lead (albeit over a long period of time) to a single-payer government healthcare system. But it’s hard to forgive anyone involved in the Democratic Dive of 2004 (I am of course talking about John Kerry who must have made a secret Skull and Bones deal to deliberately lose the ’04 election, nothing else can explain such a piss-weak campaign).

    Hillary is hated by both the Left and the Right, but her support from the Corporate media is blatantly obvious – she basically stands for a restoration of Bill Clinton’s triangulating centre-right Presidency, and the elite (the ones with brains) hope she can clean up the radioactive mess that Bush (and themselves) have made of the country, its economy, military and legal system. But as a Democrat, Bill Clinton’s Presidency was a failure (his first of many big mistakes was letting the Bush Sr. bastards off after Iran-Contra and letting them regroup instead of chucking them in prison where they belong). A lot of Dems have drawn on Hillary’s support for a host of Republican causes like the Iraq and Iran war authorizations and the poor-bashing Bankruptcy Bill to show that she’s just an R in D clothing. She has definitely been positioning herself as a Rightist Democrat since she became Senator, but taken as a whole there really isn’t that much policy difference between Obama and HRC (Hillary says she was “misledâ€? although looking back on 02-03 it seems like one had to be pretty damned stupid to be misled when the lies were so obvious). The main difference is that Obama is just about the best orator to come along since Kennedy, nobody in politics today comes close. Of course, good speeches about “coming togetherâ€? don’t make a good candidate – Paul Krugman (who supports Edwards) has ripped into Obama’s HMO friendly healthcare plan and basically derided the idea that Ds and Rs can “come togetherâ€? to solve the nation’s problems (I agree, how to sit at a big table with pathological fascists and murderers?). On the issues, Edwards is the best of the three, but he doesn’t have a prayer to win the primaries. So it’s a choice between Obama and Clinton. Polling has shown Hillary with the highest negatives of any Dem candidate. In a political process which is mostly about glitz and glamour, where policy differences are almost totally ignored and where looking and sounding good on TV are more important than anything, why not go for the empty suit with the best superficial, cross-party appeal? I don’t understand all this obsession with “experienceâ€? – America’s political system is so pathologically criminal that the less experience the better, and teaching law at Harvard seems pretty good experience for someone whose biggest job may be cleaning up the rancid mess that the GOP has made of the American judiciary. Of course if you want deep, genuine change in society, electing a good person President is not the way to go about it, but it does make some measure of difference, especially considering the alternatives.

    Of course there’s the unavoidable question – would a racist country like America elect a black President? If it did, it would be momentous, although pretty cosmetic as far as America’s social/racial problems are concerned. But throw in an inauspicious middle name (Hussein), admissions of drug use and widespread FOX-news smears that he’s a Muslim and it gets even trickier. Of course most racist voters are dedicated R voters anyway, but a lot of racists never vote, and they might be motivated if Obama’s the candidate, no matter what southern white male he chooses as VP. Guess we’ll never know until it’s tried. But Hillary has the same problem – the Rs have spent the past 16 years convincing their base that she’s the devil incarnate, and good old-fashioned sexism is still socially acceptable in a way that explicit racism isn’t. Either way, bigotry is the Rs only remaining card, and Karl Rove is no doubt cooking up some sickening scheme at this very moment. Obama/Clinton would be his dream ticket.

    But maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves with all this talk about Democratic electability. After all, America does not have Australia’s clean, efficient electoral system. The last two elections were stolen: 2000 Bush lost the popular vote and won the electoral college vote due to irregularities in Florida, in 2004 Bush won the popular vote but still only won the electoral college due to irregularities in Ohio (although the Dems NEVER talk about the 04 theft for some reason). Now the Republicans, just when you think they couldn’t get any more despicable, have devised a most reprehensible plan to steal the 2008 Presidential election. It’s part of a California Republican campaign called ‘California Counts’ for a statewide referendum next June that would change the law to apportion California’s Electoral College votes according to the percentage of the vote won. Normally all of a state’s EC votes go to the party that won overall, even if they only win by 51%. Now if Cali’s vote is 40/60, the EC votes will be 40/60. Sounds pretty democratic, and a great improvement! Well it would be if it were happening in every state, but as it is, it is only happening in one – California, the state with the largest number of EC votes, which just so happens to be reliably Democratic. So the GOP will get 100% of Red State EC votes, plus a bonus 20 out of California’s 54 EC votes. Bang – stolen election, unless the Dems can somehow manage a huge majority. The cheating is so shamelessly transparent that one wonders why there’s hardly anyone talking about it. Kiss 2008 goodbye Democrats – the party of evil has outsmarted you again. Then again, there’s something about the way that Democrats never stand up for themselves that makes me wonder if they’re not trying to lose.

    Is anyone paying attention to a country that actually cares when elections are stolen?

    Kenya’s elections.
    A very African coup.

  25. Ikonoclast
    January 6th, 2008 at 08:44 | #25

    For “The Doctor”. I did put the word “atoms” in inverted commas. I was making a point in a metaphorical manner rather than a literal manner. There was also a play (in my mind at least) on the notion of humans in modern capitalistic society acting out of atomistic self-interest and yet the mass accretion of their behaviours creating macro behaviours.

    Overall, I hold to the thesis that history has laws just as physics has laws. This theory is posited in Tolstoy’s philosophical postscript essay to War and Peace. I am not sure of his philosophical antecedents for this theory.

    Tolstoy pointed out that the search for causes was fruitless and that we should simply try to discover the laws linking all empirical phenomena. Of course, he did that from the premise that there was a First Cause which caused everything so that it was pointless to look for any other cause other than the First Cause.

    I don’t see the “First Cause” as anything other than the “grand metaphysical hypothesis” as Popper called it. I do not know whether there is a “First Cause” or not. Nevertheless, I agree that seeking or attributing causes for empirical pehenomena is a dead end. All we can do, if we are honest, is find laws (where we can) which link phenomena. For example Boyles Law, of which p1xV1 = p2V2 is the common derivative, does not explain causes except in a trivial way as Popper would have said. Rather it links phenomena by a discovered dependable law regarding the relevant phenomena.

    It is our addiction to a belief in simple causation (and I am as bad as anyone in this) that leads us to think we can adduce discrete causes (always very simplistic) for vast historical phenomena. Like you know, Napoleon ordered the attack on Russia so his armies attacked Russia or Hitler’s policies caused World War 2.

    Notwithstanding the above, I agree with Popper that historicism is not defensible. Popper’s refutation of historicism is neat. Human knowledge affects the course of human history. We cannot know what knowledge we will have in future. Therefore we cannot predict the course of future human history. Popper’s refutation is the minimum case because of course becuase many other factors can affect human history and we cannot know how these factors will develop either.

    These considerations should make us more cautious than ever about assigning simplistic causes like the world would have been a (measureably?) better place if Gore had been elected. Greater forces are at work. As Al Loomis pointed out the US would still (most likely) be attempting to control the Middle East with aggression even if Gore had got in.

    We could adduce a probability (vanishingly low) that Gore would have got the US out of Middle East affairs by examining the historical record since World War 2 under all administrations. This indicates we are seeing “law-like” behaviour at the macro level. A great power tends to keep on doing what is has been doing (in terms of imperialistic beahviours) despite all changes in adminsitration / government.

    This is too vague for a law but we see the tendency. Perhaps a mathematical law could be found that relates national military expenditures as a proportion of world GDP to the number of foreign nationals that nation kills. That would be a law if it was found to be true.

    People, especially US people, don’t like thinking like that becuase they want to act all moralistic. “We are good and they are bad. Don’t you dare make it about mathematics. All the killings we do are morally justified therefore our kill score is essentially zero.”

  26. Katz
    January 6th, 2008 at 09:00 | #26

    The difference is that an atom didn’t write War and Piece. A human did.

    A human is conscious of her own condition.

    Consciousness makes change possible, perhaps inevitable.

  27. Katz
    January 6th, 2008 at 09:01 | #27

    er, War and PEACE.

  28. January 6th, 2008 at 11:30 | #28

    Stephen L says

    “Morris is brilliant at self-promotion, but his record comes down to one big win – helping the incumbent Clinton get re-elected”

    Stephen, agree with you on the self-promotion but frankly getting a President of the United States re-elected after the disaster that was the 1994 US Congressional and Senate elections which saw the Republicans win in a landslide, is good enough for me!

    You are also overlooking the fact that Triangulation has been one of the most heavily employed political strategies since. Blair successfully used it as did Bush in the 2000 campaign with the whole notion of “compassionate conservatism.”

  29. Ikonoclast
    January 6th, 2008 at 12:22 | #29

    Katz says, “The difference is that an atom didn’t write War and Piece. A human did.

    A human is conscious of her own condition.

    Consciousness makes change possible, perhaps inevitable.”

    Interesting points and I know what you are driving at even though a literalist interpretation of what you said leaves you wide open to all sorts of difficulties. 🙂

    Let’s take it point by point with both literal and non-literal replies.

    1. “The difference is that an atom didn’t write War and Peace. A human did.” Well, a human is a collection of atoms so I can say quite accurately that a collection of atoms wrote War and Peace. But it wasn’t precisely the same atoms right through the composition of W&P. Atoms flow through a person somewhat as they flow through a flame. (Think fuel/food and waste products.)

    Hence the human individual is perhaps more accurately identified with a persistent and evolving pattern of atoms (and molecules of course) rather than with the atoms per se.

    Consciousness is an interesting point. A human is conscious I agree but only under certain conditions. Due to our human heritage of myth, magic and religion many of us seem to assign some special essences to consciousness. There may or may not be special essences to consciousness (like a soul or free will to name two essences). I don’t know the asnwer to that.

    However, the assigning of special essences to human consciousness is clearly a process of metaphysical hypothesizing. If we limit ourselves to the empirical (which has been the only dependable objective truth and objective law discovering method to date) then we can only observe the following (each point represents a sub-set of those above).

    1. Matter/energy exists.
    2. Human individuals exist as growing and evolving matter/energy pattern constructs.
    3. Human consciousness exists (as a phenomenon of individual experience and group consensus about that experience).
    4. Human consciousness often attributes free will and/or some special “being essence” like a soul to itself.

    However, being conscious of our own condition does not in and of itself prove free will. The subjective apprehension of free will also does not prove the real existence of free will. Even if we are free in trivial ways like being able to lift or drop an arm when at general “liberty” then this is only trivial freedom. (Or maybe not so trivial one might think if the CIA or the Chinese police or whoever manacled one in a restricted position for hours on end.)

    There are many ways in which we are not free. We are not free to live forever in bodily form. We are not free to live without eating. We are not free to make movements which are impossible for our bodies.

    Consciouness and free will (so far as we may have them) feel precious. I tend to agree they are real and are precious (to us) even though I can’t actually prove we have the latter (free will).

    However, because of the preciousness of consciousness and apparent free will and creativity to ourselves, I think we tend to overestimate the impact of these factors on the evolution of humans and society IN THE SHORT TERM. In the long term, I susepect these factors can make a considerable difference.

    Mere change is possible without consciousness of course. Heraclitus essentially asserted that an object (any object) is and is not identical with itself of x instants ago. (All is flow, all is change but certain patterns have persistence at least to a degree.)

  30. Jack Strocchi
    January 6th, 2008 at 13:19 | #30

    About a year ago I predicted John Edwards will be Presdient 2008, working on the assumption of no Al Gore show. Unfortunately cant find the link.

    But I stick by it. Edwards is the best Democratic candidate. And after Iraq I dont think Republicans will be very electable.

  31. Ikonoclast
    January 6th, 2008 at 17:34 | #31

    Well John Edwards’ policies look reasonable given what we can realistically expect from an ultra-right wing quasi-democratic quasi-plutocracatic military-industrial gun-totin’ religious fundamentalist complex.

    If Edwards is elected that might be a sign that there has been a sea-change in attitude amongst big business and the middle classes about the climate change issue and about being a bit more moderate re overseas adventures and imperialistic beahviour. There would be some hope in such a change. There’s certainly no hope in the current course of the Bush administration.

  32. Ikonoclast
    January 6th, 2008 at 17:45 | #32

    Also, my simplistic assessment is that this time round the US (still a very conservative place) won’t elect for a President;

    A. A Republican;
    B. A Woman;
    C. A Black Person.

    That probably leaves Edwards sitting pretty. If he has the catchiest slogan and a good enough campaign budget then I agree he is home and hosed. IMNSHO. 🙂

  33. gerard
    January 6th, 2008 at 23:51 | #33

    The problem though is that Edwards doesn’t have such catchy slogans (Obama does the soundbite much better), and he has committed to public financing, putting him at a big funding disadvantage (although Huckabee would have less money than any of the Dems).

    Edwards has a miniscule chance of becoming the candidate, judging from primary polling. That means that your choice is either A, B or C.

    In any other year I would agree that America is too bigoted for a black or woman president. But there has pretty much never been a weaker field of Republican candidates. If it is ever going to happen it will happen this year. Cool!

  34. Katz
    January 7th, 2008 at 05:47 | #34

    There are many ways in which we are not free. We are not free to live forever in bodily form. We are not free to live without eating. We are not free to make movements which are impossible for our bodies.

    But in some ways we are free. And that’s critical.

  35. wilful
    January 7th, 2008 at 10:27 | #35

    It’s so far out and there are so many variables (and I know so little about some of the issues) that I would hesitate to predict what will happen. So I’ll just state my preferences: Edwards/Obama to thump massively Huckabee/McCain.

    Peace and rationality to beat war and religion.

  36. January 7th, 2008 at 12:08 | #36

    “But not all Republicans are complete idiots (although as Mill(?) might have said, most complete idiots are Republicans)…”

    This reminds me of a celebrated exchange about a century ago when a Republican campaigner mistakenly thought he had the perfect put down for a Democrat heckler:-

    “Why are you a Democrat?”

    “My father was a Democrat, and his father was a Democrat, so I’m a Democrat!”

    “And if your father had been a donkey, and his father had been a donkey, what would you be?”

    “A Republican!”

  37. mwilbert
    January 7th, 2008 at 12:19 | #37

    Edwards has no chance. He has no money, and doesn’t lead in the polls anywhere that I know of. Clinton has money, but the wrong message for this year’s zeitgeist, and although she has no reason not to keep running until at least the Feb 5 primaries, I predict that after getting thumped in New Hampshire on Tuesday she will be on life support. I don’t think she can win South Carolina if Obama wins convincingly in New Hampshire–she will almost certainly lose the bulk of her black support there, which is already eroding.

    Barring some kind of exogenous event in the real world that make Clinton more attractive relative to Obama, Obama is going to be the Democratic nominee. I agree with the people who dismiss the possibility of Clinton as Obama’s VP. I have no idea who he might pick.

    I don’t know who the Republican winner will be; the situation is very unstable. Right now it looks like McCain, but he has problems both with money and establishment support. It looks like Giuliani is imploding and will have lost his support before he gets to a state that he has a chance in, but he has the money to stay in to see if that is true. Romney isn’t looking much better, but he also has the money to stick around. The big question is whether Huckabee can expand past his evangelical base. I think not, or at least not enough, but even though he is underbriefed and his policies are absurd, and even though the party establishment dislikes him, he is a lot more charismatic and in touch with people’s actual concerns than the other Republicans. He could benefit if the US economy tanks fast enough and he is still in the race.

    Obama beats whoever the Republicans nominate unless there is some kind of significant terrorist event on US soil. He might win anyway, but without that I think that this year the R’s have no chance. Bloomberg is also a wild card, but I would bet that if Obama is nominated he will not run. Obama’s rhetoric undermines the rationale for his campaign.

    N.B. If Clinton wins in New Hampshire, this analysis is wrong, and she may well be the nominee. I think it is possible she could lose to McCain. But I don’t think there is much chance she can even come close in New Hampshire–I’m next door in Massachusetts and the Obama wave is palpable.

  38. Katz
    January 7th, 2008 at 13:46 | #38

    The first big state to have a Dem primary in Florida on 29 Jan.

    ATM according to this site Clinton is 2-1 ahead of Obama in the polls there.


    Of course, much can change between now and 29 Jan. But Clinton would sap 10 New Hamshires for one Florida.

    On the other hand, if Clinton loses in Florida, t’s curtains.

  39. Spiros
    January 7th, 2008 at 14:19 | #39

    Obama might well be the Dem candidate but to win the election he has to win in the South and I just can’t see those gun totin’, God fearing folks – the kind Joe Bageant wrote about in Deer Hunting with Jesus – voting for a liberal, urban, urbane black man from the North.

    Somebody, please tell me why I am wrong.

  40. January 7th, 2008 at 19:25 | #40

    “a liberal, urban, urbane black man from the North” – that could have come straight out of Blazing Saddles, and we know how that worked out and why (within the logic of the film).

  41. gerard
    January 7th, 2008 at 21:07 | #41

    a liberal, urban, MUSLIM black man from the North.

    I know he’s not actually a muslim, but Fox News and Rush Limbaugh don’t care, and that’s where these yokels get their info.

    But under the electoral college system the Confederate South is pretty much a write-off for the Democrats anyway.

    The Dems just need to win all the states they won in 2004 (plus Ohio, which the GOP stole in 04).

    The main problem is not the South, but California, at least if this California Counts proposal is successful. I just realized the link in my post didn’t work but here is the report http://www.iefd.org/articles/plot_to_rig_us_election.php

    Unless they can fix this California business the Democrats are just as well off boycotting the next election.

  42. snuh
    January 7th, 2008 at 21:08 | #42

    i am shocked and dismayed that no one is using this open thread to engage in a bitter flame war about that test match, aka 5 days that will live in infamy.

    in 15 years time no one will remember who won the iowa caucuses (without looking, who won for the democrats in 92?), but i doubt the test would have been forgotten.

  43. mwilbert
    January 7th, 2008 at 21:09 | #43

    It isn’t about the delegates, or no one would bother with New Hampshire and Iowa. It is about credibility as a candidate and the bandwagon effect that the winner gets. By the time the candidates get to Florida Clinton will not have a 2-1 lead over anybody.

    And the Democrats can win without winning any southern state, although I suspect they will win Virginia. They will probably also win Florida, if you count that as a southern state.

  44. Katz
    January 7th, 2008 at 21:33 | #44

    Clinton doesn’t need a 2-1 in Florida come 29 January.

    All she needs is a winning margin of one vote.

    If she gets that she’s back in the game.

  45. Peter Evans
    January 7th, 2008 at 21:52 | #45

    An Obama/Richardson ticket will clean the clock in 40 states come November.

    Hey, gerard, what a thumping good read! Keep it up.

  46. Spiros
    January 7th, 2008 at 22:06 | #46

    40 states? Not a chance. Obama won’t win a single electoral vote in the south or in any state west of the mississipppi until he gets to the left coast.

    Does this add up to a majority in the electoral college?

  47. snuh
    January 8th, 2008 at 08:16 | #47

    spiros, don’t oversell it. at the very least obama/richardson would be expected to pick up new mexico, of which bill richardson is currently a very popular governor, and which gore won in 2000.

  48. Peter Evans
    January 8th, 2008 at 09:46 | #48

    Spiros, these are the states an O/R ticket won’t win. Utah, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, South Carolina, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee (go Gore), Idaho, and maybe Georgia. Enough people are seriously crapped off this time, and they’ll have to empty wallets to reinforce it.

  49. Spiros
    January 8th, 2008 at 11:33 | #49

    North Carolina? Wyoming? Virginia? Arizona? North Dakota? Kansas? Nebraska? Missouri?

    All to be won by Obama (with or without Richardson)?

  50. EmJay
    January 8th, 2008 at 15:47 | #50
  51. gerard
    January 9th, 2008 at 01:50 | #51

    Crikey EmJay, that story is more than a month old! I’m well out-of-date. Can’t imagine how they couldn’t raise 2 million which ought to be chump change for those guys. Thanks for the good news link.

  52. Ian Gould
    January 9th, 2008 at 11:00 | #52

    At this very moment 10.57 AEST, Fox News is reporting that the results from the first precincts to close show Clinton leading Obama 37:36.

    That’s with only 9% of precincts reporting and I suspect she’ll drop substantially from there.


    “Early returns from the New Hampshire presidential primary show Hillary Clinton slightly edging out Barack Obama in the Democratic race and John McCain leading Mitt Romney by a significant margin in the GOP race.

    Hillary Clinton’s campaign had been girding for a defeat Tuesday following her third-place finish in Iowa, but with 9 percent of precincts reporting, the New York senator had 37 percent while Obama had 36.

    With the same percentage of precincts reporting on the Republican side, McCain was pulling 37 percent of the vote while Romney was pulling in 28 percent.”

    So far, this looks like Clinton’s done much better han was predicted over the last few days.

    So I’m wondering if the Clinton campaign deliberatey played down her prospects to reduce the perception of her as arrogant and unfeeling.

  53. snuh
    January 9th, 2008 at 15:54 | #53

    well that was unexpected.

  54. Katz
    January 9th, 2008 at 17:22 | #54

    Obama is now in big trouble.

    With a slew of southern primaries coming up, the wind is now in Edwards’ sails.

    And Edwards’ social progressivism will play well in crisis-wracked America.

  55. Ian Gould
    January 9th, 2008 at 17:50 | #55

    Sometimes, God really is on the side with the most regiments or, in this case, district workers.

  56. snuh
    January 9th, 2008 at 22:36 | #56

    katz, i actually think obama will do ok in the south. don’t forget that although blacks there are a minority, they are virtually all democrats and in most southern states there are enough of them that they are a major bloc of democratic primary-goers. so racism is unlikely to be a factor.

    in 1988, jesse jackson won democratic primaries in alabama, georgia, louisiana, mississippi, virginia and his home state of south carolina, so there’s no obvious reason to assume the hopelessness of obama’s southern cause. al gore (then a mediocre senator from tennessee) was also a candidate that year, so jackson got those results with competition from another viable southern democrat (who, incidentally, played the race card).

    i think hillary is the democrat who is likely to struggle in the south.

  57. melanie
    January 9th, 2008 at 23:37 | #57

    Oh boy! I’m waiting for the thread on New Hampshire.

    The turnout for the Dems was not so far above that for the GOP this time, but the things to note are that (a) Clinton-Obama combined scored 41.3% of the total vote compared to McCain-Romney 31.3%; (b)57% of voters at the Dem primary were women and they voted for Clinton 46 to Obama 34.

  58. Majorajam
    January 10th, 2008 at 09:27 | #58

    Yeah Katz, Hillary’s strongholds are on the coasts meaning the New Hampshire result was huge (her high double digit leads in the huge delegate states is secure). It now looks pretty unlikely Obama will break through the machine and everyone else is finished. Shame, but it satisfies the maxim that applies to my personal preferences in US Presidential politics: bet against whomever I support heavily, irrespective of the odds.

    Btw, my call on what did it for HRC in NH is the gender card. The media here has a lot of people who infuriate women by how they cover Hillary, (i.e. their thinly veiled hatred which they construe as misogynistic, and probably is), which was clearly an important factor. The other factor not to be discounted was Gloria Steinem’s NYT Op-Ed on the day of the primary entitled, “Women are Never Frontrunners”, with the explicit implication, “even when they are running against black males”. That appallingly emotive propaganda was on a huge number of Democratic primary voters’ doorstep the morning of the primary, and prominently displayed in their heavily traversed opinion section. Presidential politics consistently brings out the worst in this country.

  59. gerard
    January 10th, 2008 at 12:23 | #59

    bah humbug. The dems look like they’re going the way of 2004: pick a candidate certain to lose. I knew from the very beginning that Kerry would be a loser and I have the same feeling about Hillary.

  60. Ian Gould
    January 10th, 2008 at 20:36 | #60

    Richardson is out.

    His support base, minor as it is, will probably now mostly go to Clinton.

  61. Ikonoclast
    January 10th, 2008 at 22:06 | #61

    Hmmm, I guess my belief that not only the 2000 presidential election but also the 2004 one was stolen (remember the Diebold voting machines?) just makes me a crazy conspiracy theorist?

    Well, I like to quote Gore Vidal on conspiracy theories. He said basically this. If you beleive everything is a conspiracy then you are crazy. If you beleive there are no conspiracies then you are totally naive.

    2000 and 2004 were definitely stolen/rigged. The biggest myth of world politics is that the US is a democracy.

  62. Ian Gould
    January 10th, 2008 at 23:50 | #62

    It’s also worth noting that Clinton already leads Obama the delegate vote by 183 to 78.

    That’s largely due to her support from so-called superdelegates.

    She’s already almost 10% of the way to the 2021-odd delegates required to carry the nomination.

    Richardson had 19 superdelegates who have now been released by his withdrawal. I suspect Hillary will pick up most of them.


  63. Majorajam
    January 11th, 2008 at 05:44 | #63


    Can you site your source for Richardson supporter’s second choice? It’s not intuitive that they would break cleanly for any candidate, but Edwards has been the leading second choice candidate amongst Democrats (although that was pre New Hampshire. As far as the superdelegate contingent, believe me, the last thing those want to be seen as doing is deciding nominations. They are irrelevant, as is the delegate count more broadly. All that matters now are wins- Nevada (because SC will be tough for Clinton, especially after all the borderline race baiting that went on in NH), and then of course super Tuesday, which is a delegate bonanza. Right now, you’d have to give the edge to Clinton, but slightly. It’s going to be an eventful few weeks…

  64. Ian Gould
    January 11th, 2008 at 05:48 | #64

    M. my assumption that Richardson’s support will as I said “probably” tend to go to to Clinton is based on him being a fellow DLC “New Democrat” centrist and his ties with the Clintons as a former member of Bill Clinton’s administration.

  65. Stephen L
    January 11th, 2008 at 17:47 | #65


    My understanding is that in Iowa most of Richardson’s voters shifted to Edwards in the precincts where he didn’t get the 15% viability. I believe more went to Obama than Clinton. This may not apply everywhere, but at least on some issues Richardson was running to the left of the others, closer to Edwards irrespective of his DLC background. If Edwards is seen as viable I suspect he’ll pick up most of Richardson’s support, but if he can’t start making ground soon he may get written off and people will bypass him. Whether they will prefer Clinton or Obama is an open question.

  66. Stephen L
    January 11th, 2008 at 17:49 | #66

    Of course the real question that people have largely ignored is where will Edwards’ supporters go if he drops out. If his and Richardson’s votes had favoured Obama over Clinton by 2:1 New Hampshire would have been an easy win for Obama. I’ve no reason to think that would happen, but I’m surprised there has not been more discussion.

  67. Majorajam
    January 12th, 2008 at 11:28 | #67

    Stephen L,

    There actually has been a lot of discussion about how Edwards is hurting Obama (and I suppose vis versa, although obviously Obama has been more successful to date). However, most of the damage has been done to date, which is to say, incomparably more so than will be going forward. Whether or not Edwards stays in, his campaign is clearly in terminal decline, so most people who strongly favor Clinton over Obama or vis versa for second choices will now make the practical choice and jump ship. The remnants will see the choice far more ambiguously, so it’s much harder to say where they break, (although you have to say his leaving the campaign would still likely favor Obama, given there is no love lost between his campaign and HRC’s).

    Btw, Ian, I think that line of reasoning is abjectly insufficient. For example, it would have Kerry supporting Edwards, etc. etc. Politics has a short memory.

  68. gerard
    January 14th, 2008 at 18:42 | #68

    The real question is why would anyone want to be Bush’s successor, considering the total mess he has made out of absolutely everything. There’s a good chance of the chickens coming home to roost in the next Presidential term, and the next President will probably get the blame from an idiot media and public.

  69. Ian Gould
    January 14th, 2008 at 20:52 | #69

    Gerard, on the positive side, any of the current candidates other than Ron Paul would be an improvement over the incumbent.

  70. gerard
    January 14th, 2008 at 21:29 | #70

    I’d take Ron Paul over Bush any day.

  71. Ian Gould
    January 16th, 2008 at 23:45 | #71

    What is it abotu Ron Paul that attracts you?

    His desire to leave the UN?

    The desire to abolish the EPA and the FDA?

    His desire to take away Federal jurisdiction over civil rights?

    his support for individual states’ power to impose laws against homosexuality, abortion and interracial marriage?

    His votes against renewing both the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act?

    His support for the John Birch Society?

    His beleif in a New World Order conspiracy?

  72. Ian Gould
    January 16th, 2008 at 23:48 | #72

    Hilary now leads the delegate count 190 to 78.

    Since Richardson pulled out and without any primaries or caucuses in the meantime (the Michigan caucus didn’t count as no delegates were at stake),
    Hilary has picked up 7 superdelegate votes since Richardson pulled out.

    Obama hasn’t picked up any.

  73. gerard
    January 17th, 2008 at 05:59 | #73

    Oh believe me there’s nothing about Ron Paul that attracts me AT ALL. He’d definitely be terrible for the US (although worse than President Cheney I’m not sure), just better for the rest of the world. I’m talking from a global point of view.

    Anyway he’s got no chance of being President, but I’m glad he’s in the race, just to drive a wedge through the GOP. Loved the video of his reporters chasing Sean Hannity and shouting “Fox News Sucks!”

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