Friday, January 04, 2008
Last night's Iowa caucus was a great night for a number of reasons. First, there was Barack Obama's upset victory over Hillary Clinton in the Iowa Democratic caucus. The Caucasian caucus-goers gave Sen. Obama an eight-point win over Clinton and put him in first place for the Democratic nomination...I was also glad to see that John Edwards was able to get more support than Hillary did, despite the fact that she heavily outspent him. It's great to see the underdogs taking first and second place, especially considering my utter disenchantment with all things Clinton. Her voting record of support for Bush's war puts the lie to her newly-adopted mantra of change- Obama doesn't have her experience, but he also doesn't have her baggage.
And then there was Obama's masterful victory speech. It was a work of oratory art. He managed to take what I considered his weak point- the call for bi-partisan cooperation- and turned it into a strength that even this hard-bitten cynic has a hard time denying. The Illinois Senator didn't say anything particularly novel , it was the way he said it that I found important.
There was a passion behind his words that leads me to believe that he is very angry- as angry as Edwards- at the current state of Government; there was more than a hint of velvet glove/iron fist diplomacy...why didn't he just come out and say: "I am gonna go Teddy Roosevelt on your ass" a la Edwards?
I keep forgetting that America still has a long way to go regarding race and that, sadly, a significant number of non-black Americans will be uneasy with the idea of a black President - those voters would almost certainly be scared off by the idea of an angry black President.
The record number of white, middle-American Democrats who participated last night seems to indicate that race is, thankfully, a lot less important than the idea of change. It is inspiring to see new voters taking an active interest in politics- after all, it was a bored, disinterested public that allowed BushCo to usurp power in 2000.
And hold on to it in 2004.
Politics is like a sleeping pit bull- it may not be much fun to watch, but it's very risky to ignore.
Some observations :
- It's almost impossible to overstate the significance of a 98% white state tipping towards an African-American candidate. In Iowa , twice as many Democrats attended this year's meetings as in 2004- Obama will be unstoppable if he can inspire that sort of turnout in states with more diverse populations than Iowa. There is no reason to believe he cannot.
(Every state is more diverse than Iowa, btw)
- Obama , with a Kenyan father, has a personal connection to a region that mystifies many Americans, black and white alike. As violence rages around the election in Kenya this connection is increasingly important. Check out this map:
Can you find the unstable neighbors on this map? Obama can.
- A black president would be a powerful symbol to the rest of the world, a sign that America isn't over yet- that despite all our troubles we still have a better system than, say, Kenya or Pakistan. It would be a clear sign that we are moving forward, not backward.
- On the GOP side, turnout was around the same level as 2004- the big difference being the large number of evangelical Christians who turned out in support of Mike Huckabee, who apparently is holier than Mitt Romney.
The total number of GOP voters didn't much increase from 2004; for every Bible-thumper who came out to vote, a disenchanted conservative voter stayed home, indicating that the neocon-driven GOP continues to collapse. A few more implosions like Iowa and it'll be time to drown Grover Norquist in the bathtub.
- The Obama win is, hopefully, a warning to the traditional Big Money Democratic Party much in the same way that an ascendant Huckabee spells trouble for the Republicans. Out with the old, in with the new. That's an American tradition, ya know?
- By change, Huckabee means a return to 1950. I would like to say that a dim-bulb candidate like Huckabee doesn't stand a chance in a general election, but that's what I said about Bush in 2000. And 2004.
- The Iowa winners spent less money than the losers.
-The Iowa results accomplished another minor miracle- it kept Britney Spears off the news, even during a four-alarm public meltdown. Impressive.
Conclusion: Put me down as being for Obama, with Edwards as second.
It's a toss-up between Hillary, Ron Paul and Bullwinkle for third, leaning towards the Moose.
I hope it doesn't come to that.