Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Tuesday Wrap-Up

As an Obama supporter, I'm pretty happy with his showing on Super Tuesday. Six months ago Hillary Clinton was the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination. Since then she has been slowly loosing ground to Obama and yesterday he broke even with her on the biggest day of the nomination process. This essentially bought him another round in the fight. He has the money to go further and he has the momentum. The Clinton camp will try to play this off as a victory, but clearly Obama did better than expected.

On the Republican side John McCain seized control of the GOP nomination, all but eliminating Mitt Romney. Mike Huckabee did well thanks to a strong showing in the south but he really has no chance anymore. Right now he is playing for vice president. A McCain-Hukcabee ticket could be interesting and formidable: experience plus values. You know how the conservatives love those things (reminds me of Cheney + Bush).

This brings me to an interesting situation for the Democrats. Thanks to the results on Super Tuesday they already know who they will be playing against in November. The Democrats can now pick the more formidable opponent to face McCain. This opponent is not Mrs. Clinton.

Clinton has been running on her so-called experience. McCain will neutralize that in a second. He has far more experience than Clinton does. McCain also has very high negatives among conservative voters. Clinton's, of course, are much higher. While McCain may not be able to unify and ignite the GOP electorate, the specter of Billary back in the White House certainly will. If someone like John Kerry incited so much contempt among the right-wing, what will they make of Hillary?

Many Democrats look at this and say--who cares? She's our candidate, and they don't have to like it. But the Democrats should carefully consider the losers they have run for President post-Clinton. Al Gore and John Kerry, while certainly experienced, and deserving, were certainly not charismatic. The fact that both of those luminaries could lose to a knucklehead like George W. Bush shows how much charisma does matter.

Enter Barack Obama. There's a reason why Mr. Obama is still alive and well, and gaining speed. There's a certain void open in the middle that Mrs. Clinton cannot fill. She is divisive and works the fringes and divides and conquers. Obama is filled with the rhetoric of unity and pragmatism. He says things like "we are the change we have been waiting for." He understands it takes all of us, the right, the middle, and the left, to create change. And he is not ashamed to say so. That might be why every Republican I know voted for Mr. Obama yesterday.

McCain would have his hands full against Mr. Obama, who is not running on insider experience or beltway connections. He is running on the power of grassroots and the power of the common person. He is youthful, and utterly unashamed. He claim the middle voter that McCain desperately needs to win.

The Democrats find themselves in an amazing position to win. The 2004 election loss was inexcusable for two reasons. One, George W. Bush was such a dope. And two, all the Democrats had to do was pick a person who neutralized his strengths. Someone like Howard Dean who did not vote for the war. But they went with Kerry, who tried to be like Bush, and was chewed up, spit out, and booed off stage. Will the Democrats make the same mistake in 2008? Or are they in it to win this time?

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