The King's Marquee

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

The King's View on the results in Iowa...

It was certainly an interesting night, but before you read my diatribe on the so-called results out of Iowa, everyone - Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should read this piece from Rich Geraghty at NRO Online. Anyone who thinks that the Iowa Caucasus is anything but an illegitimate sampling of America is dead wrong. That isn't to say that the results aren't important - I mean after all, 40 delegates toward your total when your opponents have none is meaningful. And the result shouldn't be discounted.

The problem is clearly what emphasis the media has placed on the result. One result in one unorthodox, out of the mainstream state. And I don't mean just by their words, but by their actions. What do I mean? Well for example, news outlets have created undue importance of winning Iowa by deciding that if candidates don't reach a certain total, that they will no longer be welcome to make Sunday appearances on political programs like Meet the Press or This Week, nor will they be invited to debate their competition if they didn't receive above a certain percent. In the age of media which plays a vital role in decision making and influence on everything - from which candidates we chose to which detergent we clean our clothes with - it seems as if they are helping to decide who goes forward, and who's out.

Personally, I completely disagree with the primary process in the United States. "Early in secures the win" is no way to choose a nominee, nor is spreading it out over months and months so that the end results are determined long before the time the last primaries take place. And its disingenuous to Americans for three or four large states to hold all the marbles - this process almost gives credibility to those who don't participate because they feel their vote doesn't count. In essence, living in Connecticut and voting in the primary nearly doesn't count when candidates are eliminated from the field by the time your state gets a chance to participate.

Front runners love this system. Long ago, Hillary Clinton was captured on tape after a debate urging John Edwards to help her find a way to eliminate the long shot candidates - among those deemed long-shorts by her playbook was Barrack Obama. My view is that if you run, you should stay in through the end. This means the Ron Pauls, the Dennis Kucinichs, the Duncan Hunters, the Chris Dodds, almost do a disservice by leaving because 1) they add value to the debate by raising points that others don't (or won't), 2) their withdrawal solidifies the chance of a candidate that may have won more delegates so far - but who may not be the BEST choice for the party. Again, the whole Bob Dole sequence from several years ago is an example of bad choices by Republicans, and 3) it sort of cheats the residents of states in later primaries who could be strongly for a candidate who drops out which may have had created some momentum for debate at the convention.

And speaking of conventions. When is the last time that a convention was interesting enough to revoke the primary system's result? The answer is probably certainly before the age of media, and before millions were spent on one primary alone. The problem with the delegates is that in today's day and age, they are not independent thinkers, they are chosen and paid for by the winning candidate. Loyalty and being on the winning side solidifies where their vote at the convention would be cast. So fireworks at the convention is very unlikely - its a well-scripted, choreographed show with no surprises permitted. And this is probably why the GOP has seen establishment candidates being quasi-challenged by independent runs from outsiders who do more to siphon votes from Republicans than from Democrats. Even if it helps the Democrats to have Indepedents run, I can understand the reason. The biggest problem with the GOP is its lack of creativity and openness - no question. Party loyalits and establishment men are almost always the nominees - so with the doors slammed shut - you find Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan and others making their own runs, and making the GOPs end game more difficult. Again, I can understand why.

The results...

OK, enough whining about an imperfect system. Many of you are saying, "King, you are just upset that your candidate could be one and done". And I admit, that is certainly a possibility by the way things look.

The biggest loser of the night was Mitt Romney. Not only was he my hopeful Presidential candidate, but he seems to have found the label as "the establishment's man" which makes the results in Iowa all the more juicy for media types who love to see David slay Goliath (hell, we all do, don't we?). Mitt needed a win in Iowa because New Hampshire is shaping up to be a McCain victory. This leaves Mitt with only Michigan left to win in order to remain a viable candidate. Reasonable people will agree that Florida and New York will most likely go to Guiliani who will lay low until those primaries are closer.

I still believe that Mitt Romney is the GOP's best candidate based on electability, experience, communication style, and resume against Hillary/Edwards/Obama in November. The rest of GOP field doesn't have the traction or already has a record for the Democrats to expose. Tuesday could mean the end Mitt if he places third, or if the convention becomes something it hasn't been for decades - a forum for debate and decision-making.

Hillary Clinton is a loser too, but I don't think she is eliminated from final victory. The Democratic race is going to remain interesting through the lesser states. All three candidates are great choices and I expect that Obama's surprise win agitates the establishment camps of Hillary and Edwards who saw themselves as the two battling for nomination, neck and neck over the next several months. An upstart, underfunded Obama deserves credit for pulling out a win and delivering about as much "shock and awe" as we've seen in recent decades. While you can't discount Edwards or Clinton whatsoever, he's a REAL problem for them now that he has momentum. Again, Iowa isn't America and as the first link I gave you earlier indicates, the Caucus system is not a legitimate sampling.

The Clinton camp has already started the comments that they don't know what Obama stands for, and in my view that translates to "we don't know how to combat this guy, so let's zone in on him, hope he makes a few gaffs and exploit them." That's what it means. If Obama is smart, he'll just keep doing what he's doing. He'll let the Clintons and Edwardses go negative (they have to) and he can just keep on staying positive, which could certainly secure him the nomination. Now if Obama wins New Hampshire, I bet he could win Michigan, and even other states.

Back to the GOP. Mike Huckabee's win in Iowa (and the perceived front runner declaration it gives him) is not necessarily a good thing for the GOP. Mike Huckabee just cannot be our nominee in November. I can't think of any match up I would rather NOT have than Huckleberry Huckabee yucking it up on our behalf against the firepower and energy of either a youthful Obama, or a fiery Edwards, or a strategic political chessplayer like Hillary (and friends).

And when key Democratic strategists like Susan Estrich go on television or write articles about how a Huckabee nomination will nearly guarantee a Democratic victory in November, they mean it. And they are right. Sorry Huck. Looking at you is looking at Dole II. If people at the Party level don't understand this than we deserve to lose.

If there is a winner in all of this, its the Democratic Party. No question. The GOP just suffered its first set back. In a field of Republicans, their best and perhaps only hope just got creamed. It's hard to excited about an old establishment man with health and anger issues from Arizona (McCain), A mild-mannered, uncharismatic soft-spoken Bible-thumper from Arkansas (Huckabee), or hard-nose New Yorker with a wild past who found conservatism yesterday (Guiliani).

And even though they say its not over until the fat lady sings, she just may be gearing up after Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.

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