This is what political junkies live for, this political year. So far we have been treated to two big contests and both have been jaw dropping, pundit discrediting, newsworthy events.
It doesn't get any better than this for us.
For the first time in decades, we have an election season for the highest office in the land with no incumbent. We have record numbers of new voters registering to participate. We have exit polls showing one set of results and daily polling results showing another. We have a theme of 'change' being tossed about as though it is a new thought. We have, on both sides of the aisle, a veteran politician with the knowledge of how to win a national election going up against a novice with little meat on his bones. It's not going to be pretty.
So, what happened? McCain won handily and can relish his victory in New Hampshire. Romney is badly damaged, having come in second in Iowa and NH after spending millions, but won the Wyoming caucus Saturday. If he doesn't win Michigan next, his home state, with a legacy of being the son of a popular governor of that state, well, it's hard to come up with a winning strategy for him. He does, however, have a large personal wealth that can keep him going as long as he chooses to compete. Huckabee was dramatically behind McCain and Romney so he has to count on a good showing in South Carolina to remain in strong contention, especially in raising money.
Frankly, it did my heart good to see the McCain victory. The man is a warrior. The far right is having heartburn over it but that's the way it played out. Here's what I think, after pondering how he is treated by the conservative base: sometimes experience wins out. McCain has given the party's base plenty to criticize, that's a given, but he has made amends on much of it as time as passed. He admits the Bush tax cuts worked, which he opposed because spending cuts weren't included, he admits the McCain/Feingold legislation for campaign finance reform have brought unwanted consequences, he was right on his views on Iraq and the execution of the war, and he was right to be a part of the Gang of 14 especially now that Republicans are in the minority. He admits he had the message wrong on illegal immigration and that we must secure the borders before anything else. He has always been pro-life, if that is your issue. He doesn't ask for or support earmarks for his state. He has always doggedly pursued spending cuts and pork spending reduction.
I don't know what else he can do to convince voters. I would also like to remind you that if Thompson is your man, Fred was the third main sponsor of McCain/Feingold and until he began running for President frequently referred to the legislation as McCain/Feingold/Thompson. Proudly. He also has a history with a law firm that does lobbying work for Planned Parenthood. I just find his tag as the "true" conservative odd. No one in this race is pure.
The talk of a brokered convention for the Republicans is interesting.
Hillary can claim the Comeback Girl title now, as her husband claimed the Comeback Kid title back in the day. I told you that teary jag was a fine bit of theatre, didn't I? She even admitted this morning that it 'probably' helped her. Ya think? The women voters rallied around her and pushed her 3 points ahead of Obama in the end.
There was no way Hillary was going to drop out after one loss in Iowa. She is in it to the bitter end and will end up the candidate by convention time. It will be a hard pill to swallow for about half of the party and that will make for an interesting convention this summer. Rest assured that Hillary intends to cry all the way through the rest of the big contests and it'll work out just fine for her. She is even giving interviews on Fox News now. As is Obama, by the way. That is a true change in strategy. Obama never has been a guest on Fox yet now probably realizes he needs the independents and democrats that watch the channel. Sooner or later it was bound to dawn on the politicians boycotting Fox that it's not just a conservative network, an extension of the Republican National Committee. That's just petty, shallow thought from CNN and their sour grapes at how they have tanked in the polls. The Fox polling results proved to be the most accurate of the other network predictions.
Hillary even changed her strategy on who to have surrounding her while she did her speech thanking supporters last night. Remember in Iowa and how her stage looked like the wax museum with all the old Clinton administration people? There was Maddie Albright, Wes Clark, and Bill Clinton flanking her on either side. So much for change there. Last night it was all young people. Bill and Chelsea came up and embraced her but then they left the stage. She got the message.
The old war room is back. Not that it ever left. It'll just be a bit more out in the open now. Carville and Begala are back. Acknowledged or not. It's amusing how they claim not, yet were on the conference call discussing the shakeup needed in the campaign strategy. That would be advising, wouldn't it? And, Maddie Albright has a new book to hawk while supporting Hillary out there. It is a letter to the president-elect giving her wisdom on foreign policy. I assume it is a fast read.
I hope Obama is prepared to play hardball. If Hillary has already gone back to his kindergarten days to slime him and has made choice an issue against him using his record in Illinois, with how he voted 'present' on abortion rights legislation to secure the woman vote in NH, you can believe that is just a taste of what is to come.
I continue to believe I can vote for any of the Republican candidates without hesitation, except Ron Paul, of course. I prefer a couple more than others but everyone is entitled to my opinion. We have an open field from which to choose. It's invigorating. We have no Reagan but I would argue that Reagan is not needed this time around. The world has changed drastically since those days. Reagan was a successful leader with quiet diplomacy. Trust but verify. Peace through strength. The times now call for a more strident pro-offensive strategy in foreign policy.
On the other side, Hillary is the most palatable for foreign policy. The others are proud to be defeatists. The far left blogosphere will be having a hissy fit soon if it looks as though Hillary will run away with the primaries as time goes on. Hillary is only a defeatist if the polling calls for it.
No change there.