Iowa’s caucuses — Sure, the NY Times edit page may be dumping a truckload of smug on our “undemocratic” process, but Iowans who care passionately about politics jammed their caucuses and thumbed their noses at everyone who says that this state shouldn’t matter. That maligned small gathering of old, gray and white party hacks in seed caps turned out to be a much larger gathering that included young Iowans and independent voters. Oh, and those lily white Midwesterners may have just put America on the road to its first black president. The dead Iowa stereotypes are stacking up like chord wood around here this morning.
That said, Iowa Democrats in particular had better hope Hillary doesn’t win the nomination, because if that happens, the caucuses are toast. Did you see the look on Bill’s face while she tried to explain her third place spinning butt-fall? He wanted to dismantle this state brick by brick and sell it to Canada.
Idealism — Someone at the bar last night was complaining that Obama is little more than a flowery public speaker. I want to see a plan for what she’s going to do, she said.
But the fact is Americans are desperate for a leader who has the skills to inspire them to make them feel proud, who knows what to say and how to say it with passion. They don’t want a wonky 12-point plan, they want some hope. Listen to Obama’s victory speech last night and you can easily see why caucus night went down the way it did. I heard it again on the way into work this morning. I’m as cynical as the next heartless hack, but that was goosebumps stuff. Hillary is in big, big trouble.
Lunch Pail Republicans — Sure, Evangelicals made Huckabee a winner. But So did lunch pail-carrying, deer hunting, churchgoing and NASCAR loving conservative Republicans who looked at Mitt Romney and saw their jerk boss standing there in an expensive suit with a fake smile. They didn’t like him and they didn’t trust him to look out for their best interests. Huckabee’s campaign, part revival, part blue collar comedy tour, was right up their alley.
Journalists — For reporters, you couldn’t have ordered a better caucus night. The best campaign here ever ended with the most dramatic outcome in decades. The ledes wrote themselves.
The Establishment — The kingmakers in both parties, who threw their expert support behind slick Mitt and Ms. Inevitable, had humble pie on their faces. They thought newbie Obama would never get the kids to the caucuses. They thought the media pounding Huckabee took at the end would be enough to finish him, and that Mitt would buy the caucuses just like the straw poll. Oops.
Republicans — Could this party be any more screwed up right now? Huckabee was a great caucus candidate, but he could be a general election disaster, especially if Obama wins. Romney and Giuliani are fading fast. (Did you notice Ron Paul had three times as much Iowa support as Rudy?) Thompson is sleepwalking. The GOP’s best hope may be McCain. He’s a likeable, solid candidate who could have general election appeal, especially among independents. His strength, experience, could be contrasted with Obama’s weakness.
T. Vilsack — Needless to say, this has not been a great year for our former governor. He abandoned his presidential bid, signed on with Hillary and then watched her go down in flames. Just think, he could be in year two of an illustrious third term, counting the triumphs handed to him by an adoring Democratic Legislature. It’s hard to believe this guy once had a golden political compass.