Steve Cleamons’s lengthy and insightful, if rather meandering, piece Agonizing Over the Candidates and Who They Really Are:
The fact is that no matter who emerges at the top in the coming set of primaries and caucuses, we aren’t going to know the real candidate. . .perhaps ever. All of these candidates are vessels for the interests and perspectives that surround them….[A]t some point, the candidate becomes a franchise of so many interests and perspectives, sometimes in internal conflict with one another, that what the candidate really thinks or feels becomes less important.
That is why I spend a lot of time looking at advisers, funders, and other interests that surround these candidates. Each is somewhat of a free trade zone unto himself or herself for political interests vying to steer him or her this way or that.
In 2004, Narco News Bulletin founder Al Giordano noticed the Kerry momentum in Iowa before anyone else this side of Michael Whooley. (He also thought Kerry would win the general, fwiw.) Blogging this election for Ruralvotes.com, Giordano offers some tips, and seems close to predicting an Obama victory on Thursday.
Polls will remain useless between now and Thursday’s caucuses. We have to rely on studying the ground game and our own instincts….The paucity of YouTube videos of Clinton in Iowa this week suggests either a lack of enthusiasm among her supporters to videotape or post them, or a decision by campaign staff that the events just don’t inspire anyone that’s not already committed
On the GOP side, Giordano adds:
Huckabee will win the Iowa caucuses (I opine) and that McCain is well positioned for a New Hampshire comeback five days later. (A McCain-Huckabee ticket to follow?) I covered Romney’s first electoral race – in 1994 for US Senate vs. Ted Kennedy – and I simply don’t think his learning curve has readied him for a national campaign in the way his personal fortune made him an early factor. Unless Romney (or Giuliani, or Thompson) catches fire soon, the Democratic nomination battle is the one that is harder to figure out and therefore gets more interesting by the day.
Meanwhile, in Iowa for the Boston Globe, Scott Helman sees signs to the effect that
while Edwards has a core group of seasoned, committed supporters who will caucus for him no matter what, Obama is drawing a lot more curious onlookers, who, if they are persuaded to his cause, could fuel his victory on Thursday. As anyone in Iowa will tell you, it will all come down to turnout.
Obama calls out Ron Paul:
“The latest polls show I am the only Democrat who is beating every single Republican in a head-to-head matchup,” Illinois Sen. Obama said in a packed middle school auditorium. “I beat Romney. I beat Thompson. I beat Huckabee. They didn’t poll what I’m doing against Ron Paul, but I’m going to beat him too.”
AFSCME’s Gerald McEntee addresses the debate over 527 funds:
The Obama campaign’s criticism of our political action committee and some of the so-called 527 efforts, such as the one organized in support of Edwards, is troubling because they are suggesting that workers are somehow a special interest, just like insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry….I don’t understand Senator Obama’s confusion about the difference between special interests and ordinary American’s like the Iowa voters who will caucus on January 3. He certainly was not confused when he accepted our union’s PAC money and volunteers and other support in his campaigns for the State Senate and the U.S. Senate.
Sullivan’s “dissent of the day,” from an unnamed Republican:
Most of us really wish there were more there there to Mr. Obama, both ideologically–in that he sounds like the same old centrist same old–except for his rhetoric on Iraq, not really a change and not even a change when it comes to politics–in that he doesn’t seem to provide much leadership when it comes to his colleagues; he doesn’t appear effective. He never votes or takes a stand when it counts, and how many initiatives has he taken.
Say what you will about Mrs. Clinton, she does seem effective, and maybe that’s what scares the bejesus out of all you right wing ideologues.
The Clintons win elections, work their asses off, and get a lot done, for the most part hire good people, actually get along with coworkers from the other party, even if they’re a pair of triangulatin’ fools.
Thomas de Zengotita, It Seems I Should Be For John Edwards — So Why Am I For Obama?
It’s not the policy, stupid, it’s the symbolism. Obama actually embodies what he represents. That means he doesn’t just represent change. He is change.