Friday, January 04, 2008

AN IOWA KIND OF SPECIAL CHIP-ON-THE-SHOULDER ATTITUDE. Iowa wasn't a big win for the two New Yorkers in the Presidential race. Each absorbed the blow characteristically.

The former mayor -- who famously began his charm offensive in Iowa by bailing on a May 2007 meet-up because the hosts didn't make enough money to highlight his estate tax message -- preemptively willed the result into irrelevance, spending the day in New Hampshire and Florida. The lead story at was "Rudy Giuliani Announces Maine Leadership Team." "Skipping Early States All Part of Giuliani's Plan," reported the Washington Post's blog The Trail. "We were not going to emphasize Iowa in the way two or three other candidates did," shrugged Giuliani. "We see this as a very different election." Huckabee's win (34% to Giuliani's 4%) drew a terse congratulation from Giuliani campaign manager Michael Duhaime, ending with "Rudy is the only Republican candidate who can not only win the primary and general elections, but will turn purple states red."

If Giuliani sought to ignore the import of the evening, Clinton sought to transform it to her benefit. She gave what we might call a victorious concession speech. She gloried in the "unprecedented turnout" and "clear message that we are going to have change." She grouped herself with Obama and Edwards and all the other candidates: "Together we have presented the case for change and have made it absolutely clear that America needs a new beginning." Then she gave the speech she probably would have given if she'd won. Translation: change is good, and the night's historic events were a victory for the Democratic Party and its eventual Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Iowa may not mean much for a while after the current crop of confetti is swept up, but it does contribute seven electoral votes in Presidential elections. If either candidate is back on the ballot in November, Iowa voters will probably recall the face each showed the state yesterday. Giuliani in particular may then be reminded of the old song from The Music Man: there's nothing halfway about the Iowa way to treat you.

UPDATE. Peggy Noonan, who was hard on "creepy" Huckabee a few weeks back, is now at least willing to suck up to his followers:
They believe that Mr. Huckabee, the minister who speaks their language, shares, down to the bone, their anxieties, concerns and beliefs. They fear that the other Republican candidates are caught up in a million smaller issues--taxing, spending, the global economy, Sunnis and Shia--and missing the central issue: again, our culture. They are populists who vote Republican, and as I have read their letters, I have felt nothing but respect.
Then she rips into Huckabee again. Sorta reminds me of Blazing Saddles: "You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know... morons!"

She's kind to Obama, mainly for pwning Hitlery, but I detect another Blazing Saddles moment underneath.

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