International Writers Magazine: Reality Check
Rises, Hillary Skids/GOP Field Swings Wide On A Holy Huckabee Blip
most historic of election years, with no incumbent and a primary
season beginning as early as any before, and its candidates for
both major parties ranging from an African-American, an Hispanic,
a Mormon, an Italian Catholic, a Fundamentalist to a woman, the
first salvo was fired across the frozen cornfields of Iowa on the
first Thursday of the new year. And although it is a minor shift
in the system -- these oddly constructed caucuses so early in the
process -- the results may have vaulted one winner into the kind
of momentum that cannot be slowed and another sending his party
into an all-out gang fight or at least a fairly entertaining skirmish
between an insurgent eccentric and the fat-cat establishment.
half-year ago the victories of Barrack Obama and Mike Huckabee, even
considering the queer vagaries of the Iowa Caucuses, would have seemed
daft. Huckabee was an ill-coached religious nut and Obama was a flavor-of-the-month
young black man who'd been senator for five minutes. They were both
way behind in the polls and their campaigns seemed lost. Both are now
something extremely binding in this business of politics; they are winners.
What this means for either of these men, their party's
final choice for a national candidate or ultimately the presidency,
or even what the people of New Hampshire might do five days out or South
Carolina soon after is anyone's guess.
For now, they are winners. Moreover, they are underdog
winners, a perilous position to be in at kick-off. This is especially
true when considering both of their prime opponents' money, organization
power, and insatiable madness not to lose.
Make no mistake; Mike Huckabee is not going to be the
Republican nominee for president of the United States, any more than
Pat Buchanan was going to be in 1992 or John McCain in 2000, or George
H. W. Bush way back in 1980. Huckabee's Iowa stand will be his Alamo,
a mere blip on the rest of this exercise. But what Iowa managed to do
for the Republican Party was provide suitable tread for the drag-ass
McCain, Fred Thompson, and Rudy Giuliani campaigns, ostensibly opening
wide the door of opportunity for the entire field.
Particularly, it is McCain who remains a dangerous counter-offensive
for a party that has never embraced him, in fact, mostly despises him,
but may have to decide he is the only Republican candidate who could
stave off an unavoidable Democratic take-over on the national stage.
Had Mitt Romney, the party darling and fabricated
money pit, won, there would have been an inevitability to the coming
weeks which would have made campaigning something of a pathetic dirge.
Instead, the insanity of the Huckabee victory is like some kind of free
pass for every GOP candidate, including the mercurial Ron Paul run.
It literally put the fear of God into the party powerbrokers, who watched
their golden shyster piss away nearly eight million dollars for the
right to be flogged like a musk ox by a Bible fanatic.
RNC Chairman, Mike Duncan, looking more like someone who
wandered into a dangerous neighborhood with a fat wallet than the party's
staunch figurehead, clearly had a hard time coming to grips with it,
and probably should not have been coerced to appear boondoggled on national
television. Before long, wide-eyed and sweating profusely, he was making
weirdly formed cases for Duncan Hunter and the ghost of Strom Thurmond.
"Anything, Jesus, anything but this!" he screamed
into the camera.
But it was a joyous yawp compared to the fallout at Clinton
Central, where phone calls from New Hampshire did not bring good news.
These are the tough inquiries when the wheels begin to come loose. The
ones from under-whelmed fundraisers in Manhattan and Southern California
who need to know what the fuck happened to promises that "the worst
that will transpire in Iowa is a cheap Edwards victory, which we'll
wipe clean in five days."
Unlike Huckabee, Barrack Obama is no joke, no mere blip
or strange eruption of angered extremists sending a message to the party
platform. He is a rock star. He is a revivalist voice from some remote
outpost; a phenomenon of youth, race, and indescribable energy. He looks
like he was created for the stump, a modern-day Moses in a power tie;
something the Democrats have been begging for since Robert Kennedy was
murdered, his younger brother left a woman to drown in his car, and
Gary Hart danced away on a yacht.
Obama's speech election night was pure inspiration. Coming
as it did on the heels of Senator Rodham's robotic concession drone,
it was pure theater. Worse still for Clinton, Obama obliterated the
once impenetrable suit of Hillary armor, the fallacy of the Electable
Inevitable, the all-important national poll numbers which had her guffawing
at the silly notion of these annoying little primaries. Madam Shoo-In's
defeat is compounded by a count of 41 to 17 percent of independents
and the ridiculous amount of women, particularly young women, who voted
overwhelmingly for her surging opponent.
Traditional wisdom by early morning after the Iowa Caucuses
had the rural, predominantly middle-class, white, working class Midwesterners
leveling a stark repudiation on the status quo; a weakened president,
a flaccid congress, and a heap of economic and foreign policy woe to
come: A barely one-term senator with no experience (little blood on
his hands and less skeletons in the closets) and a down-home Baptist
preacher, a true GOP outsider/underdog (not a corporate puppet) crushing
the two more entrenched national frontrunners.
It is a theory certainly co-opted by a shaken John Edwards,
who had more or less spent the past four years banking on Iowa to jettison
his last hurrah. He stood before his stunned constituents and shouted,
"Tonight there is a vote for change!"
But it was certainly not a vote for Edwards, who, unlike
the Republican clan, can only endure one more defeat before surrendering.
Then, what does he do with his formidable support? Hand it to the woman
he has been thrashing relentlessly for months or to the rocket ride
It is true that the Iowa turnout broke records in all
demographics, including youth, women, and independents. Sixty percent
of the participants were first-timers. Lines formed early. People were
turned away. Well over two-hundred thousand participated, an eighty-nine
percent growth from 2004 in a swing-state that split between Al Gore
in 2000 and George W. Bush four years later.
It was arguably the most powerfully resonant Iowa Caucus
in history, but all of it means little without New Hampshire's outcome
in less than a week. It sits there like a firewall, a Waterloo, or a
lunching pad of historical proportions.
Obama wins there, then he will surely take South Carolina
and begin to put the squeeze on things. Huckabee shows up and he will
make life hard for the GOP big boys, and if McCain makes his stand,
there will be hard decisions coming.
Campion Jan 5th 2008
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