Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 1, 2008

WITH 48 HOURS TO GO.... Let's see, we're just two days until the Iowa caucuses; do you know where your candidates are?

* Kucinich is urging his Iowa supporters to back Obama (unlike in '04, when he partnered with Edwards);

* Edwards has picked up Ralph Nader's backing, at least for now, while the former Green Party candidate ponders his 716th independent bid;

* Elizabeth Edwards and Michelle Obama are at odds over Edwards' controversial decision to stay within the limits of the public-financing system;

* Clinton stepped on her message a bit by getting confused about scheduled Pakistani elections (and Biden is trying to take advantage);

* Romney questioned Bush's "management" of the war in Iraq;

* Unlike the Register, the latest CNN poll shows Clinton leading Obama in Iowa, 33% to 31%, and Romney leading Huckabee, 31% to 28%;

* Huckabee is still loving those carefully-placed Christian symbols in his TV ads;

* And Nagourney raises an often-overlooked point: Don't be surprised if the results on Thursday night, particularly on the Democratic side, are so close that they "muddle things further and potentially extend the time before Democrats know their nominee." (Imagine that; we might have to wait for more than one state to participate before knowing who the nominee is going to be.)

Stay tuned.

Steve Benen 8:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Comments

I find Nader's support of Edwards to be a gesture of his disdain for the Democratic Party. Edwards is the reason Kerry lost in 2004. If Kerry had picked Gephardt, it would have gained him more than picking Edwards, who couldn't even carry his own state. That's beyond dispute. Edwards is less qualified to be President than was Dan Quayle. Thus, Nader is thumbing his nose at the Democratic Party.

Posted by: Toby Petzold on January 1, 2008 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Go Gephardt!

Posted by: antiphone on January 1, 2008 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Ad Nags is still going strong? Who knew?

I really hope he starts blogging again.

Posted by: F. Frederson on January 1, 2008 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards is the reason Kerry lost in 2004.

Even Al is rarely that disconnected from reality.

Posted by: bob on January 1, 2008 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

Nader didn't only endorse edwards. He really bashed Clinton. Seems like he'd be ok with Obama too. Gives more support to the anyone but Hillary contingent .

Posted by: Jor on January 1, 2008 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Hillary didn't know that Musheriff wasn't on the ballot this upcoming election in Pakistan. LOL!

Posted by: egbert on January 1, 2008 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

Musheriff

Fucking brilliant. How can people not crack up at this guy?

Posted by: shortstop on January 1, 2008 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert is obviously a parody troll. The only question I have is whether or not he knows it.

Posted by: mwg on January 1, 2008 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, egbert - Musherrif! LOL, indeed. But we are laughing at you, not with you...Dipshit.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 1, 2008 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

Ralph Nader is not pondering "his 716th independent bid." Ralph Nader has not had 715 previous bids, independent or not. The number in question is much, much less. Therefore, everything you liberals have ever written in this article or on this Web site is entirely worthless and without merit.

No wonder the far-left tree huggers want Ralph Nader when all you mainstream reprobates and corporation-loving creatures of Washington must tell lies in order to prop up the candidate of your dreams, Hillary Clinton. Did you know that she's a lesbian and she had a black baby??? Did you??!!!

Posted by: Anon on January 1, 2008 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

because I'm sick I'm going to add something super substantive to this conversation. Why does Steve B. have to be Kevin's replacement every time Kevin is gone? He writes an awful lot but the occasional post I read seems to be just restating someone else's opinion or summarizing some article. Also, how can hillz or romney be said to be "leading" when surely SURELY those results are within the margin of error (which he doesn't bother to tell us). That's really more of a dead heat, isn't it?

Verdict: sucko. (and, no I'm not going to go read the CNN link and see if I'm write about the margin of error thing. I am, like I said, sick).

Recommendation: Have someone else guest blog next time. Please.

Nothing personal, steve. You seem to be doing fine regardless of my peevishness.

Posted by: alex on January 1, 2008 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

Why does Steve B. have to be Kevin's replacement every time Kevin is gone?

Steve B is great! If I had to pick three favorite bloggers I'd probably go for Josh Marshall, Kevin, and Steve B, in that order.

Posted by: bob on January 1, 2008 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Not to be cynical, but the Iowa caucuses don't mean shit to a tree. Barely 10% of the eligible voters even show up - in a state that barely has a million people in the whole state.

The Dem nominee will be Hillary with Willard the Mormon for the GOP. Hillary will kick Willard's ass in the general election and then nothing will change. If the Big Three automakers get behind it, national health insurance might have a chance. Otherwise, not a damn thing will change...

We need radical change. But, we won't get it.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 1, 2008 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

'We need radical change. But, we won't get it.'

Pitchforks and torches, my friend. That is what it is gonna take this time.

Posted by: Aaron on January 1, 2008 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

alex, what a little pissy baby you're being; take some cold meds or a patented hangover cure or whatever. Steve, you're doing a great job and we appreciate you. Happy new year.

Posted by: shortstop on January 1, 2008 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

I've been telling people the way to solve our big problems is to elect someone who at least knows we have problems and what's more has a bit of a record fighting the guys who cause the problems.

Now, not everybody agrees on which candidate would do the job of president best. That's obvious.

But, why is it so difficult for people to see that Obama is at least half-way campaigning as a Republican?

Why is it so difficult for people to see that Hillary is just a candidate who says what focus groups tell her and that she really seems to have very few ideals or goals or scruples?

Those things seem pretty obvious to me. That's why I'm for Edwards.

****** Campaign slogan goes here *****

when I'm not being criticized for using them too much in this country where 'free speech' is so highly prized.

Posted by: MarkH on January 1, 2008 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

I won't believe that Edwards' supporters are serious about him until they burn down the corporate headquarters of something.

Or smash the windows of a burger chain store.

Or mail dog turds to their credit card companies.

Or egg the house of a Fox news reporter.

Or give the finger to a Chevron station.

Or fail to say thank you to a bank teller.

Grrr; they're not gonna take it anymore, they're gonna FIGHT!!

Posted by: lampwick on January 1, 2008 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

With the Iowa caucus now just two days away, a new poll from the Des Moines Register suggests that Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mike Huckabee are maintaining small leads. But while Thursday's vote promises to be a nail-biter for both parties, an even more compelling story line may be whether the result catapults the winners to victories in upcoming primary contests. The question on Friday becomes who, if anyone, will benefit from the "Iowa Effect."

For the details, see:
"No 'Iowa Effect' in '08?"

Posted by: Angry on January 1, 2008 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

But, why is it so difficult for people to see that Obama is at least half-way campaigning as a Republican?

I've seen this meme-of-desperation several times today, but never with any substance to back it up. Obama is not campaigning as a Republican, or anything like a Republican. The closest you could come if you want a Republican-like Democratic candidate would be the one who voted for the Iraq war, supported the surge, supported Bush's threats of war against Iran, etc.

Posted by: bob on January 1, 2008 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

when I'm not being criticized for using them too much in this country where 'free speech' is so highly prized.

Well, I guess it isn't just conservatives that need to get over themselves.

You are free to support Edwards, and campaign for him, and post your support in the appropriate forums. (Like at the Edwards blogs.)

But every single PA thread isn't necessarily the right place.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 1, 2008 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

See, the way free speech works, MarkH, is that people can choose to exercise it by criticizing the way you choose to exercise it.

Posted by: shortstop on January 1, 2008 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

Iowa is just a shell game, but it's the only game at the moment so the media is overplaying it. The winners will falsely tout the results. The losers will redefine winning. We won't really know who won until after the nominations have already been secured. In short, this is an expensive but largely meaningless beauty contest. "Management" of the war? What management, Mitt? If this is management, give me chaos.

Posted by: hollywood on January 1, 2008 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting that Kucinich will throw support to Obama rather than Edwards. Am I really going to have to rethink this all over again?

Posted by: nepeta on January 2, 2008 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

The Dem nominee will be Hillary with Willard the Mormon for the GOP

If that's the case, I'd worry for Democrats come the fall. Romney's glaring weakness -- his nausea-inspiring inauthenticity -- would get canceled out by Hillary's similar issues. Then it becomes a race based on the "free market" vs. "socialism" with Romney running as a manager/businessman and Hillary as the defender of
Big Government. In addition, the media will tag Romney as the fresher, more inspired choice when compared with Hillary's prior experience in the White House. Her only chance would be an unlikely mobilization of the women vote, which a) doesn't seem like a winning strategy and b) is divisive.

So, as loathsome as he is, Romney could pull it out. It's a big reason to consider Obama (whose trustworthiness would be a nice contrast to Mitt) or Edwards (who would perhaps peel off some of those good ol' boys who wouldn't vote for a Mormon)

Posted by: RyanMcC on January 2, 2008 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

OFF TOPIC: Regarding Osama Bin Laden:

I've just watched the first episode of the English comedy sketch show "The Omid Djalili Show" (I looked it up because I'm a HUGE fan of guest star Rita Davies, who is elderly but fantastically beautiful) and there's a funny sketch where Djalili plays a "vivacious" Scottish film school graduate who goes to Afghanistan and ends up filming Osama Bin Laden. Check it out, it's pretty funny.

I'll have to look up the other episodes, because so much of the show was so funny. I'm surprised, and the "edgy," "multi-cultural" humor works here, not like in the Canadian sitcom "Little Mosque On the Prairie," which was a big disappointment. I wanted it to be good because the lead actor was so likeable and the preview where he's picked up for questioning at the airport was so funny, but the show was so relentlessly lame and preachy. I valiantly tried to watch it, but I had to give up.

Anyway, this has been your cultural report of the day. Spend your time thinking more about what I tell you and less about the caucuses and you'll be much happier.

Posted by: Anon on January 2, 2008 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

I'll have to look up the other episodes, because so much of the show was so funny. I'm surprised, and the "edgy," "multi-cultural" humor works here, not like in the Canadian sitcom "Little Mosque On the Prairie," which was a big disappointment. I wanted电炉
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袋式除尘器 it to be good because the lead actor was so likeable and the preview where he's picked up for questioning at the airport was so funny, but the show was so relentlessly lame and preachy. I valiantly tried to watch it, but I had to give up.

Posted by: dd on January 2, 2008 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

Which candidate do you think best exemplifies the quality "callipygous"?

Please use your answer in a sentence.

Posted by: anonymous on January 2, 2008 at 4:15 AM | PERMALINK

Toby: "If Kerry had picked Gephardt, it would have gained him more than picking Edwards, who couldn't even carry his own state."

Dude, whatever you're smoking, I hope you brought enough here for everybody.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, disappointed in New Orleans -- but hey, that's life! on January 2, 2008 at 5:39 AM | PERMALINK

No matter how close the results are, people still have a way of treating a win as a win. If Candidate A gets 37.62% of the Iowa delegates, and Candidate B gets 37.59%, then no matter how much noise Candidate B makes, declaring it a virtual tie, people will still see Candidate A as the winner.

That's just how people think.

And contrary to what people have said elsewhere, I don't buy the notion that most people can be sold on the notion that the winner of the entrance poll is the real winner in Iowa.

After all, how many people believe Kerry had the 2004 election stolen from him? The exit polls showed him winning.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on January 2, 2008 at 5:52 AM | PERMALINK

For what it is worth, the people waging money on this seem unimpressed by any scenario other than Hillary winning both the nomination and the election in November.

http://www.intrade.com/

Hillary should just hope to get through Iowa fairly close to Obama and then write it off as a chickenshit, unrepresentative State.

Posted by: bob h on January 2, 2008 at 7:19 AM | PERMALINK

I have just created a pictorial-based graph of Hillary Clinton's recent meteoric rise in wealth. Any Obama and Edwards supporters here might want to check it out and help spread the link

The link
http://thememlingindex.com/hillary_clinton_net_worth-wealth.html

Posted by: Onslow Memling on January 2, 2008 at 7:47 AM | PERMALINK

I don't have a link, but What I assume was a CNN poll on the Blitzer Show last night had over 40% of likely Dem voters saying that HRC was both "most likely to beat a Republican" and "the one right on the issues [or some such]," even though the same results had HRC, Obama and Edwarda all around 33% of voter support [O and E were around 20% on the likely to win and better qualified]. My question (which unbelievably went unaddressed during the "analysis" of these data) is what're the 10+% of the people thinking that believe that a candidate other than the one for whom they plan to vote is both better qualified and more likely to win?

Posted by: jhm on January 2, 2008 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

Has anyone ask the candidates about Bush's unbid contracts? What are Dems going to do about that?

I see Eli Lilly seems to have gotten kickbacks from the oil-for-food program.

A UK government probe into whether GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly & Co bribed the Saddam Hussein administration in Iraq may expand to other companies, the Serious Fraud Office said.

The three drugmakers said they would hand over documents related to the investigation to the United Nations-run Oil-for-Food program.

The UK inquiry, announced in February, follows a 2005 finding by former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker which said more than 2,200 companies paid $1.8 billion in bribes to win Iraqi contracts.

Being from the UK - I guess Bush and our bi-partisan congress (who let no campaign contributor be investigated, for witetapping, kickbacks or otherwise) can't stop the investigation.

Posted by: me-again on January 2, 2008 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

The "running as a Republican" slam on Obama is laughable.

Let's see:

He regularly touts the fact that he was opposed to the Iraq war and wants to remove all but a few thousand troops.

He is openly recommending we dial down the saber-rattling with Iran and engage in face-to-face talks with their highest-up leaders (and Syria) without preconditions.

He has arguably the most radical energy plan, at least as radical as Edwards', and has repeatedly called for a "Manhattan-project-like" effort on clean energy.

He's the most aggressive of any mainstream candidate in memory on non-proliferation issues, including a relatively novel international nuclear fuel bank, that would allow any country to have nuclear power w/o international fear of weapons development.

A central plank of his campaign is a pretty big investment in urban renewal programs.

He wants to pay teachers more money, pour more money into schools in poor districts, and use financial resources to work to improve inner city areas to create an environment were education can actually thrive.

He's made the creation of an enormous public health market that would make gov't run healthcare available to every american (and require healthcare for every American under 18) a central plank of his platform. BTW, that plan has a path to single payer, was authored and endorsed by some of the most respected healthcare experts on the political left, and comes from a candidate who has said both that should the plan not work w/o a mandate he's open to including it down the line, and said that the ultimate goal should be a single payer, but that the costs and difficulty of the logistics of going from employer-based to single payer in one step are too prohibitive.

What else?

Oh yeah, to the extent that he thinks we should change social security, he says we should do it by raising taxes on the wealthier portions of society by increasing the cap. He's also said he's open to a "donut hole" policy in which, say, 90K-150K of income are not included in Social Security taxes, but 150K-250K are.

His position on illegal immigration (penalty, back of the line, amnesty, stricter border patrol and fines on employers) is the same as the other major candidates and is right in line with mainstream liberalism.

What am I missing here that's at all "Republican"?
That's maybe the most absurd, out-of-touch criticism I can imagine.

jhm--

The propositions "Hillary is closest to me on the issues" and "Hillary is most likely to win" do not logically lead to the conclusions "Hillary will be most successful implementing her platform" nor "Hillary will do an effective job of governing the country"

It seems to me that, if you think in terms of policy that Hillary is an 8 and Obama a 7, but that in terms of ability to get that platform passed, Obama is an 8 and Hillary is a 4....then choosing Obama seems obvious.

Similary, if you think Hillary is an 8 in electability and Obama a 7, but Hillary is only a 3 or 4 in terms of ability to govern but Obama an 8 or 9...then Obama is the obvious choice.

Put another way: its very possible that there is simply a "threshold" for electability and policy preferences...so long as the candidate meets that threshold, the voter will move on to other issues in order to make his/her decision. Perhaps Hillary is most likely to win, but you think Obama and Edwards have a great shot and very likely to win anyway. And suppose you really love Hillary's platform but are also very pleased with Obama's and Edwards'.

Wouldn't it make sense to base your decision on plenty of other relevant factors, especially if you see large differences there when the prior two differences are small?

Posted by: Michael on January 2, 2008 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Edwards is less qualified to be President than was Dan Quayle.

Pure and utter nonsense.

Posted by: Vincent on January 2, 2008 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

I'm worried aout Steve's last point too. Kerry was selected as our candidate in '04 by winning a tiny plurality of thw Iowa caucuses, at which point the media proclaimed him the nominee and instructed everyone to bow down before this unstoppable juggernaut (which they mostly did, and sent checks too).

Posted by: ArkPanda on January 2, 2008 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

My question (which unbelievably went unaddressed during the "analysis" of these data) is what're the 10+% of the people thinking that believe that a candidate other than the one for whom they plan to vote is both better qualified and more likely to win?

They agree more with one of the other candidates on one or more ISSUES, even as they acknowledge the qualifications and electability of a rival candidate.

Posted by: Julia Grey on January 2, 2008 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Now it's time for another edition of the Cazart Conventional Wisdom Generator(TM):

Hillary wins by >3% = It's over.

Hillary wins by 3% = It's not over, but things stay verrrrrrry interesting through Super Tuesday.

Obama wins by definitely not over.

Edwards wins by >3% = Holy Crap! The Dems Have Gone Crazy!

Edwards wins by not over.

Edwards wins by >3% = Holy Crap! The Dems Have Gone Crazy!

Edwards wins by

Posted by: cazart on January 2, 2008 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Whoa. Those carrots made my post go crazy. But you get the idea.

Posted by: cazart on January 2, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

People need to be less wrapped up in any one candidate. The most important thing is to kick the Republicans out of power and keep them out.
Iowegians are far less important this year because of the early big-state primaries. The delegate count may be settled on Super Tuesday or it may not be finalized until May, '08. This caucus process is un-democratic and is only important because the media gasbags who spend all their time yakking about the horse race and trivializing issues hype it beyond its importance.

That said, I have real contempt for Nader because he spent most of his campaign in 2000 thrashing Gore. Some of the Green candidates even took money for Republicans who used them to split the Democratic vote. I generally vote third party, but Greens can go screw themselves.

Posted by: Mike on January 2, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK
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