Saturday, January 19, 2008

The House Wins

Confounding even the modest amount of conventional wisdom, a huge caucus turnout in Nevada--more than 100.000-- went for Hillary by about 5 points. She remained very strong with women and apparently polled better among Latinos. However, the actual delegates--as in New Hampshire--were about even between Hillary and Obama [update: Obama actually got one more delegate in Nevada ]. Hillary had been up by around 25 points for a long while, but the Culinary Union endorsement of Obama was seen to give him the edge in recent weeks.

There's a disquieting account of strong-arm tactics by Hillary's people, and Bill's personal politiking in a caucus room as voters gathered--either a rules violation or very close to it. Along with the Billary politics of distortion and fear, and a last minute Barack Hussein Obama robocall. It seems the Clinton machine learned from Iowa that a caucus can be managed, or bullied. But Hillary's strength among Latinos is itself worrisome (although it's probably more accurate to say Billary's), as is--further along the line--this evidence of a severe black/white racial divide over Obama in the deep South. (In Nevada, Obama got about half the white vote, and 80% of the black vote.)

John Edwards did poorly--due in part to the 15% viability rule, he got about 5% total.

And some of these numbers may yet turn out to be bullshit--the official figures don't reflect the actual popular vote, and I'm not sure what the entrance poll percentages mean, except they are more likely to reflect what people said going in. Who knows what this means? But overall, this is going to look like a Hillary victory, and the sense of her inevitability again will affect future elections. Obama may have to pull off a big win in South Carolina to offset it a bit, and that's now going to be harder. The courage that people need to accept the possibility of transformative change I believe was sorely wounded by not only Obama's loss in New Hampshire, but his loss in the face of universal expectations of a big win. Now the Billary politics of ugliness is chipping away, inciting people to vote from their fears. Actually, my vote for Obama is a vote not only of my hopes but from my fears--that this election is the last chance I'm going to see for positive transformative change.

The last few weeks have made one thing clear: Bill Clinton ain't going to be no roving ambassador in a Hillary administration. And it's not going to be a vice president running things from behind the scenes this time. Jonathan Alter in Newsweek writes of Ted Kennedy and others complaining to Bill Clinton about his attacks on Obama. The article also quotes Greg Craig, who coordinated Clinton's impeachment defense in 1998 and is now a senior Obama adviser, argues that "recent events raise the question: if Hillary's campaign can't control Bill, whether Hillary's White House could." People seem to know and a lot of people see to want a Billary presidency. This kind of takes the bloom off the first woman thing.

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