Tuesday, January 15th, 2008
My Dear America:
It seems as though the dust has finally begun to settle in the Granite State of New Hampshire, the site of 2008's First actual Primary Election in this important Election Year. New Hampshire was an even more interesting contest than the Iowa Caucus.
The Iowa Caucus was interesting enough in that two dark horse candidates that no one had expected to win won rather handily in both the Democratic and the Republican Parties. Former Arkansas Governor, Mike "Who" Huckabee, had come out of nowhere to beat the pants off of all the Money and Media Hogs who up until the reality of the Iowa Caucus set in had been annointed by the media as "The Front Runners" in the Republican Party. After the Iowa Caucus, though, the Front Runners were no longer the Front Runners and everybody knew who Mike Huckabee was.
There was a very short period of time between the Iowa Caucus and The New Hampshire Primary. The Iowa Caucus was on Thursday, January 3rd and the New Hampshire Primary was on Tuesday, January 8th. This did not leave much time for the New Front Runners to use their newfound status to campaign advantage in New Hampshire.
On Saturday, January 5th, there was a debate scheduled at St. Anselm's College in New Hampshire that was sponsored by ABC and featured ABC News Anchor, Charlie Gibson, as the Debate Moderator. What was different about this debate was that it was an all nighter featuring First The Republicans and then The Democrats on the same stage. Charlie Gibson had enough clout and moxie to even force the Republicans and Democrats to greet each other civilly, some shaking hands and some even hugging, while the Democrats were coming on the stage after the Republican Debate. It was a nice touch and it gave Charlie Gibson an opening to not only talk about bipartisanship but also to actually force it to be practiced on the stage of the debate that he was moderating.
There was not a lot of new information revealed in the debates. Rudy Giuliani said "9-11" about 200 times, basically every time he opened his mouth. Mitt Romney lied about as many times as Rudy said 9-11 but this time there was a definite negative vibe toward Romney by his Republican Debate Colleagues. Clearly Mitt was in need of serious medical and political rehabilitation by the end of the evening as his stagemates played "Hammer the Huckster" with Mitt and his constantly changing positions on everything no longer getting a free pass by John McClain, Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee. Clearly these guys had had it with Romney's annoying BS and they let him have it full force. Although it seems to be hard to knock that "Joker"smile off Romney's face it seemed to me that the The Republican Candidates Boys Club came as close to doing it that night as they probably ever will.
When the Democrats turn came it seemed as though the game had changed from "Hammer the Huckster" to "Bash the Bitch". Certainly John Edwards and Barack Obama played it. Bill Richardson, who hadn't seemed too comfortable with greeting the Republicans also did not seem to be comfortable with playing the chosen Democratic Game for the evening and just as he seemed to avoid contact with Republicans departing from the stage Bill avoided bashing Hillary. Certainly Hillary did not seem to have a very good night on stage at St. Anselms. She was asked the terribly embarassing question about her lack of likeability compared to Obama to which she stated, probably only half in jest, that the question "hurts my feelings". John Edwards mainly along with Barack Obama worked her over pretty well that Saturday night but you had to give Hillary credit for taking her punishment as well as any man could have and not crying. By Monday night, January 8th, things had gotten about as bad as they could for Hillary. Polls showed that minute by minute and hour by hour what had appeared to be Hillary's comfortable lead in the previous New Hampshire polls had disappeared just as Barack's lead in those same polls seemed to be taking off like a rocket building to what looked like a sure fire win for Obama on Tuesday, Primary Election Day.
While Obama wasn't claiming victory on Monday night he seemed to be looking pretty relaxed and confident. On the other hand Hillary seemed to be stunned by what was happening and at one of her campaign stops her voice quivered and it looked as though she might start crying. She never did cry, at least in public, but the press acted as if she had been bawling like a baby and ran the story of her "breakdown" over and over especially on CNN and, of course on Fox News. Reporters then started asking the other candidates and each if they thought this was an "Ed Muskie Moment". Muskie was a long gone Democrat who had seen his hopes of being a Presidential contender go up in smoke when he got emotional after an editorial writer criticized Muskie's wife during his New Hampshire Primary. As if things weren't bad enough Bill Clinton really did seem to be having an Ed Muskie Moment and was angrilly shooting his mouth off to any reporter or media group or crowd that would listen to him. Although he looked kind of like a jerk you also had to admire Bill's courage in this difficult moment to let his true love for his wife show through. He may have been a cheating bastard but obviously his love for his wife was not a show. Bill was clearly hurting because his wife was hurting. Then came the moment that I'm sure Hillary was angry about when Bill Clinton started talking about the litany of Barack's Obama's lies about Hillary. It was truly a pot calling the kettle black moment.
On Election Day in New Hampshire it was hard to get those talking heads out of your own head that you had seen the night before commenting on, gloating over, focused on the polls which had shown Barack Obama giving Hillary Clinton her second trouncing in less than a week.
But something happened in New Hampshire that nobody expected, America. The polls taken the day before Primary Election Day were wrong about the Democratic winner of this Primary Election. When the votes were all counted a miracle had happened. The winner who had been annointed by the press didn't win after all. The polls were wrong. Hillary Clinton finally emerged the winner in a tight race on the Democratic side. The pollsters were stunned. John McCain, a Republican maverick who had been left for dead on the campaign trail by the press months ago had also won the Republican Primary. The talking heads were now all talking about how they had missed this one. "How the hell did this happen" they wanted to know. But none of them know the answer to that question. To be sure Hillary didn't win by much but a win is still a win. Although John Edwards came in a rather distant third you might have thought that he had won listening to what should have been a concession speech by Edwards. In fact John Edward's speech wasn't much different than that given by both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. If you didn't know better you might have thought that Clinton, Edwards and Obama had all won the New Hampshire Primary. As the campaigns rolled out of New Hampshire and on to Michigan and Nevada Bill Richardson made it official. He was leaving the campaign trail and going home to New Mexico where life was warmer and more predictable than New Hampshire. Other news has come out this past week. McCain and Romney are neck and neck in Michigan. Hillary is unopposed in that state. In Nevada the very influential Culinary Workers Union has endorsed Obama. Stranger still is the endorsement of Obama by past Democratic Presidential Candidate, John Kerry.
Tonight those next two contests will have answers or will they. I hope so. I would suggest to both the Democrats and Republicans that rather than investing in the shaky science of polling that they would probably be better off hiring official Democratic and Republican Party Mediums. Then at least you are dealing with a more exact science.