Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Beginning at the Beginning

Paul Tsongas, Gary Hart, Edmund Muskie are all former Democratic presidential candidates. Like John McCain and Pat Buchanan on the Republican side, they all won the New Hampshire primary. Yes, it’s important, but it’s not the end of the nomination process. The press has been trying to make a story out of Hillary Clinton’s crying incident by comparing it to Edmund Muskie in 1972. Back then the largest media outlet in New Hampshire was the Manchester Union Leader which was run by a sometimes outrageous and very conservative editor, William Loeb. Loeb printed some allegations about Muskie’s wife and the candidate was seen crying in public. Supposedly, that was the beginning of the end for Muskie’s candidacy because he seemed too “soft”. Somehow no one mentions that Muskie actually won the primary. Oddly, it’s since come to light that Muskie was targeted by Nixon’s dirty tricks campaign. One of the items that led to Muskie’s crying was an alleged letter in which the Senator from Maine was made to appear to use the word “Canucks” to refer to French-Canadians who were well-represented in states like New Hampshire. It’s an interesting combination – dirty tricks, media with an agenda, and artificially-raised expectations for a candidate fed by that same media.

The story is that Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is now supposedly in trouble because she didn’t do well in Iowa, a place where I wouldn’t expect her to do all that well, and that she’s probably not going to win New Hampshire, another place where her appeal might be limited. For a day, I read reports of the crying incident that ping-ponged between “Good God, do we want a President who might have PMS” and “Did she do this on purpose?” First, we’ve had a President who’s somewhere between divorced from reality and incompetent. Being momentarily emotional seems like an awfully small thing compared to that. After endless manipulation of photo opportunities, town hall meetings, and press conferences by the current administration, if she did plan it (I doubt it) shouldn’t we be saying how Presidential that makes her? My take is simple. Have we all gotten this stupid?

I think one of the great things about the modern era is that it’s so easy to get a direct look at the candidates. The days of William Loeb magnifying his role in the Presidential nomination process should be over. It’s now possible to see debates, speeches, and read position papers pretty much at your leisure. That is, unless you happen to be Ron Paul and the Fox Network refuses to invite you to be part of a televised debate. Where’s the FCC or the Federal Elections Commission on that one?

If you miss a debate or major speech live, they show it two or three more times on broadcast tv and if you miss that it’s available either through youtube or you can get the transcript from some other source.

The biggest shame of the modern political era is that we still rely so heavily on “bumper sticker” versions of our candidates. John Edwards is much more than a guy who got a haircut who has an outspoken wife. Barack isn’t just a racial symbol for the future who talks about hope. Hillary Clinton has a long history in public life and there are hundreds of hours of footage of her over some thirty years that you can look up and make up your own mind about her laughing, crying, talking, etc. If you vote based on those “bumper sticker” reductions, you’re an idiot.

They moved the California primary from June to February 5 this time so that voters in the country’s largest state, as in you can win ten New Hampshires and still not get as many electoral votes as winning one California, have some actual say in the matter. I’m looking forward to having an opportunity to choose between all the candidates on their own merits as future leaders. I’m not going to have the media tell me that New Hampshire and Iowa decided it for me yet again.

It’s encouraging that so many people are voting in the Democratic primaries. This may be one time when the nomination isn’t determined by party regulars. I do think one of the most interesting, though not always valid, tests of a candidate’s ability to handle pressure come in the ability to make it through the primary season. It’s good for everyone to let the thing go a few innings before we make any judgments. I’d happily vote for any of the remaining Democratic candidates in November. I can’t remember an election where I felt that way. So here I am thinking about something just beginning and there are all these other people blathering about “How the process or some candidate is finished”. One thing I love about sports is that you play all the innings or you keep playing until the final whistle. Primary season shouldn’t be like sex where they try to declare it over before it even gets going. Last time I checked, “primary” meant the first step not the last.

Call me crazy, but I happen to think there is some happy medium between a bunch of people in these caucus sites in Iowa and a bunch of insiders in a back room of the party convention choosing our candidate. Yes, I know other people have said all this five thousand times before, but we still have some say in all this. It drives me nuts that so many people are so anxious to say that we won’t.



At 1/08/2008 01:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Was there really a furor over Hillary's crying?

By the way, that is the BEST picture I've seen of Hillary, anywhere. Where'd you get it from?

At 1/08/2008 02:17:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Yes, it was topic A on the news yesterday.
The photo is her official portrait (no copyright) for the senate.

At 1/08/2008 10:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I spent 8 hours & 15 minutes phoning for Hillary in New Hampshire today Tuesday 01.08.08. I did it because she's by far the best candidate of my life time. I wish I weren't so exhausted so I could tell you more detail, but I think it's wonderful that both Obama won and now Hillary won freeing at least the dear Democratic Party for black people and for women to fully participate with verve -- now without having to worry about those categories anymore. We did that. We Democrats did that. It is so much of History in a week, who could fathom it.

About a 1000 phone calls into Iowa & New Hampshire recently & I will always hear those voices in my ear, especially of the women, the undervalued in every race, nation, and creed. I wept so hard when Hillary won -- all those years of being paid less and on & on welling up.

*I* did cry in my own house. Just to be clear. Hillary did not 'cry.' She welled-up for a moment, but bawling is what I did tonight. In relief. In hope. For a fairer world one day. Where women don't have to walk around in tents. But then we were only considered five-fifths human enough to vote in the year my own mother was born.

At 1/10/2008 04:38:00 PM, Blogger None said...

"Hillary did not cry."
Thats the biggest part that I dont get. No tears. All the headlines were shouting so much I expected her to be curled up in a ball, wailing away.

I dont share Pogblog's enthusiasm for her. Though, I do envy his dialing prowess. I'm just not sure how different she is from Edwards and Obama. This isnt to say the top 3 are not wonderful choices. Just the opposite really.

That ping-pong you speak of was interesting. Then it all grew very tired. It seemed many of the people asking such questions where not dems. or even independents for that matter. And, well.. we know what conservatives think of her already.

Clinton is either not man enough or not woman enough. Either way she will always come up short in some books. One day she is too impersonal to be president.. the next she is to emotional.

I do like the February 5th voting date. It was a bit frusterating to hear New Hampshire talk about how they pick the presidential frontrunners. It just smacked of NE elitism.

If only we could throw in a recall election that day would be perfect.

One interesting fallout from Tues. has been the absolute confusion in the Republican party. It seems they could default to any number of candidates. While the Dems seem headed for a Obama / Clinton showdown. Either candidate I would be more than happy with.

At 1/10/2008 05:05:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Nice analysis. Pogblog is actually female in her non-blogging incarnations.

It's looking worse for John Edwards, but I'm not convinced that he's out of it. I think the news over the next couple months could be critical. A big downturn in the war and really bad economic news might change things for his campaign very suddenly.

The Republican candidates frighten me, each in a different way, but it was sort of summed up for me by that one bit on the youtube debate where the guy asked them how many guns they owned themselves. All of them either apologized for not owning one or went into a gleeful description of their personal firearms.

At 1/11/2008 04:03:00 PM, Blogger None said...

ooops.. sorry about that.. Sometimes the foot jumps in the mouth extra fast.

btw.. Mitt Romney teared up? I'm sure all the commentators are going crazy for this one. You know.. he may be have PMS. Which, contrary to what some may think, would solidify his Presidential appearance. I'm not completely kidding about that one either. Women are more independent today than in the past. They have more education and more money. Lets face it.. while boys are pushed into playing sports.. Women have left the kitchen and hit the books. Pelosi and Clinton could be the first in a long wave of gender change.

At 1/11/2008 04:50:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

no apology needed. I should probably apologize since I'm the one always calling Pogblog "Mr. Pogblog".

Apparently women generally outnumber men at most elite universities these days, so yeah Hillary isn't going to be the last woman running for president.

At 1/12/2008 02:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least they haven't called Hillary 'clean.'

This very night I saw the venerable Bill Moyers mention earnestly to a woman guest that he wasn't sure that the welling-up moment was genuine. She, as I, was dumbfounded & aghast. She couldn't believe that she would actually have to explain it to him. Yes, Bill, it was real.

I thought only the cretins would possibly have such thoughts or such an inability to observe. It made me realize how much of the Idiot Mountain there still is left to push the Damn Rock up. It makes me realize how even stronger Hillary is than I already knew in order to put up directly with this insane crap all day long.

Only a brainwashed imbecile doesn't know it was real. Poor Bill didn't realize, but his remark was even stupider than Trent Lott's Massively Stupid & Ugly remark about the dreadful Strom Thurmond, but in this case it was he who revealed himself to be a troglodyte of magnitude -- and he's one of the good guys. Groan . . .


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