Get-up-and-get-a-beer line of the day: According to the NY Post, Newt Gingrich "doesn't think Obama can win."
"If the country wants therapy, they're going to elect Obama," he said.
You mean the country doesn't want therapy? 6:09 P.M.
OK, New Orleans. You're on your own. It looks like NBC Nightly News' obsessive Katrina coverage hasn't been paying off in the ratings. ... 4:28 P.M.
"Democrats Will Do For America What the UAW Has Done for Chrysler, GM and Ford": Here's a legislative triumph Pelosi's party doesn't want to publicize too much. Do Democrats really want to campaign in 2008 on eliminating the secret ballot in union elections? Luckily, they'll probably be saved by Mitch McConnell. ... P.S.: Only 7% of private sector workers are now unionized. Is that a) because of all that employer foul play (what Dems tell each other inside the cocoon) or b) because the ponderous legalistic and adversarial structure of the Wagner Act--advancement by seniority, due process, work rules, labor-management negotiation--is especially unsuited to competing in a tumultuous, innovating economy that prizes flexibility and adaptability over predictability and job security? .... 3:36 P.M. link
Iowa, Now More Than Ever: "Emailer X" sends a majestically symmetrical analysis with a grim corn-fed conclusion. [Boldface added]:
There are a couple of anomalies regarding 2008. First, it's the first genuinely open seat race in a very long time. There is no incumbent president or designated incumbent (Nixon, HHH, GFord, GHWB, Gore) running for either party's nomination. Thus the networks (which always overspend their primary coverage budgets in single party presidential nomination fights) are going to be financially strapped to cover two party presidential nomination fights at the same time.
Media coverage is the oxygen of politics; candidates who get media coverage can continue to raise money and candidates who don't get coverage can't. ... [snip]
Because the news divisions are less and less profitable (and "news gathering" is increasingly expensive), the bias of the television media in 2008 will be to shut off as much oxygen to as many candidates as possible as soon as possible. To save money. Which is one reason we have the current coverage configuration, which implicitly states that (1) Clinton and Obama are the front-runners on the Democratic side, with Edwards as the wild-card position player (in Iowa) and (2) McCain and Giuliani are the front-runners on the Republican side, with Romney as the wild-card position player (he's presumed to have a "base" in NH because of its proximity to MA, and he's raised a ton of dough). Everyone else gets the multi-candidate forum coverage package and that's it. If they want day-to-day coverage, they can go generate local coverage. They're not in the national coverage budget.
Given this configuration, the name of the game for the front-runners is "shut off all the oxygen to everyone else early." Which, translated, means: win Iowa and New Hampshire, and the game is over.
It seems to me that the only person who truly understands this is John Edwards. The others act like Iowa is a bother and that New Hampshire, while important, is not nearly as important as it used to be. California may move to early March! It's all about the Super Tuesdays! But here's the thing: If McCain or Clinton come into a Super Tuesday having lost Iowa and New Hampshire, then they're basically cooked. They've lost the "I & E;" inevitability and electability. And neither party's base much likes them anyway. It hardly follows that they will like them more after they've run losing campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire.
I don't have the schedules handy, but I think Hillary has been to Iowa twice in the last four years. That's just stupid. I don't think Obama has traveled to Iowa and New Hampshire more than 3 times each. That's dumb. McCain (whom Iowa GOPers still distrust because he blew them off in 2000) hasn't spent much time in Iowa, nor has Giuliani. That's dumb. Romney seems to think that Michigan is every bit as important as Iowa. That's dumb. Only Edwards has basically moved to Iowa and declared a second residence in New Hampshire.
As you know, the entire media infrastructure basically moves to Des Moines for the last 10 days of the Iowa caucuses (which are usually on a Monday night). This year, they'll send a B-team to cover the Las Vegas primary, but that will be a drive-by deal. The machine will move to Manchester New Hampshire and megaphone from there. After that, it's off to South Carolina for that Saturday primary. Then it's imperative that one nomination fight be declared over and that the other be brought to a quick conclusion.
The other anomaly is that neither party's base (really) has a candidate. Hillary has the Clinton wing of the party, but the influence of the Clintons has diminished with the rise of Internet-based fund-raising on the left. The Netroots can match any money machine dollar for dollar. And unlike the Fat Cat Network, the Netroots bring hundreds of thousands of voters to the table as well. But the Netroots don't have a candidate (their candidate is Gore, but he's not running, apparently). Likewise on the GOP side, the base's candidate (Jeb Bush) is not running.
Because Republicans are concerned about losing both control of the legislative branch (2006) and the executive (2008?), the base has decided to be pragmatic. Find me a winner and we'll back him. Because Democrats need to retain control of the legislative branch and believe that they have their best shot since 1992 at picking up the executive, the Netroots are being as pragmatic as the GOP base. So the "aura" if inevitability and electability keeps everyone in their places. Lose that aura and you're done. The front-runners (all of them) can lose that aura completely in Iowa and New Hampshire. And if they do, there's nothing to fall back on, the base will cut them loose in a heartbeat.
This is why the Geffen thing was so injurious to Clinton's campaign. It fractured the aura a bit (confirmed by the Clinton campaign's over-wrought response). ...
It's a weird thing to watch all this unfold. And a weird thing to find yourself viewing John Edwards as the only one who gets the game.
Reaction: OK, there are two big trends here--1) The addition of more early primary states (Nevada, maybe California) and 2) the Decline of the MSM (and their budgets). "X" argues both have 100% perverse consequences: 1) Iowa and New Hampshire are now more crucial than ever and 2) the MSM news budget will completely drive the campaign, starving laggards of oxygen to force a swift conclusion. ... I can see Perverse Consequence #1--if Iowa and New Hampshire were in January but all the other states moved their primaries back to May, then (as X emails) "You could actually skip IA and NH and still win the nomination!" But I don't see Perverse Consequence #2--how does the decline of the MSM, and the rise of New Media, mean that the MSM's "coverage budget" drives the campaign more than ever, starving those candidates it ignores of oxygen? Surely it should be easier now for a non-frontrunning candidate denied MSM "oxygen"--Richardson, say--to get some "oxygen" outside the MSM (through a vigorous Web campaign that raises money for paid media, or a reverse-macaca YouTube moment) in a way that attracts voters in one of the primaries and gets the candidate back on the MSM's menu? ... 3:16 P.M. link
Is the "conversation" on Hillary's website as sanitized, repressed and otherwise controlled as ....well, as you'd expect Hillary's website to be? This blogger claims his non-vituperative critical comment about energy policy was censored. He's a "neophyte" blogger, which raises suspicions that he's a plant from some other campaign--but if he is he does a good job of faking the geniuine bloggers' solipsistic drone. You make the call. ... 1:26 P.M. link
Bob Wright tells me what I want to hear about my biological clock. ... 12:57 P.M.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007