FR: For the next 45 days, until the caucuses take place there, the Democratic presidential race will be all about Iowa. ...[snip] ... One of two things will happen in Iowa on January 3: Either Clinton wins, and she steamrolls through the primaries on the way to the nomination. Or she doesn't, and the candidate with a majority of the advantages -- in polls, in endorsements, and with the most famous last name in the Democratic Party -- looks vulnerable and it becomes a two-person fight to the finish with the candidate who wins
kf: There is an obvious third thing that could easily happen before the 45 days are up. In, say, 25 days, with Hillary behind by 10 points and not gaining ground, she starts deemphasizing the state--pulling out staff, campaigning elsewhere, effectively conceding Iowa and choosing to make her stand in other states. Humiliating, but not as humiliating as trying and losing--and Hillary is a cautious type. She also doesn't seem like a late surger. Her aides will convince her she doesn't need Iowa to win--focusing on Iowa in the first place was just an attempt to land a knockout punch. The punch having missed, she'll settle in for the full 15 rounds. ... She could even make some mischief by having some of her Iowa troops vote for the anti-Hillary candidate she wants to keep alive (who looks like Edwards at the moment but may look like Obama by January)..
FR: [A]fter Obama's less-than-stellar debate performance late last week, one can sense another one of those momentum switches. His campaign screamed to the top of its lungs after Bob Novak reported that the Clinton campaign was sitting on allegedly scandalous material on Obama. ... [snip] ... About the only good news for Obama this weekend is that the spat over the Novak story did appear to change the subject from the debate.
kf: Huh? Did the Novak story, and Obama's instant reaction, really make Obama look bad? I thought it made HIllary's campaign look bad. And it means that if any dirt on Obama does come out, it will look like Hillary was the source--hurting her as well as him in goody-goody Iowa. (Remember when Dukakis had to fire his campaign manager after the latter was outed as the source of a perfectly legitimate hit on Joe Biden?) The promise of blowback makes it much less likely that the dirt, if any, will be dropped.** Obama was daring and shrewd to draw attention to Novak, no?
**--Though if Edwards has dirt on Obama, he might be able to drop it and have Hillary take the blame--a twofer. My guess, though, is that Edwards is in no position to start a scandal war.
12:12 A.M. link
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Scandal MAD?Here's one way to look at Saturday's surprising campaign back-and-forth over undisclosed scandalous dark matter--all started by Robert Novak's column claiming that Hillary "agents"** were "spreading the word" that she had "scandalous information" about Obama.
Until the Novak column, all the leading Dem candidates had semi-public potential scandal hanging over them--except Obama. Edwards had the Enquirer cheating story. Hillary had all the stories about her marriage and "Bill Clinton’s postpresidential sex life" referred to by an Obama aide in Marc Ambinder's recent Atlantic piece. Richardson ... well, rumors about Richardson were so rampant he felt compelled to defend against them before they actually surfaced. (He said, "I believe in the physical side of campaigning.")
Now Obama is on notice that if he plays the Clinton marriage card, a scandal bomb might drop on him too--assuming there is a bomb to drop. It doesn't matter so much if Hillary actually has some goods on Obama as long as Obama thinks Hillary has some goods on him.
But here's a thought experiment: Suppose there are some goods to be had. And suppose that all the candidates know all the other candidate's scandals and have the capability to launch them in the press. Has Hillary achieved Mutually Assured Destruction, scandal-wise? I doubt it.
Remember that it's a three-way race. According to the current polls, Hillary's precarious position in Iowa requires that both Obama and Edwards remain strong opponents, splitting the anti-Clinton vote. Like an inexperienced karate initiate, she can take on all comers only if they attack in a precisely symmetrical formation.
But if Scandal Doomsday happens, and all the evil that lurks in the mud hatches out, the results will not be symmetrical. Suppose that what Jezebel.com speculated about Obama is true. Would it sink him? I doubt it. The Bill and Hillary rumors you hear are also wildly unshocking, given their history--though they would have the multiplier effect of reminding people of that history.
But the Edwards allegation, if confirmed, would be devastating. Edwards has made his good character in the face of his wife's illness a central part of his campaign pitch.
If the Enquirer story pans out, you'd think he'd sink fast. Which would be terrible news for Hillary.
But if Obama and Hillary are hit with scandals and the Edwards story doesn't come out, that makes Edwards the big winner in the exchange. Which is also terrible for Hillary.
I think Sid may have his work cut out for him!
**--not "operatives"! A little Plame joke. 9:33 A.M. link
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Viva Triangulation, II: Alert reader D.J. emails to note a major virtue of "triangulation" I omitted: