Change, change, change. That's the word adorning all the Obama campaign posters, and the charge heading out of the Hawkeye State (though political balance" is the frame). Congratulations to Mr. Change & Balance himself, Senator Barack Obama (at left, from obama.senate.gov), who won the delegate count in the Iowa Democratic caucuses by an 8 point spread, 38% to second-place winner former Senator John Edwards's 30%. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton finished third, at about 29%. Together they and the other Democrats drew over 220,000 participants, almost double the 2004 turnout of 125,00, and more than double the Republicans' total this year. Many of the Democratic caucus-goers were first-timers, and Obama's supporters comprised younger voters (57%), a huge number of independents and even some cross-over Republicans. He also led among female (35%) and male caucus-goers. Both Joe Biden and Chris Dodd barely registered, and both have dropped out of the race. Dodd, though he barely drew much attention, had shown considerable political courage in recent months. As for Clinton, I imagine she's going to soldier, but tonight's poor showing cannot help her, either with potential primary voters or the generally hostile mainstream media, going into New Hampshire. Obama's victory speech tonight (around 11:15 pm) actually managed to do what people like George Lakoff and Drew Westen have been urging of all the Democrats, which was to eschew the usual Democratic laundry list. Instead, he sketched a narrative of hope and change, in soaring rhetoric that thrilled his vast audience. It was typically vague and yet quite energizing, like him.
Overall, a great night for the Democrats, and for populist, (semi-)progressive rhetoric.
The Republicans handily selected the Baptist preacher from Hope, Arkansas, Mike Huckabee (at right, from siu.edu) but then 60% of the Republican caucus-goers were self-described "evangelicals." Huckabee received 34% of the vote, well head of his main competitor, the plasticene former Massachusetts governor and multimillionaire Mitt Romney who finished second at 25%. Ardent racist Pat Buchanan seems pretty happy about Huckabee's win ("consanguinity," you know), though the Republican hierarchy seems ready to explode. (C and I switched over to the Fox News Channel, which was like watching a cross between the Twilight Zone and the Addams Family, without the humor, and Juan Williams was blathering on about how Obama couldn't win the general election. I was waiting for him to start uncontrollaby barking "Muslim," but we switched the channel before he could get going.) Decrepit actor Fred Thompson edged media favorite John McCain, whom the talking heads are still telling us is
"in great shape"--the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson just blurted this out, almost as if he didn't know what he was saying--because he's already won New Hampshire (?), or is ahead there, or doing well, there, or something. (?) (I was sort of amazed that Thompson did this well; I know he appears on TV and so on, but still, he telescopes his lack of interest in the campaign.) Libertarian Ron Paul finished fifth, well ahead of Rudy Giuliani, whom I hope is out of the race by the end of the month. Huckabee is the Republican id in material form, so it's fitting that the Iowa caucus-goers ended the longstanding charade, and selected one of their own.
(Can someone PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get the old tired rich conventional Washington-wisdom spewing gasbag punditocracy--the Chris Matthewses ("he [Obama] was delivered to us, from Indonesia..." and "he's almost Third World"--???), the Wolf Blitzers (Huckabee's win "helps McCain"), the Andrea Mitchellses (Clinton's gathering was "dirgelike"-?), all of them--off the air and bring in some new commentators? (Okay, Rachel Maddow was decent and actually challenged Matthews.) And it would especially great if the new commentators were unafraid of shouting down the gasbags--with compelling arguments, that is.)