07 January 2008

so about that iowa caucus

i was not surprised. or rather, i was not at all surprised about the republican result or about the winner on the democratic side, and in retrospect i should not have been surprised that edwards edged out clinton for second.

this is why it's kind of scary, in our alarmingly path-dependent primary system, to let midwesterners lead off. hillary clinton, possibly an entirely viable candidate in lots of other places, lost out here because people hate her without any clear sense of why. maybe more pertinently: mike "BMI report cards 'cause shame worked so well for me" huckabee is a former baptist preacher who supports a national sales tax. i mean, every republican candidate is scary in his, emphatically his, own way but huckabee is the one whose total disregard for book learnin' of every kind is most evident at this point.

God save us from the new republican populism.

on the other hand, although i think this would be a despicable reason to be happy about huckabee's win, he seems less electable nationally than many of the other republican contenders. all of them have their fatal flaws, from the guy who failed before (mccain) to the fake right-winger (romney; never gonna get the evangelicals) to the untrustworthy, multiply-married city guy (giuliani; see romney, only more so) to the self-professed hick whose main goal seems to be to destroy the economy (huckabee; never gonna get anyone *but* the evangelicals). is there anyone who could rally republicans in a unifying way, rather than tromping down the path toward schism?

(i sort of hope not. they could do with a good schism.)

on the democratic side, i've heard some serious craziness from obama supporters in recent days, including obama supporters i like and respect very much. the craziest-of-all award is a tie, split between "i don't trust john edwards because he's changed his public positioning now that he's no longer a senator from a conservative southern state" and "nothing can really change anyway, so it doesn't matter that obama's health care plan is broken." i've also heard a significant amount of "hillary"-bashing from people who should really know better. i keep daring people to do the thought experiment wherein they try to figure out whether they would dislike her just as much if she were a male; nobody enjoys taking me up on it. i suppose the bottom line is that i wish people were looking at policy rather than at the way particular candidates make them "feel" -- policy's a great reason not to support clinton, whereas the fact that you find her grating and overambitious absolutely is not.

but there's a bigger point. i was talking with north the other day, and we realized that we'd both be happier to vote for any of the three current democratic front-runners than either kerry or the gore that ran in 2000.