Over at MyDD, Chris Bowers has the best early analysis of the ’08 presidential contest I’ve seen so far. He understands that Obama’s rise, by muddling Clinton’s front-runner status, ironically liberates HRC to run a campaign-by-attrition in which her money and broad base of support may mean she doesn’t have to win right away. He notes how important winning in Iowa is for Edwards. He suggests that beating expectations may be critical for Obama. And he rightly indicates that for the “rest of the field,” the token of their seriousness as candidates is whether they have a plausible chance to win or come close to winning anywhere in the early going (Vilsack’s target is Iowa; Richardson’s is Nevada; Dodd’s is New Hamphsire; Biden’s, apparently, is South Carolina).It’s obviously early, and lots could change. For one thing, threats by California and Florida to move up their primaries could alter the landscape crucially by tossing two expensive, delegate-rich states into a mix now dominated by small, inexpensive states. The rumbling in New Hampshire about moving up its primary to protect its ancient status could produce a nightmarish leapfrogging process (both Iowa and New Hampshire have state laws aimed at guaranteeing their one-two positions) that could start the whole show crazy early. And most obviously, what the candidates say and do, and that ol’ devil, external events, could trump everything.I don’t agree with Chris about the real possibility of a brokered convention. Just about everything about the nominating process makes that a science fiction proposition; remember that the last multi-ballot Democratic Convention was in 1952, when most delegates were still selected by home-state poohbahs and many delegations remained uncommitted until the convention.But lots of other unusual contingencies are entirely possible, including one that’s always right under the surface: an early running-mate deal between a top-tier and lower-tier candidate with strength in a particular state.In general, Chris’ handicapping is a lot better than most of the stuff being published in the MSM at this stage of the campaign.Incidentally, I don’t personally have any dog in the hunt at this point. If that changes, I’ll shut up about ’08.
TDS Strategy Memos
Latest Research from:
By Ed Kilgore
I’m certainly old enough to remember lots of these pre-election “agenda” documents, and couldn’t help but mock the latest one at New York:
In Thomas Pynchon’s 1965 cult novel The Crying of Lot 49, a character who has taken too much LSD decides that if everyone on earth repeats the marketing phrase “rich, chocolatey goodness,” it will represent the voice of God. With or without drugs, a lot of people in politics have a similar delusion that getting candidates to make the same noises like chirping cicadas will produce electoral victories. It’s a particularly strong belief among congressional Republicans, who share the dubious conviction that Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America” is what flipped control of Congress in 1994.
With the assistance of Gingrich and former Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, the House Republican Conference has released a new “agenda” document, entitled “Commitment to America.” The document, clearly designed for online consumption, has lots of bells and whistles and factoids about the hellish reign of Joe Biden and his “Democrat” Party. What it doesn’t have is a whole lot of specificity, unlike the unfortunate “agenda” that Republican Senate Campaign Committee chairman Rick Scott released earlier this year to the near-universal horror of his colleagues, who don’t want to be identified with the proposed sunsetting of Social Security and Medicare.
The relatively anodyne character of Kevin McCarthy’s pet project doesn’t mean it is entirely useless. Candidates mouthing the approved pieties will presumably not be expressing their pithy views on Jewish space lasers or repeating QAnon slogans.
Still, it’s hard to take seriously an agenda for the nation that does not mention climate change, Russia, or extremist threats to democracy — or one that suggests the sole cure for inflation is to cut “wasteful government spending” without explaining what that means (in the indictment of Democrats that accompanies the agenda, there is much criticism of direct stimulus payments, which Donald Trump preferred to virtually every other form of government spending).
Most interesting was how House Republicans handled a red-hot issue they dare not ignore completely, given the obsession it commands among a very big chunk of the GOP party base: abortion. You have to look pretty hard to find it, nestled as it is under the unlikely heading of “A Government That’s Accountable,” and the downright misleading subheading of “a plan to defend America’s rights under the Constitution.” And it simply says Republicans will “protect the lives of unborn children and their mothers.” So they checked off a box for anti-abortion activists in the manner least likely to draw curious or unfriendly attention to the extreme abortion views so many of them have expressed, which don’t poll well. Perhaps voters will be too mesmerized by the overall party message to notice. Repeat after me: rich, chocolatey goodness.