I have already said that the Speech was historic and remarkable and marvelous (albeit ultimately unsatisfying).

But what about the politics? The Horse Race?

Remember: Obama is an insurgent candidate locked in a death match with the political equivalent of "Anton Chigurh," the relentless pursuer from No Country for Old Men. To win in the end, he has always needed to run a near-perfect race with no big mistakes. After performing flawlessly for months, coming mere inches away from realizing the impossible and closing out this race on March 4th, was this crisis Obama's fatal error?

Dr. Politics, Steffen Schmidt, commented here today:

"Rest assured that only political geeks like us heard or read the speech. At best voters got some fleeting report on local news that Obama gave a speech. The GOP is compiling short, grainy black and white mini-spots of Wright overlaid with an unflattering picture of Obama that floats in a scary way across the screen.

"The stuff Wright said may be justified for blacks but it is not acceptable to most whites, Jews, Asian Americans, and many Hispanics.

"I think the "O'Mentum" has been stopped dead in its tracks."


Obama has two major problems coming out of Philadelphia:

1. The Speech, while interesting and provocative, placed the comments of Reverend Wright at the center of the campaign. This is not insignificant. We (the conservative world) and ABC News have been talking non-stop about this revelation-slash-crisis since last Thursday, but this morning, in order to analyze the monumental address, NPR was forced to introduce the story to its listeners--as they had virtually ignored it until yesterday. The Newshour with Jim Lehrer was in a similar position--having ignored the story--save for the end-of-the-week political wrap-up with Shields and Brooks--Brooks having pronounced Obama's disastrous dissembling from last week "the perfect statement of dignity" and "a glimmer of hope" in a world otherwise gone terribly wrong. You just can't buy that kind of analysis. Even Tim Russert soft-pedaled the emerging crisis on Meet the Press Sunday, burying the discussion in the midst of other more important issues.

Last night and today, in order to cover the Speech, and demonstrate how transcendent the moment, tenets of basic journalism forced the mainstream media into explaining the context of the modern "Gettysburg Address." The downside of all the superlatives: Jeremiah Wright and the Trinity United Church of Christ are now fair game through November.

Why did Obama do it? Because he had no choice. He understood the wild fire that was raging underneath the radar and gaining ground. He made the best of a bad situation, but, all things considered, he suffered a net loss: his eloquent treatise on race in America does not overcome the "mainstreaming" of Jeremiah Wright. This is one "crazy uncle" that Obama desperately needed to stay in the attic.

2. Worse yet, after so skillfully avoiding the potential pitfall over the course of his long campaign, the crisis forced Obama into making race the central motif of his candidacy. Goodbye subtlety. Goodbye quiet undertone. Goodbye plausible deniability. This development makes his run exponentially more challenging.

Again, why did he do it? Again, he had no choice. He was desperate. Only a wider and more majestic discussion of race could temporarily insulate him from the growing firestorm.

What now? Even as he basks in the glow of nearly unanimous admiration, he is bloodied and staggered. He may well be mortally wounded. And as Obama continues to hemorrhage, Mrs. Clinton gets stronger with each passing day.

Remember the equation: the superdelegates get to pick whomever they deem the most electable candidate come fall--and the rationale for public consumption need not conform to the reality.

What can save Barack Obama?

Perhaps a liberal backlash. Right now Obama's tormentors are the very same folks good liberals love to hate: Hannity, Limbaugh, FOX News, the conservative blogosphere.

The conservative schadenfreude could save him, just as it resurrected Mrs. Clinton in New Hampshire.

But that strikes me as unlikely.

As the Swabian Prince suggested earlier this week, Mrs. Clinton will more likely benefit from the hard feelings against the vast right-wing conspiracy that deprived America of its transcendent Deliverer.

Perhaps the question now is this: will the Clintons attempt to rehabilitate Obama sufficiently for a run as VP--or is he already too radioactive?

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers; it is always an honor.
Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.
~~Thomas Jefferson

March 18, 2008 likely will prove to be an historic day.

Barack Obama, the first viable African American candidate for president of the United States, delivered a remarkable speech today in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love and the cradle of American liberty.

Much more obscure, and likely to be lost to the vast throng of posterity, the Wall Street Journal posted a hard-hitting and brutally honest Shelby Steele essay, which purports to explain an important component of the Obama phenomenon: race.

Taken together, they offer a revealing and insightful window into our history, our present reality, and our current dilemma.

Shelby Steele:

Barack Obama is absolutely correct that race has historically proven a disadvantage for African Americans seeking opportunity, prestige, and political power. Notwithstanding, Steele asserts that "race," at least at this particular moment, "is a powerful positive force in the body politic" filling the sails of the unique Obama candidacy. In agreement with Geraldine Ferraro’s now famous remark, Steele affirms: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position."


Obama's success is incumbent on a desperately desired "opportunity for whites to [personally] experience racial innocence."

Moreover, his campaign is an "allegory" for collective racial "redemption, reconciliation, and transcendence."

Perhaps we are all trying to get right with a just God?

Steele labels Obama a "bargainer,” skilled at manipulating an ancient white angst and dread over racial injustice .

Steele: "Bargainers make the subliminal promise to whites not to shame them with America's history of racism."

Bargainers present themselves as vehicles for white absolution. In return, whites, desperately in need of atonement, jump at the opportunity to enter into this mutually beneficial contract and accord full privileges and more to the convenient and pleasing vessel of deliverance.

Is there a downside to this reciprocally satisfying relationship between consenting adults?

According to Steele, the bargainer must surrender his individuality and complexity, opting for "invisibility" as an inoffensive and safe "conduit" for racial harmony.

"Thus, nothing could be more dangerous to Mr. Obama's political aspirations," asserts Steele, "than the revelation...that he sat Sunday after Sunday--for 20 years--in an Afro-centric, black nationalist church in which [whites] could never feel comfortable."

Steele is exactly right. Reverend Wright proved Big Trouble. Was Obama cornered with no way out?

What would he do?

He showed brave, facing the pack, pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

In fact, I think he might have escaped.

I am anxious to hear Steele's analysis of the Obama speech, but it seems to me that the stealthy "bargainer" forever shed his cloak of invisibility and forthrightly confronted the issue of race in America.

Moreover, he abandoned his weasel words in re Wright. He was there. He heard the sermons. He disagrees. He was offended. But then he offered an incredibly nuanced (and to me compelling) explanation of why he continues to love his pastor, his church, and his fellow congregants.

I thought Obama demonstrated an expert feel for American history. For the most part, he got the story right: the details, the ideals, the contradictions, the injustices, and the triumphs.

He also somewhat uncharacteristically placed himself and his candidacy plainly within the context of the long struggle to live up to our nation's founding principles, at the same time returning to a more familiar theme, casting himself as the embodiment of E Pluribus Unum.

It would have been more meaningful if he had said this when his public life was not at risk--but I thought he was on to something when he exhorted us to forego the toxic "gotcha" racial politics.

I find significant discomfort in the parade of conservatives, who, in our pursuit of Obama and his pastor, have adopted the language of the politically correct Left. If we have any hope of returning to sanity on the issue of speech, we will find it necessary to break the cycle of acrimonious sanctimony. Perhaps we should take the initiative and grant clemency when we hold the upper hand in one of these disgusting and frightening public spectacles.

The repeated accusations of racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism are inflicting great injury to our civil society. Accepting the proposition that "hate" and "hate speech" are the ultimate mortal and unpardonable sins is an unwise long-term strategy for conservatives; this invidious protocol is a rigged game invented by liberals that we can never ultimately win.

The downside of the Obama speech:

1. VDH is right: Obama did not address the key questions concerning "damage" done by the Reverend Wrights of the world. What Shelby Steele described as “this usually hidden corner of contemporary black life: a mindless indulgence in a rhetorical anti-Americanism as a way of bonding and of asserting one's blackness.”

2. Also as Steele notes, and Obama confirmed today, the "candidate of change" offers nothing "more than Democratic Party boilerplate" drivel. The Senator got all the questions right--but then failed to deliver on any answers. Where is the beef? After such a promising start, he offered us nothing of substance to consider.

The bottom line: this speech was a wonderfully well-crafted masterpiece of oratory. Did it save him from a complete and total meltdown? I think so. Was he able to deftly change the subject? Most probably. However, he walks away from this skirmish sullied and wounded. We know more about this candidate than we did a week ago—and it is not all good. We are watching him now with a new wariness.

However, in my mind, this relationship with his misguided pastor does not disqualify him to be president.

UPDATE: One last thought: it should not surprise us that the man who seems to be running for Redeemer in Chief begins this speech with America's "original sin."
In response to my post, "Obama is in Trouble," in which I suggested that the 527s would have a field day with Barack's incendiary Black Nationalist pastor, this word of caution from the

Swabian Prince:

I agree that he's in trouble, though I am not sure that it will be that easy for the issue to be raised in a general election, even by 527s. November is an eternity away--even the convention seems an eternity away--and eventually the subject will be exhausted. Long before then, people will decide they have heard enough about it, and for those who raise it again, there could be a fierce backlash in store. The OJ fiasco made it clear that almost anything can happen in this country when race is involved or can be plausibly invoked. And Chappaquiddick made it clear that even the most ruinous story can be rendered harmless by the passage of time and careful management, if the subject of the story has the correct political orientation and the media are so disposed.

But what I most worry about is the fact that, if THIS is the thing that brings Obama's candidacy down, it will sit very, very poorly with African Americans across the board. It may in the long run lead to some good effects, such as African Americans' moving away from voting as a bloc for Democratic candidates. But it could also lead to an enormous collective rage, which could in turn be a huge setback to racial harmony in this country.

And then the search will be on to supply an appropriately right-of-center target for that rage. I think that McCain, whatever his motives, has been right to leave the subject alone, so that when the backlash comes, he can avoid being a target of it. But the Clintons will try their best to make the Republicans the ones at fault. And crazy as it sounds, it could work, because think of who is carrying the ball on this issue right now--Limbaugh and Hannity and talk radio, etc.

At the moment the Clinton campaign has, in effect, farmed out its surrogacy to its ideological opponents. It will not be hard to turn and disavow them, when the time comes, and let them be the ones to bear the stain (just as Vietnam somehow became "Nixon's war"). Especially since African American voters are already so profoundly disposed to dislike and distrust conservatives and Republicans.

So this could still play out in ways that will hurt Republicans in what is otherwise looking like a pro-Democratic year. I am not predicting that, only suggesting it as a real possibility. In the end, if HRC gets the nomination, there are a lot of people who will have to be brought back on board. Demonizing the Republicans usually works.
~~Swabian Prince

And this: One other note from another astute friend of the Bosque Boys, Steffen Schmidt, aka Dr. Politics, who believes that this imbroglio "gives Mrs. Clinton a second wind," but he also judiciously advises that the breaking "stock market and financial crisis is going to knock Hill and Barack off the front pages" for a while.
Category: Campaign 2008.10
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The week before last I wrote:

Most importantly, however, [Mrs. Clinton] must create the impression among party insiders (obviously ultra-strategic thinkers) that she is a better bet in the fall. She must continue to create doubts concerning Obama's readiness. She must have a compelling "moral" argument for the nomination--but, much more importantly, she must convince the princes of the Democratic Party that she is the one who can deliver when it counts.

Why now? We are suddenly aware that Obama is not infallible or unstoppable.

The Bottom Line: If the super delegates believe that Hillary equals victory, they will find a suitable rationale for giving her the nod.

Ten days later?
Now more than ever.

Barack Obama is in Trouble.

The Jeremiah Wright question is a killer. Why?

1. Candidate Obama is between a rock and a hard place. Does he abandon the pastor who brought him to Jesus and taught him to believe in the Audacity of Hope? For many of us, this will demonstrate a lack of character. Or does he stick with his friend and spiritual mentor, who just happens to believe that America is a "God-damned nightmare of racism, brutality, exploitation, and oppression? Goodbye mainstream.

When did you stop beating your wife, Senator?

2. Obviously, Obama must renounce and reject Wright (which he has done and, presumably, will continue to do). But this course of action is also highly problematic. Repudiating your pastor of twenty years is no easy assignment. The "I was absent that day" defense is ridiculous, and, more importantly, it is deadly for a candidate whose entire campaign is built on sincerity and extraordinary judgment.

3. Even if Team Hillary and the mainstream media were to award Obama and his Reverend a pass, does anybody think that the GOP will? In the fall, Republican surrogates are going to "527" Jeremiah Wright mercilessly and on a scale previously unimagined.

We are constantly told that Karl Rove and his acolytes mastered "taking away the opponents greatest strength."

Just imagine the ads. You've seen and heard the tapes.

Jeremiah Wright (in full war cry and with the crowd going wild): "U.S. KKK of A....chickens coming home to roost...CIA conspiracy to infect black community with AIDS...God Damn America!!!"

Throw in some Michelle Obama admitting she is proud of her country for the first time, and Americans will be faced with their worst nightmare: a president who may secretly buy into misguided, hate-filled, victimization peddling that promulgates racial division and despair.

So much for hope, reconciliation, and change.

For the first time in a long time: advantage Mrs. Clinton.
We have been talking about Jeremiah Wright and his church (Barack Obama's home church) for a long time on this blog:

the Okie Gardener's extremely prescient original piece from thirteen months ago,

my analysis of the New York Times feature on Obama, Wright, and Trinity United Church of Christ from last April,

and this comment from a regular reader who asserted:

"A candidate's church shouldn't be an issue unless it is something truly weird or cultish... something that would indicate that the candidate is not of sound mind or character."

We have wondered when or if the bright light of public scrutiny might shine on this facet of candidate Obama's personal history, and we have speculated on the possible political impact of such an examination.

Is this church "weird enough" or sufficiently outlandish to influence the campaign?

How will the Radical Religious Left play in the living rooms of America?

Ross Douthat, a great writer and thinker with a sharp feel for politics and history, thinks the Reverend Wright factor may prove telling in Decision 2008. I tend to agree.

Douthat writes today in the Atlantic :

"So far, Obama has attempted to laugh off Wright's penchant for inflammatory rhetoric, comparing him to 'an old uncle who says things I don't always agree with,' and suggesting that this is 'what happens when you just cherry-pick statements from a guy who had a 40-year career as a pastor.' But as Wright's America-bashing gets more airtime -- and as his Obama-boosting sermons put his church's tax exemption at risk -- Obama may have to go further down the road to explicitly disavowing his pastor. His connection to Wright isn't the equivalent of John McCain's going to Liberty University to make nice with Jerry Falwell. It's the equivalent of John McCain taking his wife and children, most Sundays, to Jerry Falwell's church. And the disconnect between Obama's studied moderation and his congregation's radicalism requires more of an explanation than he's offered so far.

"In an election when many expected that Mitt Romney's fate would be determined by how he talked (or didn't) about his Mormon faith, it may be Obama whose candidacy ends up riding on how he addresses the relationship between his politics and his church."

Bottom Line: the key for Hillary has always been staying power. Could she stick around until the final rounds when her experience, training, and tenacity might prove decisive? As we head into the last phase of this campaign like no other, Mrs. Clinton seems increasingly well-positioned to knock out the kid with a vicious left cross.

UPDATE: Senator Obama responds:

"The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.

"Let me repeat what I've said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country."

Say what? Pretty weak. In twenty years he never actually heard "any of the statements that have been the subject of controversy"?

Two questions spring to mind:

How regular was his attendance?

How compliant does he expect us to be on this porous explanation?

UPDATE2: Obama Meltdown Begins.

From MSNBC: "Obama’s campaign announced that the minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., had left its spiritual advisory committee after videotapes of his sermons again ignited fierce debate in news accounts and political blogs."

This is big...and O seems to sense exactly how devastating...
Two weeks ago (Feb. 16), before the gloom of talking-head certainty set in, I wrote:

The nomination is coming down to the super delegates. If they voted today, they would vote for Obama because he seems unstoppable. The good news for Clinton: they are not voting today. She has time to punch a hole in his balloon.


It will be very tough, but Clinton must sweep the upcoming final big three states (very difficult but not impossible). For all that has gone sour in her campaign, Hillary has consistently excelled in these upscale high-stakes contests. Then, most importantly, she must somehow break the "spell" of Obama by casting doubt on him in some way between now and the day of decision.

I have always seen Obama as a big gamble: he could prevail in a huge way ("painting the map blue" as he says). Or we could wake up from our trance midway through the coming fall election season and suddenly look at this guy and say: "what in the hell are we doing?"

Between now and this summer, I can certainly envision a moment in which strategically minded Democratic Party bigwigs entertain grave doubts about Obama's electability. In that scenario, three for the price of one (Obama as VP) may emerge as a much safer bet.


Texas and Ohio: mission accomplished.

Now what?

It seems impossible now that a candidate will finish the primary season with enough "pledged delegates" to win the nomination. We can also assume, even under the rosiest Hillary scenario, that Barack Obama will finish with a slim lead in pledged delegates.

Inconceivably, after tens of millions of Democrats have cast their votes, 795 super delegates ultimately will decide this nomination.

Both sides will make persuasive cases before this political "college of cardinals."

Obama will argue that his plurality of delegates entitles him to the nomination.

What will Hillary say to that?

1. Why are we not counting the delegates I won in Michigan and Florida? Are we not the party that believes in enfranchisement and counting all the votes?

2. My wins have been more meaningful. I have won the most important Democratic Party stronghold general election states (CA, NY, MA, OH, etc.). Barack Obama keeps winning Southern states and Mountain states where we know the Republicans will prevail in November.

Important Caveat: She needs to keep winning. This discussion is purely academic, if she does not capitalize on this moment of new life. Specifically, her case is much stronger if she is able to move ahead in the popular vote (again this adds to her democracy-centric line of argument).

Most importantly, however, she must create the impression among party insiders (obviously ultra-strategic thinkers) that she is a better bet in the fall. She must continue to create doubts concerning Obama's readiness. She must have a compelling "moral" argument for the nomination--but, much more importantly, she must convince the princes of the Democratic Party that she is the one who can deliver when it counts.

Why now? We are suddenly aware that Obama is not infallible or unstoppable.

The Bottom Line: If the super delegates believe that Hillary equals victory, they will find a suitable rationale for giving her the nod.

One more important component, Mrs. Clinton must deftly insinuate into this campaign the notion that Obama is a better candidate for VP than the top of the ticket. She began that process today.

Why do I continue to believe we will eventually end up with a unity ticket with Mrs. Clinton on top?

Simple Answer: it is the smartest and most logical use of talent in the Democratic Party field.

"Ready on Day One" plus a "Change We Can Believe In" equals a tremendously explosive combination.

Picking Obama and shutting out the Clintons leaves too much talent on the table. Love them or hate them, the Clintons are hall-of-fame caliber politicos. Why bet your whole bankroll on the rookie? Especially when such gratuitous recklessness is not necessary. A unity ticket allows Democrats to spread the risk. Consolidation offers an opportunity to capture three top performers for the price of one.

An Aside: frankly, nothing less than a Clinton-Obama ticket can unite the party, if Hillary finds a way to slip in and "steal" this nomination with the clock winding down.

As I have said before, a Hillary-Barack ticket with Bill, Chelsea, and Michelle added into the mix is the most powerful combination of charismatic personalities since the Kennedys combined with the Johnsons.

In short, it is only common sense.
When picking a president, do Americans care about experience?

I have asked and answered that question on this blog several times. My answer thirteen months ago? Not especially.

In truth, winning the presidency is a combination of timing, availability, and likability.

Shortly after Obama announced, I asserted:

I make no definite prediction here, but in answer to the question of whether Americans will elect an inexperienced person whom they like and to whom they can attach their optimism and desire for a change? Or, in other words, can Barack Obama be elected? Bet the farm on it.

I stand by that analysis. Experience is something of a threshold question (you need to seem presidential to merit consideration), but experience has not generally played the ultimate deciding role in choosing a president.

Can Obama win? Yes.

But "can he win?" and "can he succeed?" are separate and fundamentally different questions. Some of us seem to be conflating the two.

If elected, can he be a great president? Nothing says he cannot; on the other hand, of course, there is nothing necessarily constructive about his lack of seasoning.

TIME Magazine asks this week: "Does Experience Matter in a President?"

They go on to prove scientifically that "experience" is virtually irrelevant.

It is increasingly trendy for smart people to proclaim that the presidency is a position of authority and responsibility wholly unlike any other; therefore, there is no prior experience for being chief executive of the United States. While that statement is true on its face, it seems intended to lay a predicate for an erroneous implicit conclusion: prior experience is irrelevant to the presidency. This is sophistry.

An aside: I am an historian and not a social scientist for two main reasons:

--I believe history is art--not science.

--And I do not believe I have the capacity to predict the future.

Human events (elections and presidential administrations, for example) are the product of multiple motives, unique political moments, and complicated webs of contingency. They generally do not conform to prescribed models or necessarily follow historical patterns.

For the record, there is a kernel of wisdom in the self-serving TIME coverage, which comes from one of America's great historians, Richard Norton Smith:

"Experience never exists in isolation; it is always a factor that coexists with temperament, training, background, spiritual outlook, and a host of other factors. Character is your magic word, it seems to me — not just what they've done but how they've done it and what they've learned from doing it."

But what of Obama?

I have repeatedly asserted that he is set to be the least-experienced, least-known president ever selected by the American electorate. We know almost nothing about him except that we like him. But, in truth, I don't necessarily hold that against him. The more interesting question, for me, has been why we like him? Why do we like him so much?

But as I have also said repeatedly, I can certainly feel the attraction. I like the guy too. It is okay to vote for this person based on instincts. We don't have to go through this tortured dance, twisting reason and history into logical knots in order to rationalize our emotionally charged desire for him to be president. You have my permission to vote for this man. No more elaborate arguments are necessary.

My nagging major reservation. What bothers me most about Obama?

We disagree on much--but it is Iraq that bothers me most. He has used his opposition to Iraq to get where he is today with the Democratic base. He has crafted a winning image as the authentic candidate of impeccable integrity. He will continue to espouse his out-of-Iraq rhetoric until Election Day, and will very likely win the race by a comfortable margin. And he will be committed to withdraw.

If not for Iraq, I could enjoy this moment without a feeling of impending doom. For another time...
A lot of hopeful speculation recently has the Clintons losing the nomination and splitting the party; that is, many conservative observers, supremely confident that they know what makes the Clinton's tick, have predicted a "scorched-earth policy," if Hillary loses.

Not likely.

These right-wing talkers are committing the same error they always make in dealing with the Clintons: they underestimate their talent and exaggerate their faults.

For example, think about the government shutdown of 1995. Intoxicated by our own propaganda, too many on our side assumed that "Slick Willie," the draft-dodger, would turn and run in the face of a firm conservative posture. This was a fundamental and colossal misunderstanding of the man from Hope (or Hot Springs or Harlem or wherever). And we paid the price for our arrogance. I trace the decline of Newt Gingrich in American politics to that misreading and over-confidence.

Now, based on the overly simplistic characteristic we feed to our less-intelligent allies, we are casting the Clintons as so egocentric and petty that they will bring the whole party crashing around their own personal defeat.

Two reasons why this is extremely unlikely:

1. There is not one scrap of historical evidence that points to that assumption. True the Clintons are incredibly ambitious (and petty at times), but they have never been "barn-burners"?

2. More importantly, what is in it for them, if they pursue a path of destruction? Out of one side of our mouth, we chastise Bill for being fantastically legacy-driven--and, out of the other, we assume that he will destroy himself historically by executing the most petulant political blunder of all time.

If Hillary loses the nomination, the Clintons will do as wise politicians have always done; they will support the nominee. Sometimes the support is heartfelt, and sometimes it is pro forma--but it has generally been there. I have serious doubts that the Clintons will break the pattern.

So, optimistic Republicans need to come up with another idea on which to hang their hopes.
Category: Campaign 2008.10
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Last week, Iowa State political science professor, Steffen Schmidt (aka "Dr. Politics"), lectured in Waco. During that visit and in subsequent conversations, Schmidt pointed out that the much-trumpeted Latino loyalty toward Clinton seems much more a function of familiarity (or lack of familiarity with Obama) rather than a deep-seated personal affinity for Hillary. Moreover, based on the most recent polling, Mrs. Clinton's two firewalls (Hispanics and white women) both seem to be crumbling.

Things are tough in Clinton-land at the moment.

Having said that, and keeping in mind the above analysis, here is the equation as I see it:

The nomination is coming down to the super delegates. If they voted today, they would vote for Obama because he seems unstoppable. The good news for Clinton: they are not voting today. She has time to punch a hole in his balloon.


It will be very tough, but Clinton must sweep the upcoming final big three states (very difficult but not impossible). For all that has gone sour in her campaign, Hillary has consistently excelled in these upscale high-stakes contests. Then, most importantly, she must somehow break the "spell" of Obama by casting doubt on him in some way between now and the day of decision.

One promising development: Republicans are warming to the prospect of running against Obama. The smart guys are starting to see some very appealing flaws in his defenses. There are ways to hit him. The most liberal senator. "Cut and run" in a moment where it finally looks like we might get things turned around in Iraq. Al Sharpton. His Black Nationalist church. Some oldies but goodies: taxes, gun control, abortion, etc.

I have always seen Obama as a big gamble: he could prevail in a huge way ("painting the map blue" as he says). Or we could wake up from our trance midway through the coming fall election season and suddenly look at this guy and say: "what in the hell are we doing?"

An aside: An Election Day repudiation of Obama would be a national disaster. If this great hope for and emblem of reconciliation (racial and otherwise) gets that close and loses, the collective disillusionment will be colossal. As a people, we would be loath to deny this candidacy--but, on the other hand, shall we elect a president about whom we know almost nothing simply because we desire some sort of symbolic closure to our tortured racial history?

When not caught up in the fantasy, all of this gets fairly serious, precarious, and frightening.

Between now and this summer, I can certainly envision a moment in which strategically minded Democratic Party big-wigs entertain grave doubts about Obama's electability. In that scenario, three for the price of one (Obama as VP) may emerge as a much safer bet.

And, once again, I continue to wonder if Obama himself really believes in his heart of hearts that he is truly ready for this dance. He might find the second slot a welcome relief, finding a face-saving exit from a daunting task exacerbated by unreasonable expectations he has done so much to help create.
Category: Campaign 2008.10
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
For years and years to come, when political historians and political junkies gather to remember the truly remarkable stories of triumph and tragedy, they will speak of the Huckabee campaign of 2008 in hushed tones of reverence. Seriously, pols will study and emulate the Huckabee achievement for decades. What makes this one so special?

Never has a candidate done more with so little.

Huckabee is a truly gifted comedian. He is funnier than Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy, both of whom were genuinely quick-witted pols with exceptional timing. While he sometimes over-extends (he gets a bit over-confident when he is on a roll), night-in and night-out he is Jay-Leno funny.

His commercial with Chuck Norris may be the all-time best of its kind: YouTube here.

"Chuck Norris doesn't merely endorse a candidate; he tells America how it's going to be."

Huckabee draws from a seemingly inexhaustible supply of great lines:

"They said this was a two-man race; they were right, and I am one of them."

"Don't tell me about the math. I didn't major in math; I majored in miracles."

Although I placed Huckabee on the Bosque Boys watch list back during the summer when he was merely a funny formerly overweight governor from hillbilly country, I have, in fact, consistently underestimated him.

After I predicted he had crested during the weeks preceding the Iowa caucus, following his amazing victory, I promised to never again sell him short. But there I was on the local six o'clock news last Tuesday opining that West Virginia was an aberration, and Pastor Mike would not play a role in the national primary. He got the last laugh, and I was on at ten explaining myself.

Fortunately, I was unavailable to appear that Thursday night to explain how the departure of Mitt Romney marked the end of the 2008 Republican campaign.

During the week before Super Tuesday the conservative talkers had shrilly demanded that Huckabee cease and desist for the good of the party and the movement and the memory of Ronald Reagan. When he refused, they unanimously inferred a cabal, insisting the Huckabee candidacy was merely a stalking horse for John McCain.

Ironically, this week it is the McCain forces who are calling on Huckabee to do the right thing and pack it in before he further embarrasses the home team by defeating the presumptive nominee.

Do I think Huckabee is going to win? Not a chance--but, once again, what do I know? Nothing.

For the record, for all the talk from Camp McCain concerning "dirty tricks" and "distortions" (all while the senator gave as good as he received), the Republican establishment went to great lengths to destroy the reputation of a pretty decent fellow in Huck.

On a serious note: there are a lot of evangelicals out there who think Huckabee got a raw deal with the party. While I am not necessarily one of them, the least-reported big story of this campaign is the growing rift between anti-evangelical conservatives and the so-called Christian Right.

An observation: There is a lot of confusion, frustration, and a sense of betrayal out in the evangelical conclaves. This is problematic. Republicans generally lose when they do not energize religious conservatives.