I don’t really have anything to say about Joe Biden, though I suppose it’ll be interesting to see if he and Dodd endorse anyone.
Electrifying. Exciting. It’s easier, of course, to be excited and exciting when you’re winning, but he’s doing it. Hitting some populist themes strongly, but with a bit of subtelty and grace; emphasizing the idea of organizing and mobilization as more than just election tactics, but as integral to changing the world. The Obama who gets panned in Paul Krugman columns and sundry blog posts — the one who just wants to make nice with Republicans and doesn’t care about progressive values — doesn’t seem to be on the podium tonight.
Certainly, in principle Obama more than anyone else epitomizes the new progressive coalition and wields the coalition behind him with tremendous oratorical skill. The questions always been whether he can really deliver on that promise. Before today, I think relatively few people thought he would be able to pull off this unprecedented surge of young people and first-time caucus-goers — but he did. Charles Barkley says it’s a “great start”.
He was the thinking liberal’s sentimental favorite in this race, but obviously going nowhere. He came very close to beating Tom Daschle in a race for Democratic Leader back in the day, and maybe he has a future in Senate leadership.
This sounds pretty bad to me, especially compared to Edwards’ performance. The difference, I think, is that Edwards has a clear cause: his populism. That made for good speeches during the leadup to Iowa, and it makes a good speech in the wake of Iowa. It’s a fighting creed. Barack Obama’s message, in its different way, also is. But Hillary Clinton, sapped of her aura of inevitability, doesn’t seem to have very much to say. Her candidacy is fundamentally about a kind of brokerage transaction; she herself is the logical convergence point for a group of people associated with her husband’s administration and she’s a competent steward of that network of supporters. But that’s not a fighting message, it doesn’t leave you with much to fall back on when times look grim.
You could see Madeleine Albright there in the background, but Albright’s an eminence grise not someone you go to the mattresses with.
It’s a good speech. What’s more, Joe Trippi’s desperate spin is actually sort of convincing:
“It’s really a repudiation…of the Clinton campaign,” Trippi just said on MSNBC, interpreting tonight’s results.
“Clinton doesn’t have a lot to talk about,” Trippi continued, adding that the vote tonight showed that voters “don’t want the status quo that the Clinton campaign represents.”
Playing it straight, second place is second place and John Edwards is now the populist alternative to front-runner Barack Obama.
I think the manner of Barack Obama’s win is pretty impressive. I can’t be the only one who was a bit inclined toward a cynical roll of the eyes at the idea of winning on the back of unprecedented turnout, mobilizing new voters, brining in young people, etc. That sounds like the kind of thing that people say they’re going to do but never deliver on. But he did deliver. That’s impressive.
Earlier today, an Obama supporter reminded me of this old Chicago Reader profile of Obama from back in the mid-1990s as proof of his progressive bona fides. It’s certainly an article that makes you feel good about this guy being elected President of the United States. What’s more, it’s a reminder that tonight’s victory for organizing and mobilization was spearheaded by a former community organizer; he’s a guy who believes in the power of mobilizing new people and brining new people into the process. In Iowa, it’s worked very well for him, and it’s pretty thrilling to think about what could be accomplished with that kind of energy nationwide.
It looks like he’s likely to wind up in second. Certainly, I hope he hands on to it, both for the blow it’ll do to Hillary Clinton’s chances and also because he deserves to do well. It’s very hard to see how his candidacy can stay viable without an Iowa win, but he’s had a huge — and entirely positive — impact on the race.
I know he’s the real winner, but isn’t fourth place for John McCain kind of pathetic? Conversely, left-for-dead Fred Thompson turns out to still have some residual support. And why not? After all, the idea of Fred Thompson — a totally normal, non-elderly orthodox conservative — makes a ton of sense. If his staff can somehow resuscitate their candidate, I think there’s clearly a market among the Republican faithful for what Thompson would be selling were he not too lazy to sell it.
Is, of course, perpetual war and perpetual occupation as John McCain outhawks Rudy Giuliani 100 years of war in Iraq.
UPDATE: Here it is:
The hundred years’ war….