The Iowa caucuses are important because the line up after Iowa will set the direction of Big Media predictions. They will provide the frame for political narratives until the next primary. Iowa is the first horse race determiner in the nation.
Appearing on Charlie Rose, David Yepsin, the Des Moines Register’s political columnist, has set the ball rolling.
Obama has managed to position himself as an agent of change by resurrecting motifs used by the inexperienced Bill Clinton in his first presidential bid.
Perhaps the most interesting Yepsin comment concerns Barak Obama’s positioning; in political horse races, positioning is determinative.
“Barack Obama’s message this year is pretty much the one Bill Clinton was using in the 1992 about the need to change,” Yepsin noted. If Mrs. Clinton comes in third in Iowa, that would be very damaging for her because, “it would energize all her challengers.” If Obama wins, Yepsin speculated, “you could see a repeat of what we saw when John Kerry came out of here and won, and he just ran the table.”
Former President Bill Clinton, it has been said, was the first “black” president. The first black president’s wife, Hillary Clinton, now finds herself in primary struggle for the presidency with a real black presidential contender.
What to do?
Attempts to blackening the reputation of the nation’s second black presidential candidate have flopped.
In the good old days, political opponents were dispatched by third parties leaking the dirt to the mainstream media. But when one of Hillary Clinton's operatives tried in vain to make much ado about Obama’s drug use, mentioned in a general way in his biography, he had his head served to him on a silver platter.
Syndicated Columnist Robert Novack has written an entertaining autopsy of the latest hit job. Through a spokesman, Howard Wolfson, Hillary Clinton has “accused Obama of running a ‘slush fund.’ In fact, the Clinton campaign was spreading that story privately months ago.”
So far, the dirt is not sticking. Clinton operatives are claiming it may stick when and if the Republican nominee meets Obama in the general election, an eventuality that the smears circulated by the Clinton husband and wife tag team are designed to prevent. Skeletons surface. Apparently, the silver tongued Clintons are confident they can deal with their own surfacing skeletons.
On the Republican side, some of the presidential contenders have shifted.
Mike Huckabee, and early surger, appears to have fallen a step behind, while John McCain is finding his second wind.
McCain’s surging prospects appear to be due to a) character and b) the success of the surge in Iraq. Very early on, McCain whacked the Bush administration for not having deployed enough troops in Iraq. He was right. The surge dividends now are paying off, and Democrats, apart from U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, have adjusted their rhetoric concerning a precipitous pull out of troops from the war theatre.
In the fever swamps of the left, Dodd’s stand is regarded as heroic.
On the other hand, while Dodd’s stocks have improved at DailKos and the Huffington Post, two on-line progressive watering holes, he was not chosen as the person of the year by the Sunday Telegraph, a British publication. General David Petraeus was.
“But the reason for picking Petraeus is simple. Iraq, whatever the current crises in Afghanistan and Pakistan, remains the West's biggest foreign policy challenge of this decade, and if he can halt its slide into all-out anarchy, Gen Petraeus may save more than Iraqi lives.
“A failed Iraq would not just be a second Vietnam, nor would it just be America's problem.
“It would be a symbolic victory for al-Qaeda, a safe haven for jihadists to plot future September 11s and July 7s, and a battleground for a Shia-Sunni struggle that could draw in the entire Middle East. Our future peace and prosperity depend, in part, on fixing this mess. And, a year ago, few had much hope.
It’s encouraging in the New Year to reflect that sometimes the good guys win.