Thursday, January 03, 2008


Yes, I'm still on vacation, but I had to weigh in on the start of the presidential race. I'm a political junkie, so I'm always excited by this kind of thing, but you don't have to be a nerd to agree that this is the most exciting presidential contest in about 100 years.
I know there are several non-Americans who read this blog, and I'm sure many of them may be confused by Iowa's caucus system. To tell the truth, I'm a little confused by it myself, but Jeff Greenfield did a great job of explaining it in Slate this week.

But let's take a look at the results. The big winners on Wednesday were Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee. I'll start with Huckabee.

It's hard to find anyone who would have predicted a Huckabee win in Iowa just a few months ago. He's a governor from a backwater state with an "aw shucks" manner and a weakness for bad one-liners. But he won. And it was a pretty convincing victory, too. He finished about ten points ahead of Mitt Romney, who spent a ton of money there.

Rumor has it Huckabee doesn't have much of a national organization, so he may have a hard time translating this win into momentum in New Hampshire. But he may actually have staying power. I interviewed Huckabee several times while working as a reporter in Texarkana and I found him to be a very charming and personable guy. He might actually be headed somewhere.

On the Democratic side, the victory went to a guy from my generation. The first Gen-Xer to make a splash in national politics, Barack Obama may well be on his way to becoming the nation's first black president. I can't wait for the Baby Boomers to lose their stranglehold on power, but that's another post for another day. The Democratic field is extremely tight, with John Edwards and Hillary Clinton essentially tied for second. Again, if you're a nerd, this is extremely exciting.

It's hard to read the tea leaves from a single in one small (in population, anyway), odd state, but it feels like the nation is looking for the candidate who is least like the current occupant of the White House. Who really is a uniter and not a divider. Who can help restore the name of America in the world. These certainly seem like positive developments. Of course, New Hampshire's primary is on Tuesday, and things may look completely different by then.

But some candidates won't be making the trip to the Granite State. Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd dropped out of the race after their showing (or lack thereof) in Iowa. Mike Gravel may have dropped out of the race, but it's likely no one noticed.

And what of Fred Thompson? Thompson reportedly said he would drop out if he finished lower than third. He's denied saying this, but I remember him saying something pretty close to that a few days ago. But on Wednesday, Thompson tied for third place, but the candidate has vowed to keep running.

While picking over the election results, I asked my parents, "When did the Republicans ever get the idea that Thompson was a dream candidate? I mean, yeah, Reagan was an actor, too, but..."

My dad piped in, "He played a very convincing DA on 'Law and Order.'"

And I added, "I heard him deliver some great throwaway lines in a movie where he played the Defense Secretary."

Then my mom put it all into perspective. "Of course Thompson's doing badly, the writers are on strike."

Of course! Why didn't I think of that. On Wednesday David Letterman returned to the air with his staff of union writers and said said ā€œWithout writers and without caffeine, Iā€™d have virtually no personality whatsoever.ā€

How much more so for Thompson.

That's all for now. I must sleep and prepare for the awesome task of getting two toddlers into a crappy little regional let. Regular posting will resume next week, including regular doses of baby photos and obscure trivia about the Faroe Islands. Thanks for hanging on through the holidays.



At 12:05 pm, Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Oh, hey, I borrowed that Huckabee photo from you ā€” hope you don't mind.

And is it just me, or does Fred Thompson look a lot like Frasier Crane?


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