Election '08: The Big Picture

So last week, like any good soap opera, we were left a cliffhanger. Would Hillary’s personal attacks and racial traps affect the Obama campaign? Would Florida be Giuliani’s last stand? And could Mittmentum stall McCain’s burgeoning growth? While the ultimate answer to those questions is still in doubt, this last week has provided us many useful facts in our quest to discover who will become the next president of the United States.

The Democrats

With only three Democrats left in the race (Gravel who?) the stakes have been raised as the 2008 primary season eases into Super Tuesday and Hillary and Obama throw bo’s at each other like the twelfth round of a classic Gatti-Ward bout. I had suspected that this week we’d get a new barrage of attacks from the Clinton campaign, but instead we received a slight pull back from Hilary’s camp as the media and several leading Democrats railed against the unseemly and rowdy Bill Clinton who has recently been Hil’s attack dog. Even liberal Democratic icons like Ted Kennedy have criticized the manner that Bill’s injected himself into the campaign, and as of Monday Kennedy has joined his fellow Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry in endorsing Obama. In general the media has sided with Obama who is, so far, winning the media spin war, that is to say that so far it seems that Barack has the media’s sympathy. Some have argued that his mastery of spin has enabled him to launch his own dirty tricks (who gave Matt Lauer that Clinton-Rezko photo, eh?), without catching heat, but if that’s the case it can be argued that Obama’s the better, dare I say Reganesque politician? Then again, maybe I better not.

All of this spread right into the South Carolina primary where Obama scored a huge victory over Clinton, winning handily 55 to 27 percent. By the demographics Obama won with the black vote, taking both genders in four to one margins; and, while the white vote was tilted towards Clinton, it’s worth noting that Obama just about split the white male vote with Clinton 27 to 28 while Edwards took the rest. Considering that Edwards still came in third (still no voter love!) that’s not a bad look when you think of how racially charged this race was. Obama has to be breathing a sigh of relief knowing that he can take the black vote (to some, including myself it was in dispute. Yeah, I was sipping the Kool-aid) and perhaps do better among white men. Although what he really needs to think about is the Latino vote in the next couple of primaries. Latinos have shown that they can go both white and Republican, and if this primary remains as polarized as it has become Obama will need that vote if he’s to win the nomination. It will be interesting to see what his strategy will be in Florida, where he currently trails Hillary by 20 points.

The Republicans

If you’re a fellow Giuliani hater like myself, then the biggest story, if not the most fun story, has to be the primary collapse of the former mayor of New York. Let me try to put this in perspective: On May 19th 1845 Sir John Franklin led two ships, the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror into the Artic circle looking to find a passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The crew was comprised of one hundred and twenty nine men, and they were never heard from again. Franklin was more successful than Giuliani.

What usually starts off wrong will finish wrong, and whoever suggested to Rudy that he should ignore the opening primaries and focus solely on Florida should probably get checked for crack. Maybe if Giuliani hadn’t had corruption leaks out the wazoo, maybe if he didn’t have the presence of Frankenstein, and maybe if he had more of a message than “a noun, a verb, and 9-11” he might have done better. But by giving up his early national lead and allowing McCain, Romney, and Huckabee to steal headlines for the last two months, his campaign was doomed to failure. Currently he’s in fourth place in Florida and since Florida will probably be a winner-take-all state Giuliani’s going to leave with only a “I-ran-for-President-in-Florida-and-all-I- got-was-a-picture-of-Andy-Garcia” T-shirt. Pathetic.

The real Republican story is John McCain, his rise to dominance, and the fracturing of the GOP. Considered ‘liberal’ by many traditional Republican talking heads (like Rush Limbaugh) the conservative media machine is running around looking a chicken with its head cut off. While, like Rudy’s breakdown, it’s awfully nice to watch these intellectual prostitutes turn on each other like five junkies with a lone 8-ball between them, it’s important to remember that the more they turn on McCain the more endearing he becomes to independents and conservative Democrats. They say that the enemy of my enemy is my friend and that’s all some people need to vote McCain. He’s the Right’s Obama and that probably makes him the most dangerous Republican in the race. In fact, in the polls, he’s just about the only Republican who can win a general election and it’s only going to get closer.

Things to look for in the coming days:

Watch Bill Clinton’s arrogance battle with Hillary’s advisors as they tell him to calm it down while the media encourages him to turn it up. Obama’s Latino strategy (How do you say “politics of hope” in Espanol?), Giuliani’s concession speech, and the next big battle—the Florida primary. *Editorial submitted before the outcome of yesterday's Florda results-Ed

The Wolf runs a blog on political matters at www.wordofthepeople.blogspot.com. His first novel, The Intellectual Prostitute, will be dropping this Fall