03 January 2008

Assessing Bloomnberg and (finally) Iowa

The Donkeyman makes some good points in response to my assessment of Bloomberg's potential candidacy, although I would dispute the sincerity of Bloomberg's backers vis a vis Obama. Obama's transcendental rhetoric, while perhaps vacuous and misguided, seems to be an honest impulse, or at the very least has attracted a following who believes in it, while Bloomberg strikes me as a lot of the same cynical Broderist wankery. Partisan Democrats, for all of their faults, have rightly been wary of the Beltway media pleas for "compromise," seeing as de facto capitulation to Republicans because it only works one way, pushing the Overton window inexorably to the right. Democratic candidates seen as too cozy with the hippies are lustily scolded, while Republican appeals to the far reaches of their base are waved away as a natural phenomenon.

Politically, Bloomberg is closer to Giuliani than Clinton, I admit I've left Giuliani out of the equation because I've written him off. Giuliani doesn't look likely to win any of the upfront primaries, and his national lead has disappeared. Barring a miracle, his slide looks irreversible.

But there are practical reasons why Bloomberg is less likely to oppose a Clinton nomination; she remains the most beatable Democratic candidate, and he doesn't want to jeopardize the chances for the "normal" Republican candidate. He probably needs an Edwards-Huckabee race to undergo Perotization, parlaying middle-class fear of hippies and religious nuts to give himself a chance to win. Otherwise, it's just a vanity campaign chasing a voting bloc that only exists in the minds of Washington pundits.

Now, for some more vapid horse-race inanity:

After tonight there will finally be some real votes in the box to talk about. Conventional wisdom says a low turnout at the Iowa caucuses favors Clinton, while a high turnout signals a boost for the two underdogs. If you needed to know anything about the Clinton campaign and the Democratic race in general, that might be enough. A Clinton win likely means game over; Obama wins and we go to the next round. Edwards must win to have any hope at all. If it goes Edwards-Obama-Clinton, we'll have a real ballgame on our hands. That's my (admittedly hopeful) prediction.

Huckabee looks more and more to me like a solid frontrunner. If Romney doesn't win in Iowa after using so many resources there, he'll look crushed and direction-less. Like Giuliani, see above. McCain may be catching a late wave of the not-totally-insane hawk vote, but it's too little, too late. Prediction: Huckabee/Romney/Who Cares.