Saturday, January 05, 2008

The 2008 Presidential Races Get Rolling

As many of you who regularly read my blog know, I'm not big into politics here. (It's a fascinating, but dirty business.) I've written the rare column about it, but I watched the returns on Thursday's Iowa caucuses with some interest, and I thought I'd write something about it, as the 2008 presidential campaigns got officially underway.

As you all know, Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee were the winners on the Democratic and Republican sides, respectively. Obviously both candidates got a huge boost from winning the first major political contest of the 2008 presidential campaign. But I thought some pundits went a little overboard with the pronounciations they were making, especially about Obama.

He's a senator from neighboring Illinois, so his win wasn't that big a shock. He's made a concerted effort in that state, and it paid off big for him. He's the first black candidate to win that caucus. The real surprise may have been John Edwards finishing second, with Hillary Clinton coming in third.

Sure it's historic that Obama's the first black candidate to win the Iowa caucus. But to listen to some, you'd think he was just elected president. It made me think of a baseball analogy. It is the equivalent of a baseball team sweeping the first series of the season and beginning 3-0, and saying they are going to win the World Series. There's still a long way to go, and there are far too many hurdles to jump over before having any real idea who the two major party nominees will be. Can Obama truly win? It's just too early to see if he can keep the momentum going to really know.

And of course, don't pull the shroud over Hillary Clinton just yet. Like her hubby, they are both political animals, and just when you think they are finished, they come right back (think about Bill's affair with Gennifer Flowers). Last year, the race appeared to look like it was in the bag for her, and her race to lose. But you have to take polls with a grain of salt these days. How she does in New Hampshire on Tuesday may say much about what shape her campaign is in right now. Edwards finishing second in Iowa maybe a boost for him, but he needs some major wins in the next few primaries to have any shot. I really don't see that happening.

On the Republican side, Huckabee's win, like Obama's, is great for him, but most political observers think he doesn't stand much chance against Mitt Romney in New Hampshire. Romney's from neighboring Massachusetts and figures to take that primary. Rudy Giuliani barely registered in Iowa, and doesn't figure to do much in NH. He's banking on the bigger states in the 20-state "Super Tuesday" primaries on February 5. Don't count out John McCain, but he needs some early primary victories like Edwards, to have any chance at the nomination. The Republican side still seems pretty wide open to me.

It's way to early to make any prediction as to who the next president will be. Whoever it is, the candidate will have to appeal to the most important group in the US as far as electing the president: conservative Democrats and Independents. (I consider myself an Independent.) They will vote for a Democrat or Republican, and don't pidgeonhole themselves into either party. They can be of any background, and the one who makes the most inroads with them has the best shot.

But you know that before it's all over, they'll be some mud slung in various directions. Like watching a car wreck, you want to turn away and not look, but you have to. It will just be interesting to see who slings it and at whom.

And one other thing, to all the candidates. I frankly don't give a damn which sports teams you allegedly follow, so don't bother getting into any sports teams discussions. It only makes you look foolish. (Remember Hillary Clinton proclaiming her "love" for the Yankees in 2000, John Kerry talking about "Manny Ortez" in 2004, and Rudy Giuliani pandering to Red Sox fans last year?)

My dad may have had the best line about all the hubbub regarding the Iowa caucus results. "Wow, 10 more months of this?" Yep, we're just getting started. Ten more months before we get a new pennant winner, er, new president.

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