Tuesday, February 2, 2016

So, pulling all the way up to nearly even with a declared Democratic socialist...Victory doesn't sound right

A Fuzzy Photo of New Hampshire, kind of a commentary

I could not have spent more time sitting in front of my big TV last night watching the sort of live streaming coverage of the Iowa Caucus on CBSN, ABC and NBC. I kept reading those numbers and thinking about what they meant.

Here is what the Clinton Campaign said:

 Campaign manager Matt Paul : “Hillary Clinton has won the Iowa Caucus. After thorough reporting — and analysis — of results, there is no uncertainty and Secretary Clinton has clearly won the most national and state delegates.”

Somewhere in my head, my flapdoodle indicator was flashing, warning me that a bullshit storm was erupting in the political world, that even Ted Cruz's remarkable verbosity in claiming Republican victory in Iowa was not long enough or loud enough to block it out.

The more people in a primary campaign talk about the legitimacy and significance of a close win, the more uncomfortable the actual feeling is inside the campaign. Bill Clinton may have snatched a second place New Hampshire standing from the jaws of embarrassment, cause for celebration so many years ago when his worst sexual misbehavior was in the future, but that's not at work here.

Hillary Clinton had everything she needed to crush Bernie Sanders, all the money, all the staff, all the expertise, all the rep. But she didn't. Talking about that finish as trouble for Sanders is delusional. He came from worse than nowhere with less than nothing and missed it by a sliver.

No way can you read that as bad.

If Matt and the Clinton staff believe that, her campaign is in deep trouble. Look at the reality, she almost got whipped (and that's as close as you can come without getting whipped) by a 74-year-old guy who wants to tax the bejaysus out of billionaires to fund a huge expansion of social benefits.

I say good for Bernie Sanders for that, because it's time working people got some of the juice this nation squeezes in such volume for the wealthy.

The Clinton people better be having a deep, dark conversation Tuesday morning about how to think about this. 

Measured in conventional terms, they can say that they won. But measured in more realistic terms, they should understand that this is what is going to happen when so many angry people find a leader to encircle. 

Hillary has been marching down a very traditional path, the Senate, a campaign that collapsed in 2008, The State Department. It looks for all the world as though she has paid her dues.

But the game is changing. Those dues are now defined as defects. She's an insider, and people who have been on the outside for so long have little time for it.

Some guy up in New Hampshire said it best. If voters in the Granite state go with their heads, they will back Hillary. If they go with their hearts, next week will be another Sanders victory.

What can we say about the Republican side?

Ted Cruz is not going to be president. Too mean. Too vastly disliked. Too many reasons for the normal people who show up in November not to support him.

Donald Trump is still not going to shut up, at least not yet. Marco Rubio looks hungry, and, of course, thirsty, too! The rest of them are just waiting for the dog of politics to shake them off and sprint along without them. A couple already quit when Iowa results became clear. More to come on the quitting front!

Lots has been made of turnout in Iowa. No matter how you count it, unless you are working for a media outlet that is dying for a headline (and they all are) it's a tiny number of people, not enough to fill a couple of Chicago neighborhoods.

Finally, I like the new TV a lot! 

Tremendous numbers of unfamiliar young faces broadcasting into cellphones and other tiny devices that make their faces look Yuge! Chasing here and chasing there, looking for a scoop! What's to not like about that? Also, Monday's coverage proves beyond doubt that formula is what defines modern media. They plugged those Iowa results into formula presentations that made them look vast and important. 

But they were not vast an important. It was just a couple of hundred thousand folks out for a good time in advance of a snowstorm.

This is going to be a very good battle any way you measure it. It's about time.