31 January 2008
Rick Perry endorses John McCain
Rick Perry hopped aboard the bandwagon today, endorsing McCain because of he "can and will" win the war against terrorists.
About that endorsement...um, yeah...*
RG Ratcliffe and Gary Scharrer take the Rick Perry-as-damaged lede:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry's national political posture was bruised Wednesday as the presidential horse he was riding in the Republican nominating process dropped out to endorse U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.I had to read that sentence a few times before I realized it was supposed to be an or, not an and.
Perry had put his own political credibility on the line last year by becoming the only Republican governor to endorse former N.Y. Mayor Rudy Giuliani for president. Eight of Perry's GOP gubernatorial colleagues had thrown their support to McCain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Perry declined to meet with reporters Wednesday to discuss the presidential contest or any possibility of his own future endorsements. Perry spokesman Robert Black said Perry was disappointed that Giuliani did not win.
"The governor hasn't made a decision if he's going to make an endorsement," Black said.
The whole Texans for Giuliani thing was a little odd. The Texas money establishment seemed to think they were backing a winner, but it never even took the nasty ads that I assumed would dethrone Giuliani. Instead it was just a slow drip-drip-drip. People have criticized Thompson's campaign -- and deservingly so -- but even he ran better than Rudy.
Still, on the off chance Perry was planning for running for re-election, this certainly won't help plans.
*The movie was filmed in Austin. I know you've seen it.
Ashby High Rise
I'm not sure what they are searching for.
28 January 2008
May as well followthrough
Rick is off campaigning for Rudy in Florida. Will it work out better than in Florida?
Guess he got tired of politics...
Is John Edwards just staying in the race to give Obama a chance against Hillary?
He might be hoping to become Attorney General, I guess.
24 January 2008
It is frustrating to me when our elected officials do things solely for political reasons. Given that a fiscal stimulus is almost never a good idea -- monetary policy is the more efficient, timely, and effective method -- news that we're getting stuck with a fiscal stimulus package is not welcome. If they were going to stimulate, they should worry about the credit crunch. Sigh.
The man can write
Do you ever read something and think, "wow, they captured almost exactly what I was thinking."
Jay Cost does that twice today. First, on whether McCain can survive the Anybody-But-McCain crowd. It's amusing to me that if McCain hadn't spent 3 years as a Democrat, he'd be the nominee right now.
Cost also writes up Fred's presidential run post-mortem. Not quite as close to my thoughts as his McCain piece, but quite good.
23 January 2008
Hrbacek photoshop flap makes Politico
This is not the national news you want to make. The Politico:
This is from the "too weird to believe" files. The Houston Chronicle has a story today (hat tip to talkingpointsmemo.com) about Dean Hrbacek, a Republican hopeful in Texas 22nd District to take on Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas) that you just have to read.
The Chronicle reports that Hrbacek "appears slimmer than usual in a new campaign brochure because a photo of his head was affixed to the image of a different body."
It seems that Hrbacek was too busy to take an official photo so his campaign committee attached his head on another guy's body and used that new image for a campaign mailer. A slimmer, trimmer guy. For real.
I note that the folks over at CD22Watcher don't think this will affect Hrbacek much. I wonder whether they really believe that or whether it's something they want to believe.
21 January 2008
One of the amusing things of this campaign has been to watch some of the movement conservative establishment shill relentlessly for a guy who has claimed a very recent conversion on almost every issue they care about. To wit, Rich Lowry:
Wait, wait. Fred Thompson, who has spoken repeatedly and at length about how he doesn't lust for the presidency, is lusting for the vice presidency? And what would Thompson bring to a McCain ticket? No homestate electoral college considerations, no balancing. At most, McCain might decide to make Thompson his pick for VP because Thompson has been candidly telling the truth, moreso than even McCain has.
McCain has the advantage of, as a couple of people have noted, having some de facto wingmen in this race. First, there's Fred, whose lackluster showing in South Carolina was just enough to help McCain win there. As Ryan Sager writes, "Fred Thompson surely has a claim on the vice presidential nod should McCain go all the way, given the votes he took from Mike Huckabee on the Arizona senator's behalf." Then, there's Huckabee in Florida. As Martin and Ruffini point out, he's a great asset to McCain, drawing votes from Romney. Not only that, Huckabee has verged into man-crush territory with McCain and can be counted on to call any attack on him unfortunate and unfair.
What Lowry misses is that if there's one thing that Republican candidates agree on, it is that -- no, it's not policy -- they all detest Mitt Romney. Perhaps because he's attacked them all disingenously. And it makes it awfully hard for Romney to be the nominee in an elongated, splintered race.
And may your dreams
If the thunder cloud
So let it rain
Rain down on me
18 January 2008
The Runaway Grand Jury
In case you haven't been following the story, Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina's house in suburban Houston burned down in late June. Medina's house had been in foreclosure in late 2006, so prosecutors were understandably suspicious. Yesterday, a grand jury indicted Justice Medina. Immediately thereafter, highly embattled DA Chuck Rosenthal stated that he would move to dismiss the indictment.
Today, the indictment was dismissed by a judge, per the AP wire:
"There was not enough evidence at this time to go forward," Harris County assistant district attorney Vic Wisner said. "It shouldn't be construed as in any way absolving anybody of any crime or any indication that they will not ultimately be brought to account for these offenses."
State District Judge Brian Rains dismissed all the charges on motions from the prosecutor's office at a brief hearing.
Wisner said the investigation was continuing.
"Our office, my colleagues, my supervisors, as well as the investigators in the Harris County Arson Bureau all feel that the case is best handled at this point in time in an investigatory stage rather than a prosecution stage," Wisner said. "Nothing more, nothing less."
Like Tom Kirkendall, I'm confused by why the DA took the case to a grand jury. Tom K:
If the DA's office knew going into the grand jury that they did not have sufficient evidence to make a case against Justice Medina, then why on earth did they bring the case before the grand jury at this time? Inquiring minds want to know.
I'm tempted not to speculate, but this is a blog, so why hold back? A possible explanation seems to be that the DA's office wanted to indict someone who wasn't Justice Medina, probably to pressure a bigger fish, and the grand jury jumped the gun. [Two grand jurors suggested politics as a reason for the indictment's dismissal, which appears likely to earn them a contempt of court citation.] The DA's office seems to signal that they intend to go after Medina, but that they don't have enough evidence yet:
[Assistant District Attorney Vic] Wisner said the office would continue to investigate David Medina and his wife Fran in connection with the fire that destroyed their home last summer.
"We're six months into a 10 year statute of limitations," Wisner said. "It's like being three minutes into the Super Bowl."
People's assumptions that politics may have played a role in the indictment's dismissal is an unfortunate drawback of having an elected DA. But presumably Rosenthal -- while he's showed surprisingly poor judgment in emails -- hasn't completely lost his marbles. Prosecutorial discretion is one of the most important principles of our government, so it seems a little early to criticize Rosenthal for this...there's plenty to criticize him about for other stuff anyway. Making sure a case meets the "reasonable doubt" burden is one of the most important jobs of a prosecutor.
One might also note that, according to his lawyer, Medina had allowed his homeowners insurance policy to lapse, which seems an odd thing for someone committing an arson.
So Texas politics is always entertaining. And I haven't even mentioned the salacious rumors angle to the story, which I've now heard from several people in the last day.
The one in which I sound like BlogHouston
I'm sure the governor's staff doesn't like this Channel 2 Houston news piece about Perry's replacement for the Governor's Mansion.
Local 2 Investigates the Texas governor's posh new home you're paying for. Did you know Governor Perry moved?
The change of address came as a surprise to many state representatives and senators, too, because it happened after the Legislature let out for the year.
Investigative reporter Amy Davis uncovers the tab you're picking up for Perry's new place.
Seriously, am I watching KPRC news or Hard Copy? That's embarrassing.
Plenty of people think the tab was a little over the top; perhaps so. But do I really have to feel like I'm watching Hard Copy? Also, making it out to be a serious "investigative reporting" piece is shameless. This story is months old and was revealed by press release. Please.
Some 'Truth Squad'
I didn't mind this piece by Alan Bernstein in the Chronicle, but I hope he didn't expect the headline writers to call it "The Truth Squad: Examining the claims of GOP hopefuls in the 22nd District." When you call something a truth squad, you are implying that the candidates are lying. Bernstein didn't even come close to establishing that, perhaps because he wasn't trying to. For example:
CANDIDATE: Former Pasadena Mayor John Manlove.I'm pretty sure I won't be supporting Manlove, but his statement seems entirely reasonable to me. A lie? Hardly. Reasonable information for a reporter to include? Yes, definitely, but not under an article headlined "Truth Squad."
STATEMENT: "I am the only candidate with a proven record in business and in government ... (and) I abolished the tax department."
INFORMATION: Manlove founded an advertising agency. Candidate Shelley Sekula Gibbs, a dermatologist, was a Houston councilwoman; candidate Dean Hrbacek was mayor of Sugar Land and works as a tax lawyer and certified public accountant; candidate Robert Talton has served in the state House and is a lawyer. As mayor, Manlove voted with the majority on the city council to contract with Harris County to collect taxes for Pasadena rather than have it done by city personnel.
The only thing even close to a 'lie' was Shelley:
CANDIDATE: Former councilwoman and interim congresswoman Shelley Sekula GibbsUnfortunately, Shelley has an Al Gore-like habit of repeatedly inflating her accomplishments.
STATEMENT: She served on the Houston council for six years and "during that period of time I rolled back taxes three times and ... helped to cap a tort reform initiative."
INFORMATION: Tax rate reductions came on votes by the mayor and the 14-member council. The council has no jurisdiction over tort reform. While she was a councilwoman, Texas voters in 2003 approved a referendum capping financial awards in many lawsuits. She advocated for the proposition, according to a spokesman. The referendum was supported by the Texas Medical Association's political arm, to which Sekula Gibbs contributed money a year after the passage, according to state records.
Though I understand the headline writer's desire to sensationalize, an editor really should've re-worded...
Also, I eagerly await the Chronicle article where Nick Lampson's current rhetoric is contrasted with his voting record back when he held a solidly Democratic district. Somehow, I think I'll be waiting a long, long time for that one.
Photoshopping? Bad. Photoshopping badly? Really bad.
The brochure that U.S. House candidate and former Sugar Land mayor Dean Hrbacek mailed to voters this week says, "Dean's record speaks for itself."You can go look at a small photo of the image in question at the Chron article. Even with a bad resolution, it doesn't look real. If you're going to photoshop, at least make it look good! Sheesh.
But his physique does not. In a photo next to the words of praise, Hrbacek's body is spoken for by the torso of an appreciably slimmer man.
The picture, presented as a true image of the candidate, is actually a computerized composite of Hrbacek's face and someone else's figure, in suit and tie, from neck to knee caps. The give-away is a flawed fit of head and collar.
Hrbacek, a tax lawyer and accountant, did not return calls about the campaign literature Thursday. He is among 10 Republicans seeking the nomination to run against U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Stafford.
But campaign manager Scott Broschart admitted the image is a fake.
Hrbacek has been so busy meeting voters in the 22nd Congressional District that he had no time for a photo session that would have produced a full-length, genuine photo for the political mailing, Broschart said.
So Hrbacek's campaign consultants at the Patriot Group in Austin — whose clients have included congressmen, elected state officials and politically influential homebuilder Bob Perry — put the headless body with the candidate's disembodied head.
I'm pretty baffled as to why Hrbacek's campaign issued a statement saying that he has no time for a photo session. Really? That's pretty standard. This may seem silly and non-substantive, but this is the basic tackling-and-blocking of political campaigns. When you can't do that, it calls everything else into question. And the response is equally bizarre: what do you pay your political consultants for, if they won't even fall on their sword for you?
Also, my favorite take on this was from Evan Smith: "Can't They Photo Shop a Vowel Into His Name?"
17 January 2008
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn announced plans Tuesday to push for federal legislation to make government spending information more accessible to the public, much like what Comptroller Susan Combs has done in Texas.
Cornyn is proposing an expansion of the national government spending Web site that allows people to search federal contracts and grants. A pilot program would allow searches of such expenditures as government staff salaries and travel costs.
The national Web site http://www.usaspending.gov resulted from the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, which had bipartisan backing in Congress.
Combs and Laura Lee Prather, vice president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, joined Cornyn at a University of Texas news conference, where he touted his work in sponsoring recently signed legislation toughening the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Along with establishing a hot line service and ombudsman to help information seekers, the law also places a 20-day time limit for federal agencies to respond to requests and places a presumption that agencies should release information on request unless there is a finding that disclosure could do harm.
It'd be reasonable if taxes are cut -- preferably of the payroll variety, for anti-regressivity purposes -- to make it revenue-neutral. Of course, since the government already makes more off every gallon of gasoline than the oil companies, maybe people will stop blaming oil companies for high gas prices. [If you're going to point out facts like that, you should really be getting paid by oil companies. -- ed. I know, right?]
A federal commission created by Congress called for big increases to the federal gas tax on Tuesday as part of a sweeping overhaul of how America builds and pays for its highways, bridges and transit systems.
The proposal for a 40-cent increase over five years touched off a stormy debate in Washington that is expected to last until at least 2009, when legislation governing scores of transportation programs expires and must be rewritten.
In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry condemned the proposals.
Much of Democratic opposition researcher Jason Stanford's work is done in a hermetically sealed world -- locked in strange hotel rooms, legislative libraries and obscure courthouses, poring over documents and clues that can wound opponents.
"What we do is hold politicians to publicly documented facts," Stanford said. "This job is tailor-made for a high-achieving debate nerd."
Stanford’s career choice is considered a social faux pas in some circles, and even his own mother is hesitant to talk about it.
Despite the judgmental treatment he often receives, Stanford says his research is still a satisfying replacement for his original dream job: espionage.
Stanford studied Russian at Lewis & Clark College and spent time in Moscow, determined to become a Russian spy for the United States.
But his dream of becoming an international man of mystery was quickly dashed when the Cold War ended in 1991 and spy jobs dried up.
Stanford returned home and, in 1994, took a research position in Texas with Gov. Ann Richards' reelection campaign.
Although the governor was unexpectedly defeated by newcomer George W. Bush, the campaign proved a valuable training ground for research methods, as Stanford became obsessed with the private business of politicians.
Stanford opened his own firm in 1997, and it grew rapidly.
The initial startup fee for a research consultant from Stanford Research ranges from $15,000 to $20,000, with additional charges for long-term consulting work, he said.
Stanford's salary lies in the low six figures, he said.
Your lovin don't pay my bills
Cash on hand as of the end of 2007, via Gardner Selby:
Selby throws around some speculation about who'll run for what, before acknowledging the elephant in the room: everything depends on what Kay Bailey Hutchison decides to do.
* Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison $7.9m (as of 9/30)
* Attorney General Greg Abbott $7.3m
* Governor Rick Perry $2.7m
* Comptroller Susan Combs $2.6m
* Lt. Guv David Dewhurst $0.8m
* Land Commish Jerry Patterson $0.51m
* Ag Commish Todd Staples $0.33m
* Former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams $0.16
Abbott didn't want to talk politics. But an Abbott adviser said, on condition of anonymity, that there won't be an Abbott-Dewhurst brawl for lieutenant governor. The two get along. Also, Abbott is disinclined to challenge a sitting lieutenant governor. My take: He wouldn't want the blame for triggering a partisan bloodbath.
Of course, that's what we thought in late 2005 too, when it looked like KBH was going to challenge Rick Perry. Then she waited so long that Carole Strayhorn announced a quixotic primary challenge cum independent bid.
Stephen Marks, an opposition research specialist for more than 12 years, worked on some of the most competitive bare-knuckles elections in recent years, including the 1996, 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, the second North Carolina Senate race between Jesse Helms and Harvey Gantt in 1996, and the Georgia Senate race between Max Cleland and Guy Millner.
He also dug up dirt for scandal-plagued lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his partner Mike Scanlon, oil company Koch Industries, and he helped former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay look up negative info on his nemesis, Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle, who was targeting DeLay for campaign finance violations.
Marks, who recently retired from his career in opposition research, tells all in his new book, "Confessions of a Political Hitman: My Secret Life of Scandal, Corruption, Hypocrisy and Dirty Attacks That Decide Who Gets Elected (And Who Doesn't)."
14 January 2008
This guy is the savior of the Texas Democratic Party?
On the hustings lately, Noriega sounded like he was still coming to terms with his front-runner status, swinging from a cockiness that critics might label arrogance to sometimes appearing adrift or tentative. At his stops, party activists have applauded him, but some seemed open to the message of neophyte candidate Ray McMurrey, a Corpus Christi government teacher who says Noriega does not have clear-cut positions on issues ranging from health care to public financing of campaigns.
Afterward, talking to reporters, he seemed to take a swipe at Sun City residents in response to questions about debating his challengers.
"We've got guys killed; I wish people would wake up. I mean, we're sitting in here, look at this, people out here fishing, there's a lake over here; they're riding around here in golf carts. Come on, guys, get with the game." Noriega later said he didn't intend to insult anyone.
On Wednesday, Noriega's camp reprimanded a campaign aide who posed as a blogger and gave a false name to Cornyn staffers while seeking a copy of the senator's public schedule.
Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University, said Noriega seems to be the front-runner among the Democrats. But, Jillson said, he could bushwhack his chances by focusing on the Iraq war over domestic issues and refusing to debate.
"The idea that you wouldn't debate is an affront to the process," Jillson said. "There are things about Rick Noriega that strike me as amateurish."
Cornyn smartly said that he might be willing to debate primary opponent Larry Kilgore, who epitomizes the phrase "fringe candidate."
But the netroots won't be dissuaded!
11 January 2008
Moreso than even most senators, Mike Bloomberg is a guy that looks in the mirror and sees a president.
Right now, it looks like he and his handlers have done a masterful job of keeping the guy in the spotlight without any of the accompanying negative press that comes from being a candidate. In a way, it kinda reminds me of W's pre-2000 campaign. Theoretically W hadn't decided to run for president either.
It will be interesting how the press decides to report Bloomberg's partisanship. He's a lifelong Democrat who was nominally a Republican for 6 years, and is now being persuaded to run for president by iconoclastic Democrats. Hrm.
Noriega: not ready for primetime?
DMN's Robert T. Garrett didn't seem particularly impressed:
Cornyn isn't the sort of guy who makes a lot of mistakes on the stump. And reviews like this aren't going to entice the Democrats DC money machine to turn on the spigots for Noriega.
At recent forums, Mr. Noriega has consumed most of the time he was given for opening remarks by recounting at length his service as a Texas Army National Guard officer in Afghanistan and on the Texas-Mexico border, and as a civilian coordinator of relief for Hurricane Katrina victims in Houston.
While the five-term state lawmaker clearly believes his résumé sets him apart, he tends to leave himself little time to spell out why Mr. Cornyn should be unseated. He also leaves arguments unfinished. At the Central Texas Democratic Forum in Austin on Thursday, Mr. Noriega compared the election to an employee's annual job performance review.
"We have the opportunity now to say, 'Mr. Cornyn, you know what? You did a great job. We want five more years of that,' " Mr. Noriega said.
However, instead of urging voters not to give the incumbent a second six-year term, Mr. Noriega began to reminisce about growing up in the 1960s, during the U.S.-Soviet race to put a man on the moon.
Paul Burka rounds up all the Texas House races here.
Democrats are confident that they're going to dethrone the Speaker. That result seems less than 50% to me.
The best paragraph I read today
From The Atlantic's James Fallows:
Through the quarter-century in which China has been opening to world trade, Chinese leaders have deliberately held down living standards for their own people and propped them up in the United States. This is the real meaning of the vast trade surplus--$1.4 trillion and counting, going up by about $1 billion per day—that the Chinese government has mostly parked in U.S. Treasury notes. In effect, every person in the (rich) United States has over the past 10 years or so borrowed about $4,000 from someone in the (poor) People’s Republic of China. Like so many imbalances in economics, this one can't go on indefinitely, and therefore won't. But the way it ends--suddenly versus gradually, for predictable reasons versus during a panic—will make an enormous difference to the U.S. and Chinese economies over the next few years, to say nothing of bystanders in Europe and elsewhere.Read the whole thing. Lou Dobbs ought learn some economics; might do him some good.
If I were Evan Smith, I'd point out that Fallows once worked for Texas Monthly.
Democratic Senate candidate Rick Noriega's campaign reprimanded a staff member Wednesday for requesting information from U.S. Sen. John Cornyn's office by presenting himself as a blogger and giving a false name.
Noriega, a Houston state representative, is running for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat held by Cornyn.
Rick Cofer, who has told reporters he is working on special projects for the Noriega campaign, was revealed as a caller presenting himself as a blogger named Jay Coxlie. Cofer apparently called Cornyn's Washington office on Tuesday seeking the schedule of Cornyn's public events, the Austin American-Statesman reported online.
That call occurred after a similar call earlier in the day in which the caller cut the call short, according to Cornyn's office.
A Cornyn aide figured out Cofer's identity by the number on caller ID. Another aide Googled the number and it came back to a listing for Cofer.
Let's hope these words don't sound prophetic in 10 years
NASA is retiring the space shuttle program in 2010, and we'll have no capability to get into space until Orion comes online, which is scheduled to be 2015.
"I truly believe the gap of five years is a security threat to our country," said [Senator Kay Bailey] Hutchison during a visit by the two lawmakers to a Lockheed Martin test lab for Orion development near the Johnson Space Center. "I just hope we don't have to wait for a crisis."
One wonders whether certain parts of the rest of the world will join the utopian demilitarization of space that currently exists.
Things I said on the night of the New Hampshire primary
* If you asked me who the Dem nominee would be, I'd say it's still a push between Obama and Hillary. Is it surprising that I said the same thing pre-NH and that even though Hillary exceeded expectations, my opinion didn't change much? Schmeh.
* When I said I still that it was a push, a friend asked me to pick. So I went back to my general rule of presidential primaries: go with the establishment. So I'd have to pick Hillary, I guess.
* McCain looks to be the most likely to win the GOP nomination now.
* How has Giuliani managed to get off the hook for Iowa and NH in the media? It's not like he didn't compete in NH; he did. He just didn't late in the game, but he did run $3M worth of ads there. And it's not like he completely skipped Iowa either.
* I always assumed Giuliani was going to try to do respectably in either NH or Iowa. He was polling well in both at one point. Just by showing up, he grabs the social liberals in the party and some hawks. If Giuliani ends up making a serious run at the nomination, his success will certainly devalue Iowa and NH.
* How much does Mitt Romney want to spend on a quixotic quest to be president? Maybe it's sorta possible that he can win, if he injects a ton of personal money into his campaign. Then he has to hope that Giuliani and he are the last men standing, and he picks up enough delegates from defeated candidates...although McCain strongly dislikes Romney, so he'll get few McCain delegates.
* Remember when Hugh Hewitt was a serious pundit?
* How do you think Rick Perry feels about that Rudy endorsement? Iowa didn't seem to warm to Rudy via the Guv.
Please move Public Integrity
Since Ronnie Earle is retiring, it seems like a non-controversial time to suggest that Public Integrity ought to be moved under the control of the AG.
It's silly to let the citizens of Travis County decide who gets to exercise prosecutorial discretion over governmental corruption. Yes, that'd be a partisan change. But the state AG is actually elected by the citizens of this state -- meaning that Texans actually have some means of holding a part of state government accountable. Accountability? Good. Wildly disproportionate voting power by one county in this state? Bad.
And Democrats should keep in mind that the Attorney General of Texas won't be a Republican forever.
05 January 2008
Yesterday I watched the season premiere of the final season of The Wire. I may do a longer review, but here are some quick thoughts. I think the episode airs tomorrow, so no spoilers from me.
Wasn't really that much that happened -- definitely a plot continuation episode, with the introduction of the Baltimore Sun newsroom about half-way through. This episode didn't focus that much on the newsroom, at least relative to my expectations given the hype for season 5. I tend to judge season premieres against The Sopranos, which were usually the artsy ones written and directed by David Chase, where dream sequences began and plot cliffhangers were resolved. Not so really for this season premier -- season 5 really just seems to pick up right where season 4 ended.
Things I said on the night of the Iowa Caucus
These are going to be strung-together thoughts as I remember them of what I said on Thursday night:
* After the results were in: "The voting begins now." Iowa is less about the voting, and more about the post-spin. To some extent that's true of every primary season window where there's no voting, but because of the way the calendar is and historical factors, Iowa is particularly this way this cycle.
* McCain 08 = Kerry 04, in this way at least: both are candidates the media built up, tore down, and then forgot that all the reasons they initially built him up still apply. Hillary Clinton is starting to fall into this category.
* If you asked me who the GOP nominee would be right now, I'd pick McCain (thought that for a few weeks, though it's obviously not over 50%). McCain's strategy was smart -- he should get more credit for making it to 13% on a small amount of effort and organization. Seems to me that Giuliani has spun pretty well his miserable showing. I know he didn't compete in Iowa, but there's a reason for that.
* Obama has taken the shine off Hillary. But Hillary 08, post-Iowa reminds me a bit of W 2000, post-NH. Although it seemed close, McCain never had that much of a chance -- media-driven candidacies don't win Republican nominations. In the same way that W had to completely re-do his campaign in the wake of NH, Hillary has to do that in the wake of Iowa. She certainly can do that, and it's good to get the aura of invulnerability off early. If you asked me who the Dem nominee would be, I'd say it's still a push between Obama and Hillary. Is it surprising that I said the same thing pre-Iowa and that even though Obama exceeded expectations, my opinion didn't change much? Schmeh.
* Al Gore looks wiser in 2000: Bringing in Bill the way Hillary did was not a winning move. Hillary ran an awful closing campaign in Iowa. Bill has the reputation of being a brilliant political strategist -- we'll see in the next few months if he's as overrated as I think he is. His taking over the campaign strategy in Iowa was a bust. Can he put aside his ego?
* Fred is wholly uninterested in fighting the media narratives. Is he getting bad advice or being willfully stubborn? It's pretty impressive how reporters are knowingly misinterpreting what Fred says because it makes for a better story and fits their narrative.
* It's hard to see a path to the nomination for John Edwards. The reporters covering him think he's a phony (they're right), he's quite limited money-wise, and he got beat in the state most friendly to him. Unless he pulls off a Bill Clinton-like overcoming expectations in NH, it looks like he's done. He can go back to railing about corporate greed from his new $30 million mansion (with private gym!).
* Romney appears to have to beat McCain in NH to have a chance.