Mansfield Fox

Law student. Yankees fan. Massive fraggle. Just living the American dream.

Monday, January 19, 2004

QUICK IOWA THOUGHTS Dick Gephardt's run is over. But we all knew that. He's basically been going through the motions for months, hoping that organization would propel him to an Iowa win, which would slingshot him into competitiveness elsewhere in the country. i.e., he was hoping against hope. And now he's done. He had a great career, and in an alternate universe in which Bush won in '92, he might've been the nominee in '96. But not in this universe, I'm afraid.

Dean is obviously a loser, but how big a loser is difficult to project. He's still got a ton of money and (apparently) pretty good national organization, so he can keep the fight going. On the other hand, no small amount of his national support may I suspect have been based on the idea of Dean's inevitability. Once that bubble is popped, can he continue? He's obviously not going to drop out, but is his fate now to soldier on and get 15-20% in every subsequent primary? And (bonus question): if Dean's not the nominee, will his core voters show up to the polls in November? And will they vote Democrat, or Green?

I love John Edwards. (no seriously, I love John Edwards. see below.) He's obviously a big winner here today. His big worry, I imagine, has got to be: if Kerry wins in Iowa, and follows up with a win in New Hampshire, can Edwards stop his momentum in veteran-heavy South Carolina?

Kerry is tonight's big winner. And the one that makes me look like a big yutz, since only two weeks ago I was trying to figure out how best to make fun of a friend who was working for the Kerry campaign when his candidate dropped out of the race. Obviously I'm still cleaning egg out of my eyebrows. Buuuuut, and this is a big but, I still think Kerry is a lousy candidate, and that this is ultimately going to fizzle somewhere along the line. Maybe it won't be until after he's sown up the nomination, but I just can't see John Kerry not screwing this up somewhere. Remember: a year ago, Kerry was the front-runner. Then he spent a year frittering away his lead, and only recovered it in a last minute push. This wasn't accidental. I can't shake the feeling that Kerry will find a way to blow this somehow.

I strongly suspect that Clark is the #2 loser out of Iowa, trailing only Gephardt. If Kerry's become a viable candidate all of a sudden, then the whole rationale for his campaign is evaporating before our eyes. I always thought of Clark as Kerry mark 2: the same model of politician (electable war-hero insulated on national defense issues by his biography) with some of the initial bugs worked out. It's worth remembering that Clark didn't get rolled off the assembly line until late summer, when the Kerry campaign had (apparently) made it clear that it wasn't up to the task of stopping Dean. But Clark-bot has shown that he isn't exactly bug-free himself (evidenced chiefly by his propensity to say looney things) and all of a sudden Kerry-bot's bugs don't look so bad. So you've got Kerry with the big Mo, coming back to a state neighboring his home, where Clark's numbers have been stalled for a few weeks. I do believe Clark is done.

OK, perhaps these thoughts weren't so quick. Back to studying for contracts! HO!