Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Fat Tuesday and Dueling Kennedys: No Closure Yet

In some sort of strange cosmic convergence, Fat Tuesday and Super Duper Nuclear Tuesday fell on the same day. Add to that the surprise Super Bowl victory of the underdog New York Giants and their Manhattan ticker tape parade on the same day, and there were a fair amount of people not even sober on February 5th. However, time marches on, 24 state primaries and caucuses were held, and turnout was gratifyingly high. Alas, for those of you looking for closure, however, this was not to be the day.

As predicted, the battle for the Democratic primary is far from over. While Hillary Clinton won the big prizes -- New York, California -- Barack Obama won more states overall (13 to Clinton's 8; New Mexico at this writing was too close to call.) In political speak, this she did/he did stuff simply means the spin doctors from both camps can claim "victory." Clinton leads in the delegate count, but it's close. Clinton's 2 to 1 edge in superdelegates could loom large here... but there are still enough superdelegates left uncommitted to keep us on the edge of our seats. Obama did well enough on Super Tuesday -- including winning a squeaker in Missouri that was at first called for Hillary -- to perhaps move some of those uncommitted members of Congress and Govenors and DNC dignataries off the endorsement dime. However, Hillary also did well enough to at least in part stem the Obama tide that seemed to be rising over the past week -- meaning that the Big Mo is no longer as sqarely in his camp, and thus might keep those waffling superdelegates waffling a while longer.

At the end of the day, the much vaunted and various Kennedy clan endorsements did not seem to make as much of a difference as they did for headlines and juicy gossip. Obama is running ad's with flashes of Camelot and JFK's kid, Caroline. He's also been campaigning with JFK's brother, Teddy, in the senator's home state of Massachusetts and elsewhere; but Hillary carried the Mayflower state. Kennedy Cousin Maria Shriver came fresh from her kid's riding lesson (how Kennedy-esque!), unplanned and sans makeup, to endorse Obama at a rally with pal Oprah (they started in Baltimore broadcasting together). But Hillary carried California -- perhaps with the help of the son of Ceasar Chavez (60 percent of the kids in CA schools are Latino). RFK's kids -- RFK, Jr., former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleeen Kennedy Townsend -- are in Hillary's camp, and Hillary had her own retrospective add using RFK, Jr. and flashes of Bobby. We'll see how that bit of nostalgia plays in next week's Potomac primaries in DC, Marlyand and Virginia -- where apparently outraged voters were calling state offices wanting to know why their polling places weren't open on Super Tuesday. I like the enthusiasm even if the aim was a little off. Here's hoping they show up next week too.

Speaking as a resident of our nation's capital -- the land of the great disenfranchised, of taxation without representation, where we have monuments to our great democracy but no application of federalized democracy for city residents -- where we have one non-voting Delegate to the House of Representatives and absolutely no senators whatsoever, it's very sweet to have our votes actually mean something -- but that's another rant, and another blog.

Meanwhile, Republicans are still proportioning out their affections in a fairly miserly fashion. Fat Tuesday's results gave new life to Mike Huckabee, and pissed off Mitt Romney (back to the bank account, Mitt). Actually, for Huckabee, his showing in the South pretty much put him front and center in the VEEP sweepstakes for plurality winner John McCain, who appears to be the metroliner candidate -- carrying the northeast corridor with ease. However, when it comes to the Bible Belt, McCain's not fashionable -- even if it is Fashion Week. Preacher Huckabee could be just the accessory McCain needs to appeal to disgruntled evangelicals -- perhaps together, they can take on the history making, record-turnout producing, change-making machine of the Democrats. No rest for the wicked --the political strategists are huddling even now, plotting their next moves.

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