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Week of 2.10.08

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February 14, 2008, 3:01 P.M.

Recently Dianne and I were talking about the effect of the Super Tuesday elections. By that time, it was apparent that Barack Obama had won most of the states and most of the available delegates. When I say most, I mean a majority, and this outcome brought him just about even in the delegate count with Hillary Clinton. Clinton, of course, maintained an edge in ďsuperdelegates.Ē

This observation is general because I have yet to figure our the difference in methods of calculation used by the media in determining who won what amount of delegates and which particular delegates are to be counted. Suffice it to say, Obama made substantial gains last Tuesday.

In our conversation, I mentioned to Dianne that, in my opinion, Hillary Clinton had to win either Ohio or Texas in order to stay alive in the race. I thought that was a pretty amazing statement, given the huge advantage she seems to have in popularity, organization and fundraising prior to the Iowa caucuses.

As I understand it, James Carville recently made a similar statement with regard to Hillaryís chances in the election. I suspect that if she loses both Ohio and Texas, her superdelegate count will begin to erode and Obamaís advantage in the primary may become insurmountable.

When I was watching the results of the election, I still felt that Hillary Clinton had the edge if she and Obama go into a floor fight at the convention. The Clintons still have tremendous clout with Democratic party officials and a floor fight at the convention would be right up their alley. By continuing to roll up uncommitted delegates, and potentially swaying committed superdelegates, Obama may avoid the fight. If Hillary Clinton holds on and wins either Ohio or Texas, and can pick up a few more delegates before the convention, I think she stands a real chance of an upset. By upset, I mean the nomination against popular opinion.

So why is it that popular opinion is so anti-Hillary? Itís obvious that many Republicans hate her with the same amount of passion that many Democrats hate the current President. She is clearly a divisive figure and the polarizing effect that she tends to have on the political landscape is a serious factor in the consideration of her electability in a race against John McCain.

Another issue that I have had concerns about since I heard she was running is the issue of dynastic politics. The Bush dynasty certainly hasnít done anything positive for our country (at least in the last 8 years) and I donít see the Clinton dynasty moving us any further. I think my concern, based on my observations of Bill Clintonís emergence as a major campaign spokesman, is shared by a lot of people. When Bill stepped up and started assuming a major role in the campaign, Hillary began to get in trouble in terms of popular votes and uncommitted delegates. I think people are also starting to be concerned about the electability of a Democrat against John McCain.

The fact that I havenít been writing a lot leaves me commenting on issues now that I talked about then, but didnít actually write down. John McCain is a perfect example. Despite Huckabeeís showing in the Iowa caucuses, I picked John McCain to win in New Hampshire, and I picked him as the ultimate Republican nominee. I did this understanding that McCain has a problem with the fringe element and religious right wing of the party. All told, the Republicans are going to live with some of John McCainís shortcomings as they are viewed by the right wing of the party, they are going to take the long view towards electability. When all is said and done, Huckabee does not have the political horsepower, the experience, or the understanding of national or international politics necessary to be President of the United States. He is the one credible candidate in this election who appears to me to be less capable of being President than Bush 43.

McCain has his shortcomings, which will certainly be exploited in the general election, but at least he stands a better chance of beating the eventual Democratic nominee than Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani or Mike Huckabee ever had. In fact, there is some polling (for what thatís worth) that suggests that McCain might even have an advantage among some key voters in an election against Hillary Clinton.

There has been a series recently in the Doonesbury comic strip in which some of the characters refer to Barack Obama as the black Kennedy. While I am certainly not buying the premise of Barack Obama stepping into anyoneís legacy, I do have some concerns for his candidacy and, ultimately, for this country. No matter what happens in the Democratic race, history is being made. We will see either a black man or a woman running as the candidate for a major party for President of the United States. I think thatís great. I also think a lot of people are not going to accept it. I fear for the personal safety of both of our candidates.

Itís a sad thing to say, and a sad commentary of our country, but I fear that the closer the election of either Obama or Clinton comes to being a reality, the more some of the less evolved of us will be motivated to violence in support of the status quo. I was pleased when I looked at the original field of Democratic candidates to be able to say that whether we elected Richardson, Clinton, Obama or Edwards, we would be in good hands and in better shape than we are now. With John Edwards out of the race, I am shifting my support to Barack Obama. I believe Obamaís philosophy and positions are most closely aligned with those that I liked in Edwards.

No matter what happens, this is going to be an interesting election cycle, and it has invigorated our political process. Record voter turnouts and informed commentary from ordinary citizens leaves me hopeful that the future of our country will be better than the past 8 years and that we can begin to undo some of the harm that has been done by our current, morally bankrupt and ideologically-challenged government. One can only hope.

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