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January 10, 2008

It Was Fun to Think Obama Had Won, But Hillary’s Not Dead Yet


Well, at least Barack Obama got a good slogan out of it.


After five days in which the entire nation seemed under the impression that Obama had sewn up the Democratic nomination and ended the Clinton years as a result, Hillary Clinton put a quick end to that by actually winning in New Hampshire, outsmarting both the polls and the pundits in the process. Despite polls throughout the week that put Obama in the lead by as much as 12 points, Hillary held the lead throughout the night, and pulled off a narrow victory.


Obama, meanwhile, managed to deliver a memorable concession speech that included the public introduction of the slogan “Yes, we can,” which he’d been using for a few days already but not yet in a major speech. Most victories aren’t as big as Obama’s in Iowa was, but the junior senator from Illinois will have to make do with small ones for awhile. Until Nevada, anyway.


The roller coaster of the past week illustrates just how ridiculous our whole presidential nominating system is, as is the media coverage thereof. The result in one hardly populated state is treated as a political earthquake of epic proportions, while the opposite result, just a few days later, is treated as an equally devastating shift in the other direction. No one at any point seemed to consider that a primary is just a primary, and the race is clearly very far from over.


Still though, that brief window in which Obama was talked about as the presumptive nominee and Hillary as an also-ran sure was a fascinating one, with the Drudge Report even going so far as to publish speculation about Sen. Clinton dropping out of the race. There will be no dropping out for the foreseeable future, aside from Bill Richardson.


Those of us who are attracted to the Obama candidacy, especially the non-boomers among us, got a glimpse of the future during those five days. Those of us who back Obama may not necessarily despise Hillary Clinton, but we’re sick of the constant rehashing of the arguments of the 1960s which, in the event of a Hillary nomination, will certainly be coupled with a constant rehashing of the arguments of the 1990s as well.


Is anyone really looking forward to 10 months of that? Wouldn’t you prefer someone with a style all his own, who is more interested in talking about the future than the past?


Regardless, Sen. Clinton was able to show that she’s still the frontrunner, and exit polls attributed the bounce-back to a dominating performance among women, as well as older voters. The election is by no means over, but Hillaryland has a new lease on life – and there will be no more drop-out talk for her anytime soon.


Who’s the second-happiest person about the non-death of Hillary’s presidential bid? Probably Dick Morris, the professional Hillary-hater who has written multiple books about the Senator, and is even readying a documentary called “Hillary: the Movie.” One has to think that a Hillary loss would have the same effect on Dick that the fall of communism had on Yakov Smirnoff – sure, it’s good news for him ideologically, but it also means the end of his career.


The primary was just an odd night all around, from John McCain following up his win with the one of the most boring, doddering speeches of his career, to someone at Mike Huckabee’s celebration holding up a sign, more than once, that completely blocked the camera’s view of the candidate, in the manner of a solar eclipse. (I kept expecting Bill O’Reilly to run out and shove the guy.) And I’m still wondering about that ever-present beeping sound throughout MSNBC’s coverage – I kept thinking my smoke alarm was going off.


It sure was a fun five days, when it looked like Obama had already won. So much so, I’d like to see pick it up again later this spring.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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