Friday, January 04, 2008

Iowa, May It Rest in Peace

Nearly a month ago I predicted that Hillary Clinton would come in third in the Iowa Primary. It was not an act of genius. (Although I am smarter than almost all of the so called political strategists who appear on cable shows and who say things like “Well, Hillary needs to tell people who she is” – I heard that one yesterday. Duh). Anyway, it doesn’t take any extraordinary talent to talk to people across the country (yes you do have to know people across the country, and you do have to care and listen to what they say) but from those 20 or 30 conversations (yes my poll was more anecdotal than analytical and far more telling), I knew that people felt that experience was what got us into the war, why politicians are evil, why real people can't pay for health insurance and kids are denied an education not dependent on getting "left behind". They are angry at the Democrats in Congress who they perceive as having done nothing over the last two years. They voted to change the Congress and had expectations that with the Democrats in charge things would be different or better – which they are not. Everything is pretty much the same. And you can blame the rules, the complexity of making things work, Joe Lieberman, whatever – but Newt Gingrich kicked ass when they tookover with their ‘Contract with America’. It was not my kind of change and I would have preferred a coup (maybe it was), but things certainly changed.

Most of my friends, and they are of both parties, don’t care that the ‘surge’ is working. There should never have been troops in Iraq that needed to be surged. They want our troops to come home. They want oil prices down, health costs affordable, not to have to make a choice between medication and feeding their kids. They want a government that helps them take care of an elderly loved one. They don’t think the economy is in such great shape—they are struggling to keep their homes and pay their mortgage. And yes, some of them did over extend themselves financially, but they wanted to pay for college for their kids as well as maybe go out to a movie or dinner on occasion.

Politicians who campaign using words like ‘experience,’ and then make a list of all the things they intend to do, (but never did), or who come 180 degrees around on issues, (this being part of their learning experience (yes every experience counts) or who think that they can modify their positions based on polls, must think the public is na├»ve or even stupid. People want change and they want to feel hopeful. Sure, we can use any words we want and have our rhetoric considered religious or flowery, or now we are using words like genuine or authentic, but meanings are in people—not in words. When a politician talks to a voter they have an agenda—to get elected. When a voter listens to the political schpiel, they also have an agenda – to find a way to make their lives better. What happened in Iowa was that the voters felt neither hopeful not authentic about Clinton (one on one). They liked Edwards – probably Elizabeth more than John – but they are not sure he’s an agent for change.

The Republican vote is easy to understand in the same way. They felt that Willard (Mitt –think about what we could do with that in a counter events operation) was neither reliable or trustworthy, and they felt that old “Law and Order” Fred should be given another chance.

People don’t know much about Mike or Obama, but these two genuinely authentic, good speakers made them feel hopeful and that the likelihood for change is a possibility. All this may be different in NH. It is a Primary not a Caucus so there will be less personal interaction among voters (if you saw the CSpan live cam from the a Des Moines caucus site, you will appreciate how fascinating the voter / voter interaction was) – though they’ll still have the candidates to look over. And people who are infirmed or in the military will be able to vote as absentee, but do we all think that voters in New Hampshire have different priorities than voters in Iowa? They may, but based on my anecdotal survey of mostly women, who we agree are varied and complex, women have similar priorities that usually revolve around issues that concern their families—including economic opportunity, health, education, and safety. This last category is especially important because here we not only deal with international concerns like the war and non-state terrorism, we talk about internet predators, abusive spouses, and safe toys and food. As a matter of fact, I could make a pretty good case for all issues revolving around safety and I might suggest that this is not a bad place for a candidate to start if they are looking to be seen as real or valid with a skeptical voting public.

Interest in the election is at an all time high. This is a very positive turn of events. It is always better when more people feel that voting is their civic duty and can help to make for a better country. The caveat is that Iowa and New Hampshire are small states where the vote is often based on personal contact with the candidates. Because of the number (that National Primary was a terrible mistake), and size of the states participating in the electoral process after the 29th (when Guiliani rears his ugly face --and I mean that in the kindest possible way), people may lose interest and once again, a total of 73 people will elect the ‘leader’ (oh if only it were true), of this great nation. We’re just sayin… Iris


Anonymous said...

You want to stop Osama bin Muhammad bin 'Awad bin Laden?

It's simple!

Make sure our next president's name is Barack Hussein Obama

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

The Middle East won't know what to do with the Great Satan. Grin.


Stupid Photographer said...

Why is everyone in the press, including you, ignoring Ron Paul? Found only one mention of him in this entire blog. Says: "Ron Paul — who all the others treat with disdain." Stupid question, but why is that?

Anonymous said...

Madeleine Allbright on the podium next to Hillary? What were they thinking? If anything says "Campaign Malfunction" that is it. Put her in a lockbox, a brains trust. Take her shopping.But get her out of view. Get Chelsea. Anyone under fifty..And please: Fire your current handlers for they know not what they do.
I too predicted the Iowa result and perhaps the so- called "also rans" votes helped to give Obama the victory. The media spin on Iowa is ludicrous.Its as though Obama has won the nomination. But the media want something and someone new to write about.The corollary of that: they are hell bent on burying Hillary.Their spin is nothing short of mean and reflexive and their quest seems to have become a national campaign. They want new, sexy and someone who has a "story".The electorate loves a story.Maybe I am just old, and jaded and cynical but I need to see more of Mr.New before I am convinced. In the meantime I am off to New Hampshire to photograph and campaign for Hillary.. Yes..Hillary. Along with Representative.Barney Frank.No. He is not for Obama in this round. Perhaps we should ask him why?

Anonymous said...

PS:The "you" in the "Perhaps you should ask Barney Frank" was meant in the sense of a collective "you", not you personally!

Unknown said...

I could not be happier with the Ohio results, although an Edwards win would have pleased me too. I am not a Hillary fan and the whole wahoo about her just bewilders me. I was involved, in a minor but important way, in the '93 health care debate. She screwed it up so badly that we were set back more than one decade already. I have believed in a national health care plan of some sort for more than 30 years. She and her husband did not convince me of the need--they just convinced me that they are not, to use a phrase I hate, "agents of change," at least in health care. They kissed up in their plan in every way possible to the insurance companies, just for one example. All her blabber about her experience drives me nuts. I give her credit for being elected to the U. S. Senate, just as I do Barack Obama and John Edwards for the same accomplishments. Her foreign trips as "First Lady" do not impress me. I very much want a woman president, just not this one.

Unknown said...

Ahem. Make that the "Iowa" results.

Anonymous said...

Hillary aside. Massachusetts elected a brilliant, impassioned and "authentic" candidate for Governor.After all, everyone had had it with Mitt. Obama did alot in that campaign to support Deval Patrick and I photographed some of the fund raisers and rallies. I was more impressed by Patrick: his maturity, the substance of his speeches, his masterful handling of challenging questions, than I have been by anything I have seen of Barak Obama- see esp. Saturday's debate.Now we have a governor who, after a year in office, is nothing short of disappointing and I am not sure whether I will work for him him if he runs again.What we have is a glaring disconnect between the campaign and the Governorship, especially in terms of the naivete with which Patrick has dealt with the legislature. Or rather, not dealt with it. What do we know about Barak Obama? What I am finding out about his record is inconclusive. Perhaps this matters not, for it is urgent that we stem the tide of Republican devastation no matter who does it.I agree that people want change. But this election is also about the cult of personality. After all, who can bear the issues anymore?
I can only hope that this will not be another Patrick moment for the Democrats.

Iris&David said...

Is it possible that everyone is right. I am going to write about more stuff but it is impossible not to notice that if Hillary wants to be the agent of change then people like Ann Lewis (who I love and respect but who is even older than me) cn't be the face of the campaign. If you need areason not to vote for Hillary just look at her campaign chair--Terry McCauliff-- he doesn't even know how to make change for a dollar!

Anonymous said...

I will be in South Africa until after the primaries and will have to see it unfold from a distance via CNN world and NY Times online, for there will be scant coverage there. They have enough tsoris with their own potential president.
The South Africans think The U. S system is nuts and fail to understand the hooplah, never mind the money (how could they possibly?). It took me five years here to really get it. Don't really agree with you about why people voted Hillary in the end and today Maureen Dowd took a cheap tabloid shot. The sympathy vote may be part of it but from my late canvassing I don't think it is that simple.They had a great ground organization and in Salem at least,they called it correctly all along. Still an Obama skeptic despite three rallies...