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9 years 46 weeks ago

January 3, 2008

23:54

Richard Viguerie is one of the architects of the conservative movement, pioneering the use of direct mail to raise money and rally the troops. He's the first in what will be many conservatives to trash Huckabee. From Viguerie's email list:

Mike Huckabee's victory in the Iowa caucuses is bad news for the Republican Party.

"Mike Huckabee is a Christian socialist. He is a good man, but with a Big Government heart. He is the most liberal of all the Republican presidential candidates on economic issues.

"Huckabee's approach to every problem or perceived problem is to pass a law and launch another government program. If you like President George W. Bush, you'll love Mike Huckabee.

"If, on the other hand, you're a limited government conservative in the grand tradition of Robert A. Taft, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan, you will want to redouble your efforts to make sure Huckabee doesn't win the Republican nomination. Four years of a Huckabee presidency would ensure that there wouldn't be a penny's worth of differences between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party on economic issues.

"Much has been made of Mike Huckabee's strong stance on social issues. In the 1970s, we conservatives had two legs on our stool—economic responsibility and a strong national defense—but that wasn't enough to win many elections. It wasn't until we added the third leg to our stool—social issues—that conservatives were able to win elections consistently.

"Now Huckabee wants to go back to a two-legged stool—social issues and defense. He would saw off the economic leg. That's a recipe for disaster for the Republican Party. Economic and traditional conservatives would stay home in droves, turning the country over to the Democrats.

"Conservatives in New Hampshire and the other early primary states had better wake up, and make certain the Huckabee victory is confined to the subsidized ethanol fields of Iowa."

Note that the CHAIRMAN of the Republican Party refused to mention Huckabee's name when commenting on the race. It'll get ugly. As I wrote a few weeks ago:

Huckabee isn't a corporate con -- he isn't even a millionaire! -- and he certainly isn't a neocon. His foreign policy would actually be predicated on liberal ideals of respect, trust and cooperation -- poison to those who get their foreign policy from Soldier of Fortune magazine T-shirt ads: "kill 'em all and let god sort them out".

He's a theocon, the very people who empowered the corporate cons and neocons the past two decades by their tireless on-the-ground activism while the others kept their fingernails clean in their Wall Street and think tank corner offices. Now that the theocons are threatening to take ther turn at the helm of the GOP, it's amusing how the rest of the -cons in the GOP are suddenly less than thrilled and willing to play ball.

What was already a steady campaign against Huckabee is about to become a full-throated assault. And the theocons will ultimately realize what the rest of the party thinks about them. They are supposed to be cannon fodder. Nothing more.

Categories: Politics
23:23

Ezra:

Barack Obama won tonight, but, in a sense, John Edwards' campaign also triumphed. The progressivism of the race, the focus on ideas, the courage of the Democrats -- all were products of his early example. He began the campaign by talking about poverty, announced his candidacy in the mud of New Orleans, set the agenda with the first universal health care bill, and closed Iowa speaking of the uninsured. This is Barack Obama's victory, and it's richly deserved. But Edwards, running as a full-throated populist, set the agenda and finished second, ahead of the Clinton juggernaut. He said his role was to speak for the voiceless. He now barrels towards New Hampshire with ever more volume. And while his shot at the nomination is long at best, his candidacy, even if it fails, will have been far more successful than most.

I have to admit a bit of sentimentality. I loved all the speeches tonight -- from Edwards', to Clintons', to Obama's. I'm proud of my party. I'm hopeful for the future.

In a week, I may get cynical again as a few lonesome Democrats, led by Chris Dodd, fight another impossible battle against a terrible FISA bill. We'll see Harry Reid, the rest of our party's leadership, and many Democrats with them sell out key progressive principles out of terror that Mr. 24% will say "boo!" They'll sell out our troops in Iraq, lard up on pork, and forget the promises that gave them their Congressional majorities in the first place. What do they care? Republicans are so pathetic, that even an ineffective Democratic Party will run roughshod over them.

Sigh. The cynicism will return.

But tonight, seeing what transpired in Iowa, I can't help but be hopeful for our party's long-term future. The youth vote is turning out big, and turning out for us. Independents have had enough of Republicans and are trending our way. The center is moving leftward for the first time in a generation.

This was never a short-term project. It's always been a long-term challenge. And we'll have many disappointments along the way. But tonight, I got a glimpse of the promised land, and it's a place I want to reach.

Categories: Politics
23:18

(Tonight's selections are brought to you courtesy of the Rescue Rangers. SusanG)

This evening's Rescue Rangers are Avila (mentoring Louisiana 1976), taylormattd, watercarrier4diogenes, jlms qkw, TruthofAngels, Got a Grip and Shayera, with jennyjem as editor.

Tonight, these diarists have toiled and perfected worthy works for your reading pleasure. Didn't they know there was a Caucus on?! Enjoy while you're pondering the results.

emeraldmaiden has Top Comments 1-3-08 - All Eyes on Iowa.

Enjoy and please promote your own favorite diaries in this open thread.

Categories: Politics
22:54

Sniff -- Chris Dodd is dropping out. My biggest admiration to him, and I look forward to supporting his efforts to stop the bad FISA bill in the Senate later this month.

On the GOP side, Thompson is back in third.

Good Guys:

1,781 of 1,781 districts reporting

Obama       37.58
Edwards     29.75
Clinton     29.47
Richardson   2.11
Biden        0.93
Uncommitted  0.14
Dodd         0.02

Bad guys:

1,546 of 1,781 districts reporting

Huckabee      34
Romney        25
Thomspon      13
McCain        13
Paul          10
Giuliani       3

Categories: Politics
22:51

Umm, why doesn't he Huckabee have his wife behind him for his celebratory speech? I know Chuck Norris is important to his campaign, but really, shouldn't his own wife have trumped Chuck Norris' wife?

Or did the "hot plastic blonde" get dibs on prime TV real estate.

Categories: Politics
22:27

Wolfie interviewed RNC Chair Mike Duncan about Mike Huckabee's decisive victory in Iowa.  I've reprinted a CNN rush transcript in full below.  Note the name that the figurehead of the Republican Establishment dare not speak in an interview on the night of the critical Iowa caucus:

BLITZER: Mike Duncan is joining us right now from Republican headquarters. Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming us. What do you think about this? CNN projecting Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, will win the Iowa caucuses.

MIKE DUNCAN, RNC CHAIRMAN: Good to be with you this evening, Wolf, and I'm very pleased to get this campaign off to a great start. I congratulate all the candidates on both sides and the people of Iowa for doing a great job today.  Wolf, my job is not to be an analyst. My job is to be a -- someone who does strategy for the party, and to prepare for the candidates coming forward. And we've been doing that. We have raised $83 million here at the RNC. I have $17 million cash on hand, and I'm ready for the Democrats.

BLITZER: You can't obviously have any favorites right now as chairman of the RNC. You love all of these Republicans. But give us a little sense of what Mike Huckabee means to the Republican Party.

DUNCAN: Well, Wolf, let me talk about what the Democrats are doing and why we're going to win this fall. We're going to win because we're putting forward our ideas. The Democrats are putting forward old ideas of more government, larger government, more taxes, less responsibility. And our candidates are talking about lower taxes, individual responsibility, and a strong national defense. That's going to be the difference. And it's going to be a difference with -- if it's Hillary Clinton on their side, it is going to be a difference about trust; if it's Barack Obama, its' going to be a difference about experience; and if it's John Edwards, it's going to be hypocrisy.

BLITZER: What do you think, Mr. Duncan, as the chairman of the party, when you see these Republicans bitterly going after each other, trying to attack each other on their views, whether Romney going after Huckabee or vice versa, or Romney going after John McCain or vice versa. How do you react as someone who would like to see all these Republicans basically on the same page?

DUNCAN: Well, Wolf, I have a front row seat to history, and as you know, I don't comment about our candidates. I will say that our candidates are talking about the issues that will resonate with the American people. They are talking about lower taxes and less government. They are talking about individual responsibility, and they are talking about a strong national defense. And what we're hearing on the other side is a real contrast.

BLITZER: So basically what you're saying is that all of the Republicans are great and all of them would be much better than any of the Democrats. We would hear Howard Dean, the Democratic Party chairman, say obviously exactly the opposite. But give us a little flavor right now. You've become the minority in the House of Representatives, you've become the minority in the Senate. And, at least the polls show that generically, the Democrats are favored to recapture the White House. If you lose the House, you lose the Senate and you lose the White House, that's a huge setback for your party.

DUNCAN: Well, Wolf, you're talking in 2006 terms. A lots of things happened in 2007. If you have not noticed, the momentum is going with us. We won two out of three governors races; we won two out of three special congressional races this last year. We raised over $30 million more than the Democrat National Committee raised, and the recent polls have indicated that we have closed the gap, the generic gap on people who self-identify as Republicans. We took that from 7 to 2 percent right now. The Republicans are on a roll. I'm very optimistic about us winning the White House and winning back more congressional seats in 2008.

BLITZER: Are you ready to predict that the Republicans will be the majority in the House and the Senate once again, or are you just going to pick up some seats?

DUNCAN: Well, we'll talk about that. As I said, I'm not an analyst. I'm someone who puts the pieces together that helps make it possible later on. And I feel very good about our position right now.

BLITZER: Mike Duncan is the chairman of the Republican Party. Thanks very much for coming in. Good luck to you, good luck to all of the political leaders out there.

Huckabee delenda est.

Categories: Politics
22:14

Gasbag Bill Bennett, from a rush transcript sent via email:

COOPER: Let's go check in with our political contributors. Bill Bennett, does this change the game a lot?

BENNETT: Well, I think it's, again, a wonder of America here. A remarkable breakthrough this year.

As the other group said, 97 percent, in fact, Iowa rural, white, farming -- farming state. Barack Hussein Obama, a black man, wins this for the Democrats.

I have been watching him. I watched him on "Meet the Press," I've watched him on your show, watched him on all the CNN shows -- he never brings race into it. He never plays the race card.

Talk about the black community -- he has taught the black community you don't have to act like Jesse Jackson, you don't have to act like Al Sharpton.

You can talk about the issues. Great dignity. And this is a breakthrough.

Categories: Politics
22:12

Good Guys:

1,728 of 1,781 districts reporting

Obama       37.52
Edwards     29.87
Clinton     29.41
Richardson   2.10
Biden        0.94
Uncommitted  0.13
Dodd         0.02

Bad guys:

1,393 of 1,781 districts reporting

Huckabee      34
Romney        25
Thomspon      13
McCain        13
Paul          10
Giuliani       4

There's only 180 votes between McCain and Thompson. That battle for third will have huge repercussions to how this thing shakes out on the GOP side.

Regarding turnout, Republicans got 108,000, while Democrats are at 218,000 and still counting -- 6.5 percent of precincts haven't reported.

Categories: Politics
21:46

I'm sorry, but could someone get Chris Matthews to shut the hell up already? There's a difference between having weird opinions and just being a dumbass, and he crossed that line a while ago. All freaking night he's been bloviating about how much Hillary is damaged by having "two thirds of the Democrats" voting against her.

What the hell? Two thirds are also against Edwards, and two thirds are against Obama. That's what a three-person race flippin' means. But he's making a big point of this being a woman thing, about how Clinton is a woman. Jesus.

And then he turns around and admires the manly manchunk, John McCain, for ekeing out what seems to be a statistical tie with nutcase Ron Paul, twenty points behind the leader -- and opines on how much that might "help" him. Give me a break...

This wasn't a one-time thing, as mentioned earlier tonight by Atrios. He's now been pushing these two themes all freaking night. It's like a dog with a bone -- he found it, he likes it, and he's not going to let it go.

A 12% showing is only a "win" for McCain in a universe in which the punditry is deeply invested in propping his failing ass up -- but coupling that with the constant pooh-poohing of Hillary, "a woman", makes the whole thing so transparent as to be insulting.

Please, shut the hell up already. Go to a homeopathic headache remedy commercial, for God's sake. Start interviewing caucus-goers in futile attempts to pretend you give a damn about what any of them have to say. Anything. But the transparent spin -- which was predicated and declared before the first votes were ever cast, tonight, and continued regardless of results all through the night -- is nothing more than a demonstration of the shallow buffoonery of the entire "punditry" process. He's not interested in the actual results, he's only interested in framing the night around predetermined opinions of the two candidates he is obsessed with.

Good God. Forty nine states to go, and it's already an embarrassment to watch.

Categories: Politics
21:45

Good Guys:

1,716 of 1,781 districts reporting

Obama       37.51
Edwards     29.89
Clinton     29.41
Richardson   2.09
Biden        0.93
Uncommitted  0.14
Dodd         0.02

Bad guys:

1,393 of 1,781 districts reporting

Huckabee      34
Romney        25
McCain        13
Thomspon      13
Paul          10
Giuliani       4

Funny how these pundits are just aching for a McCain third-place finish. Even though he's just a few hundred votes behind Thompson, the optics of coming in fourth are much worse. And we may see Thompson heartened by his "surprising" third-place finish and decide to stay in the race.

Most of the rumors had Thompson dropping out and endorsing McCain. Denied that, McCain doesn't get that (even small) boost. And with Obama winning, New Hampshire independents may decide to cast their lot with him, depriving McCain of their support.

Update: McCain takes the third slot, by 36 votes.

Categories: Politics
21:28

The youth turnout  numbers are stellar, and it looks like the Democratic caucuses got double the turnout that Republican ones did. This all bodes well for the future, and at the end of the day, I'm damned proud of all of our candidates.

Now I'm rooting for Edwards to hang on to second place.

Good guys:

1,507 of 1,781 districts reporting

Obama       36.70
Edwards     30.19
Clinton     30.03
Richardson   2.02
Biden        0.93
Uncommitted  0.11
Dodd         0.03

Bad guys:

1,160 of 1,781 districts reporting

Huckabee      34
Romney        25
Thomspon      14
McCain        13
Paul          10
Giuliani       4

Categories: Politics
21:12

Good guys:

1,262 of 1,781 districts reporting

Obama       35.06
Edwards     31.19
Clinton     30.87
Richardson   1.78
Biden        0.97
Uncommitted  0.11
Dodd         0.03

Bad guys:

730 of 1,781 districts reporting

Huckabee      31
Romney        23
Thomspon      13
McCain        12
Giuliani       11
Paul          10

57 percent of Obama's support is 17-29. It's awesome to see younger voters turning out. That's got to be the GOP's worst nightmare.

Update: And hearing the spinsters, McCain still won, even if he stays back in fourth! Yeay!

Update II: Hearing McCain concede, he notes that he didn't have any money to run ads in Iowa. This isn't the kind of finish that will help raise the big bucks necessary to compete in later states. But not to worry, Tweety and Co. are doing their best to prop him up!

Categories: Politics
21:00

Good guys:

809 of 1,781 districts reporting

Obama       33.65
Edwards     31.99
Clinton     31.63
Richardson   1.69
Biden        0.94
Dodd         0.05
Uncommitted  0.04

Bad guys:

450 of 1,781 districts reporting

Huckabee      35
Romney        24
Thomspon      14
McCain        12
Paul          11
Giuliani       4


Update: CNN has called it for Huckabee.

Categories: Politics
20:41

We'll probably go through a few of these tonight, huh?

486 of 1,781 districts reporting

Edwards    32.53
Obama      32.47
Clinton    32.25
Richardson  1.85
Biden       0.76
Dodd        0.10
Uncommitted 0.03

Source: Iowa Democratic Party

Update: Kudos to the Iowa Democratic Party. Their site is kicking ass, smooth, updating quickly with no hangups or lag. The Iowa Republican Party website has crashed. Incompetent, as usual.

Categories: Politics
20:23

I don't know why results are coming in so early, but we've got 'em:

191 of 1,781 districts reporting

Edwards    33.38
Clinton    32.40
Obama      30.76
Richardson  2.03
Biden       1.16
Dodd        0.15
Uncommitted 0.12

Source: Iowa Democratic Party

Update: Rural precincts are small and are quick to report. You have to think this is Edwards territory, so the fact Obama and Clinton are running as well in those precincts bodes ill for Edwards.

Categories: Politics
20:03

Olbermann reports that "early entrance polls" show Huckabee and Romney leading their race, and Clinton and Obama leading theirs. Not in that order.

Update: ENTRANCE polls, people. There are no exit polls in a caucus. There are the entrance numbers, and those will change as candidates become non-viable and their supporters shift to their second choices.

Update II: Oops, I had the headline screwed up. No wonder people were confused. I'm an idiot.

Categories: Politics
19:47

The media has earned a great deal of scorn because they forgot a long time ago that they're supposed to report, not shape news events by injecting their biases into their reporting.

Hillary stepped onto the parked press bus in Indianola for about 90 seconds to deliver bagels and coffee, and I'm not sure what this says about Clinton and the press — the chill, I think, comes from both sides — but it was a strange moment. She expressed her sympathies that we're away from our families and "significant others," tried a joke at the expense of her press secretary, and paused. Nobody even shouted a question, whether because of the surprise, the assumption that she wouldn't actually answer, or the sheer desire to end the encounter.

One reporter compared the awkwardness to running unexpectedly into an ex-girlfriend.

"Maybe we should go outside and warm up," said another, as Clinton exited into the freezing air.

What is this, fucking Heathers? Did these reporters ever graduate high school, or do they think they're now cool because they get to sniff at Hillary Clinton instead of doing their goddam jobs?

The worst part of a Hillary nomination? The re-ascendency of the Mark Penns and Terry McAuliffes of the Democratic Party. The best part? A big middle finger in the face of a media that has truly forgotten their proper role in the process. And they'd be so abjectly ridiculous if Hillary won that they would single-handedly unite us in fierce solidarity with Hillary -- a herculean task under any other circumstances.

Categories: Politics
19:32

Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

Huckabee's Attack Ad Runs After All

His attack ad appears on three Iowa stations. We find it somewhat misleading. Another ad makes misleading claims about tax cuts.

Summary

The ad Huckabee said he decided not to run has now appeared at least three times in Iowa anyway. It accuses Romney of being "dishonest" but shades the facts in the process.

In another ad Huckabee claims to have signed the most broad-based tax cut in Arkansas history. But as we've noted repeatedly, he signed bigger tax increases than cuts.

Categories: Politics
18:50

If you want to be taken seriously as a political analyst, you shouldn't make predictions.  But sometimes, you just can't help it, and you want to make a prediction.  Today is one of those times.  I have a very slight hunch that Obama will win tonight, but that's based mostly on press reports, and just a sense that in the end the "change" candidate will prevail.  I'm making no predictions about tonight's result, however, because I could see Clinton, Edwards and Obama finishing in any order.  But that got me thinking, how might the order of finish tonight shape the rest of the race for the nomination?

I suspect that whoever finishes third is done.  Edwards' message isn't as suited to New Hampshire as most other states, so it would be difficult for him to stage a comeback there from a third-place finish in Iowa.  And finishing third in both the first two states would probably doom him.  If Clinton finishes third the inevitability thing will have completely exploded and I doubt she would win NH, and then she would probably also lose South Carolina.  If Obama finishes third, Edwards becomes the anti-Hillary, Edwards would probably finish second to Clinton in NH, and finishing third in both the first two contests is almost certainly lethal.  

Here are the scenarios as I see them (possible order of finish tonight):

  1. Edwards
  1. Clinton
  1. Obama

Clinton survives, probably wins NH, and quite possibly wins the nomination; Edwards would need an influx of money and probably a good showing in the only state he won in 2004, South Carolina.  

  1. Clinton
  1. Edwards
  1. Obama

Clinton probably wins the nomination, maybe even runs the table, winning every state.  In the absences of a major development, probably requiring a lethal error by Clinton, Edwards won't have the resources to knock her out on Super Tuesday.

  1. Clinton
  1. Obama
  1. Edwards

Edwards is done, Obama has to win or fight to a very close second in NH (which might depend on whether independents vote on the Dem side for him or on the Republican side for McCain), and then he probably has to win SC.  If he doesn't even things out by South Carolina, Clinton is the nominee

  1. Obama
  1. Clinton
  1. Edwards

It all comes down to NH.  If Clinton wins NH, she survives and Super Tuesday probably decides the nomination.  If Obama wins both of the first two contests, he's the nominee

  1. Obama
  1. Edwards
  1. Clinton

OR

  1. Edwards
  1. Obama
  1. Clinton

From a pure horserace view, this is the most fun set of scenarios, because they lead to the most uncertain result.  I suspect Obama would get most of Clinton's African-American  support, but I think it becomes a fairly wide-open contest, with the starkest contrast in messages and agendas.  Obama would have a big edge in financial resources, but endorsements by people with lots of operatives and good lists, like mayors and governors, would be crucial, because they can activate GOTV networks that won't be created in the month between now and Super Tuesday.  Also, labor endorsements would matter a lot, because even Obama wouldn't be able to spend massive amounts of money on paid media in that many states.  Edwards has four international unions, Obama has none; would labor stay out of the race, or would they sense an opportunity for them to provide the decisive support to a candidate, thus making him even more beholden to them for their support in securing the nomination?  I think it could lean slightly Obama, but in that pairing, Edwards just might win it.

Lots of things could shake up these scenarios;  just remember how high McCain was riding in 2000 after New Hampshire, and how he was done in by dirty tricks and his own miscues in South Carolina.  But as of today, a couple hours before the caucuses begin, these seem to me the most plausible scenarios.

Of course, by tomorrow, everything could be different.  

Categories: Politics
18:35

So it's 2008 and tonight the voting starts to elect a new president. But it might as well be 2004, or 2005, 2006, or 2007 in Iraq.

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Three US soldiers have been killed in Iraq, the US military announced on Thursday, making them the first American casualties of the new year....

[And lest we forget]...The year 2007, however, proved the deadliest year for the US military since the invasion, with at least 896 soldiers killed.

Condolences for the families of those three soldiers, and for the 896 who start the new year bereft. And for all of the 3,907 families who will have a hole in their lives for as long as they live.

Unfortunately, we've  pretty much passed the point that this Congress can effectively do anything to end the Iraq debacle. Bush got his wish, and the war won't end on his watch. But the next president must end it, and it has to be our job to make that happen.

So whoever emerges victorious from the next few weeks of voting, you're on notice. Iraq still matters. And those 3,907 lives matter. The life of every single soldier who manages to make it home matters, more than anything else.

Categories: Politics