As Eriposte continues to effectively challenge the netroots and media’s narrative about the Clinton/Obama contest, I wanted to jump back in for a moment with a quick comment about the campaign, and how Hillary has let it almost get away from her.
I said over two months ago, and since, that Hillary had a good reason for running the general election campaign now. It was in her best interest to run against the GOP and the Bush record while avoiding hand-to-hand combat against one or several of her Democratic rivals. Hillary needed to act already like a president-in-waiting, even a shadow presidency. The one thing she needed to avoid at all costs when running against a pack of male rivals was to elevate one of them into a one-on-one race whereby that other candidate immediately gets a head start as the ABH candidate. As long as the ABH vote and energy was diffused and could be portrayed as a pack of guys gunning for the capable and ready-to-assume-office female front runner, she came off well by comparison, especially if she spent her time hammering the GOP record and the loons running for that nomination, and talked of change at home and wisdom overseas.
Instead, she went for the bait that Obama put out there, and gave the media its narrative that this is a two-person race.
The Obama people knew that they could elevate their candidate immediately by goading her into focusing on him solely. They knew that by relying upon the Clintonian desire to destroy all attackers, Obama could prick her initially, wait for her overreaction, count on the media’s desire for a horse race and its predisposition against her, and then see him score points by counterpunching as her perceived sole challenger.
She aims her message at women; he aims his message through Oprah at African Americans, independents, and base voters swayed by the rock star sales job yet unaware of the Liebermanesque tendencies. And cleverly in the background, counting on both of them to bash each other over the next several months is Edwards, now competitive in Iowa using his network and familiarity to campaign as the only real progressive among the top three while the other two lob bombs at each other. Yet things are good nationally, as Democrats are happy and energized with their candidates, and the GOP is a train wreck.
We should all be overjoyed at the developments on the other side, where I predicted weeks ago that a Huckabee surge coupled with Rudy’s ethical defects would change that race dramatically. With an energized evangelical base, Huckabee has a chance to win several early contests and in the south, requiring Rudy and Romney to attack him. Seeing Huckabee attacked by these two and perhaps eventually denied the nomination will only lead to more anger in the GOP base. And if Huckabee makes it to the general election, his positions and prior statements on a range of issues make him the GOP’s electoral version of Dukakis.