Wednesday, December 12, 2007
U.S. To New York (Candidates): Drop Dead
Already trailing in Iowa, Sen. Hillary Clinton's lead in New Hampshire collapses -- and Obama's Oprah-fying of the black vote causes him to blast by her in South Carolina.
Meanwhile, Huckamania sweeps the GOP as Mayor Rudy Giuliani's support shrinks to its lowest point of the year.
(By the way, the fact that Hillary has a 30 percent lead nationwide in the Post/ABC poll is irrelevant. That lead will evaporate quickly if Obama wins the first three contests.)
UPDATE: I missed this Frank Rich column last week. Since Rich is usually predictable (though a good writer), I rarely cite him. However, he identifies what might be the animating spirit between the Obama and Huckabee "insurgencies" that threaten both Hillary and Rudy:
What really may be going on here is a mirror image of the phenomenon that has upended Hillary Clinton’s “inevitability” among Democrats. Like Senator Obama, Mr. Huckabee is the youngest in his party’s field. (At 52, he’s also younger than every Democratic contender except Mr. Obama, who is 46.) Both men have a history of speaking across party and racial lines. Both men possess that rarest of commodities in American public life: wit. Most important, both men aspire (not always successfully) to avoid the hyper-partisanship of the Clinton-Bush era.
Though their views on issues are often antithetical, Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Obama may be united in catching the wave of an emerging zeitgeist that is larger than either party’s ideology.
The fact to remember about Mr. Huckabee’s polling spike is that it occurred
just after the G.O.P. YouTube debate on CNN, where Mr. Romney and Rudy Giuliani vied to spray the most spittle at illegal immigrants. Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado, the fringe candidate whose most recent ads accuse the invading hordes of “pushing drugs, raping kids, destroying lives,” accurately accused his opponents of trying to “out-Tancredo Tancredo.”
Next to this mean-spiritedness, Mr. Huckabee’s tone leapt off the screen. Attacked by Mr. Romney for supporting an Arkansas program aiding the children of illegal immigrants, he replied, “In all due respect, we’re a better country than to punish children for what their parents did.” It was a winning moment, politically as well as morally. And a no-brainer at that. Given that Mr. Tancredo polls at 4
percent among Iowan Republicans and zero nationally, it’s hard to see why Rudy-Romney thought it was smart to try to out-Tancredo Tancredo.
Mr. Obama’s campaign, though hardly the long shot of Mr. Huckabee’s, could also fall short. But the Clinton camp’s panic over his rise in the Iowa polls shows that he’s on the right tactical track. The more polarizing and negative a candidate turns in style, the more that candidate risks playing Nixon to Mr. Obama’s Kennedy. That Mrs. Clinton’s minions would attack Mr. Obama for unseemly ambition because he wrote a kindergarten report called “I Want to Become President” — and then snidely belittle the press for falling for “a joke” once this gambit backfired — is Rudy-Romneyesque in its vituperative folly.