God Loves Me

As if to definitely prove my last post, a nothing short of awesome poll out of Iowa was just released:

A new Research 2000 poll in Iowa shows John Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama tied among likely Democratic caucus voters with 22% each. Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack trails with 12%, followed by Sen. Hillary Clinton at just 10%. All other potential candidates are in the single digits.

Obama is now the frontrunner. His name recognition among Iowa Democrats is a fraction of that of Clinton, Edwards and Vilsack. And he’s tied for first place with nary a campaign visit (note that Edwards has been working the state all of this past year). If this keeps up, Iowa is Obama’s to lose. And if he scores a victory by several points or more, the nomination is his to lose as well – recall that a 5.8% margin of victory in Iowa guaranteed Kerry the nomination. And while Edwards is clearly still in the running (if a tier below Obama), this should prove that Hillary is truly a paper tiger. Why she’s dubbed the frontrunner when she’s a non-presence in the first and most important primary contest is beyond me.

Edwards and CtW

Today’s column by Bob Novak purports to detail Edwards’ appeal to the Change to Win unions (Teamsters, SEIU, UFW, UNITE-HERE) that broke off from the AFL-CIO in the summer of 2005. Given that CtW’s endorsement of Edwards has been predicted basically since CtW’s creation, this premise seemed sort of boring at first. But reading the piece, it seems to convince me not of Edwards’ overwhelming appeal to CtW, but of the growing possibility that it will sour on him. See this section, for instance:

Edwards’s unusual step of selecting former representative David Bonior of Michigan as his national campaign manager has been described as enlisting a laborite politician to woo labor. But Teamsters officials regard Bonior as less their friend than a friend of the United Auto Workers. Some believe Edwards would have been better advised to stick with his former campaign manager, Nick Baldick, an experienced political operative who has been given the task of advising Edwards on the early tests in Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire. Baldick is renowned for saving Al Gore from oblivion in the 2000 New Hampshire primary.
The labor operatives pondering their ’08 decisions also confess they are less than comfortable with a prominent role in the campaign for Edwards’s wife, Elizabeth, who never has been a political spouse who stays in the shadows. It is not good news for Edwards if some Teamsters are put off by the triumvirate of John Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards and Dave Bonior.

This is very, very good news for Obama. If Obama can paint Edwards as a Gephardt type, mired in Old Labor-style protectionism and less concerned with issues like health care that are SEIU head Andy Stern’s bread and butter, there’s a very real possibility that he could get CtW to stay neutral, if not endorse him outright. Either of those options would be very, very good in Nevada, where CtW unions have a heavy presence.
On a somewhat related topic, does anyone actually see a possibility of Hillary Clinton winning any of the first three primaries? Edwards is the man to beat in Iowa, and despite his relatively abysmal name rec Obama is about even with Hillary, and he will undoubtedly pull far ahead of her after he actually starts campaigning. In Nevada, who wins depends more or less on how CtW acts, which would be on either Edwards’ or Obama’s behalf; Hillary isn’t even in the picture. And in New Hampshire, from personal experience and the press coverage of his visit to Manchester I can say that Obama is the frontrunner; Hillary doesn’t engender anywhere near the same excitement, and Edwards isn’t even on the radar screen. So where does Hillary fit in? And if she loses all three of the first contests, how on earth could she win the nomination? Just winning Iowa won Kerry the whole nomination. And if that’s the case in 2008, Hillary doesn’t have a chance.

Speaking Ill of the Dead Is Ever So Much Fun

I think approximately no one is saddened by the death today of Turkmen dictator Saparmurat Niyazov, whose brutality and proclivity for self-worship was detailed excellently by hilzoy at Obsidian Wings a little over a year ago. An interim crony of Niyazov’s has taken over, but with opposition figures returning it seems that civil turmoil is likely. Let’s hope it ends up more like Czechoslovakia in 1989 than like Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Another Great Pro-Trade Op-Ed

If you still need to be convinced that protectionism as a serious economic philosophy died in the early 1800s and that free trade agreements are in the interest of rich and poor states alike, read this piece at WaPo. Even if you’re a NAFTA-worshiping Rubinite like myself, it’s worth a read just because of how systematically and beautifully it pwns mercantilist talking points. So wherever you stand on trade, read it. It’s truly scrumtrulescent.

I Don’t Know What Part of That Sentence to Correct First

Jonah Goldberg really needs to lay off the crack:

AMERICA NEEDS a Pym Fortuyn, and Rudolph Giuliani may be the man for the job.

For those who don’t know, Pym Fortuyn was the scarily popular Dutch version of David Duke, who happened to be gay. Sure, that does seem to contradict the popular conception that racists hate basically everyone who isn’t straight and Aryan, but it doesn’t make Fortuyn’s blatant anti-Muslim bigotry any more excusable. And it certainly doesn’t make him anything like Giuliani, who is, how shall I say this, not a total racist. The column makes about as much sense as comparing Meir Kahane to Ross Perot – because, you know, they weren’t easily classified politically, so they must be the same!

The Insurgent

Establishment candidates win Republican presidential nominations. With one exception (Goldwater in 1964), there has been a clear pre-race frontrunner in every race since the end of World War II, and that frontrunner won, no matter how much their challengers (Taft in 1952, Reagan in 1976, Bush in 1980, Dole/Robertson in 1988, Buchanan in 1992/1996, McCain in 2000) tried to knock them out. So I think that it’s not unreasonable to predict that 2008’s establishment candidate – John McCain – bizarre as he may be, will get the nod come the convention. But that leaves the question of who will be the thorn in his side during the primaries. My guess, unorthodox as it may be, is former Gov. Jim Gilmore (R-VA). Former governor, outsider appeal, ideological purity as compared to the frontrunner – this guy’s a regular Howard Dean (and though Dean got the national committee post after his campaign, Gilmore’s already headed the RNC). His Protestantism makes him more attractive to conservatives than Romney, Brownback, Keating, and Thompson, each of whom also have their own individual problems (past social liberalism, current batshit craziness, six years spent as a DC lobbyist, and four years in the Bush administration, respectively). The fact that he’s better known due to the DC media market puts him over Hunter and Huckabee – the latter of whom, in any case, lost the race the day he wrote a diet book. He isn’t an adulterer, which puts him over the other “G”s – Gingrich and Giuliani – the latter of whom is not a viable conservative insurgent for obvious reasons. Sure, Gilmore’s got problems, but not the 99 that all his opponents have. And, again, he’s eerily like Howard Dean. I wouldn’t be surprised if he played the same role in the race that Howard did in 2003.