Iowa: Stopping Hillary Clinton's Juggernaut

by Rick Rockwell

Hillary Clinton must be stopped.

The reasons for this are manifest, and have been explained with more detail by a variety of others.

But before Sen. Clinton (D-NY) heads for her coronation in this insanely early and over-compressed nomination season, she must clear the hurdle of Iowa. And lately, thankfully, that hurdle has grown in size.

Now, before we get on to the business of disrupting the Clinton coronation machinery, a few preliminaries first.

Number One: We decry the way the media establish the benchmarks for candidates (for instance: if Republican Mitt Romney doesn’t win in Iowa or New Hampshire, he’s out) and focus too much on the horse race aspects of the campaign. Even pollsters want to fix this problem. The media aren’t asking the right questions about why certain candidates are getting the support they receive. They aren’t talking enough about issues. And for the most part, their examination of the qualifications and experience of these candidates is laughable.

However, this post is stepping out of the usual mode here of discussing issues and will focus on electoral strategy. Yes, that smacks of the same ills mentioned above. But for the next few weeks the media are going to be focused so much on the micro-snapshots of Iowa and New Hampshire (voting on Jan. 8) that the macro-mural may escape us.

Number Two: None of the media-anointed candidates running for the Democratic nomination are the solution to our national ills. This country needs a leader who can do more than deliver a good speech. No question, Clinton, and her top rivals Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and former Senator John Edwards can deliver a speech better than the current president. However, they can all debate hope, leadership, and the ability to change the country as long as they want. They aren’t the solution. They are the problem. Did this country not learn anything in the past seven years? Didn’t the Republicans manage to get an outsider with minimal experience who promised governmental change appointed to the presidency in 2000? Arguably, neither Clinton, Obama, nor Edwards has a record any better than George W. Bush did when he became president. (For more on Obama's negatives, please see: "Giuliani, Obama & the Politics of Fear.") Name any major legislative measures any of these Democrats have pushed through Congress that leads us to see hope, change, or their great leadership experience. The cupboard is bare on that score. All they have to offer so far are promises and we know what those are worth.

However, we must pray that Edwards or Obama upsets Clinton in Iowa. A controversial poll from The Des Moines Register, says Obama will win the Iowa caucuses. The USA Today/ABC News tracking poll shows Iowa is a statistical dead heat with Edwards having the best chance of taking the upset.

Clinton must be stopped in Iowa or slowed there to give other candidates the possibility of overtaking her. Otherwise, her campaign will roll to the inevitable early conclusion, the same way Bush’s did in 2000. On the Democratic side, only the candidates polling in single digits have any real experience to dig this country out from the Bush Nightmare, and unfortunately, most of those candidates are damaged goods. Yes, even with at least 18 people running in both parties, the choices presented to the voters are really pretty slim. It could be the best people to save this country won’t submit themselves to the broken and foolish system of how this country elects presidents now. (And please, everyone who said the system was broken in 2000 and 2004, tells us what happened to the promised reforms?)

Nationally, Clinton still has at least a 22-point lead over Obama, although that lead has shrunk by about ten points since October. Importantly, however, Obama is on the upward trend and has statistically tied Clinton in New Hampshire, where she who would be queen once had a 16-point lead. Also, Obama has come back from a ten-point deficit to statistically tie Clinton in South Carolina, where voters go to the polls on Jan. 26.

So rooting for Obama and Edwards is a good thing, at least for now. But let’s not get back into the coronation business, because there are too many issues to sort out first. And, so far, the real solution for 2008 has yet to be found.

For previous entries with similar themes, please also see:

(Political graphic from StrangePolitics, a website that offers copyright-free political material.)

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Jeff Siegel said...

Right on! My hope this morning, before this foolishness starts, is that Iowans will show their usual good sense (to paraphrase the writer W.P. Kinsella: "Is this heaven? No, this is Iowa") and show the rest of the country that we don't have to put up with the corrupt, business as usual campaign cash system and vote their consciences.

Anonymous said...

You are preaching to the gallery here but I too second the notion.

we would all be better off if we simply turned the TV off and spend 2 hours reading position papers on each candidate and then took our decision. Thank God the Iowa voters seem to be using their head. I would say that those complaining now about Iowa's important role are only upset because Iowan's are using the brains to decide who to vote for, not TV commercials.

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