Iowa Speeches

Perusing the responses to the outcome in Iowa, I think I must be on another planet. My response seems to be nearly the opposite of most. I thought John Edwards’s and Hillary Clinton’s were strong, but that Barack Obama’s was merely okay.

Hillary Clinton, I thought, did an incredible job of handling this loss. She was completely unphased and didn’t say a word conceding it as a loss. This was model framing.

New Hampshire is currently neck-in-neck and South Carolina will be tight, especially after Iowa. It would be dangerous for Hillary Clinton to go three primaries without a win. Loosing South Carolina in isolation could be dismissed, but loosing it as the third in a row may send a signal that could change the dynamics in subsequent states. That being said, Senator Clinton is a candidate that will really start to perform when the primaries break out of the idiosyncratic states and get more normal. Hillary Clinton is presently on track to trounce Senator Obama on Super Tuesday and in delegate rich states like Michigan and New York. And in her speech I heard someone speak with the confidence of knowing this.

Regarding John Edwards, the Democratic party has been a lagging indicator of how far to the left U.S. political sentiment has shifted in the last two years or so. We presently have an electorate that is consistently to the left of the left-leaning party. Listening to John Edwards’s speech I was struck that his is the tone that I would expect in such an environment: fiery, strongly liberal, naming a list of villains and not afraid to make enemies in staking out his positions.

Senator Obama’s speech was exciting in some respects in that it did contain some dramatic lines, most outstandingly the first one, and the poses he struck, the expressions on his face, his intonation were all very strong and dramatic. But I kept on spacing out because most of what he actually said was the usual kissing babies, better world for out children, petting puppydogs political rhetoric. I’ve said it before (“Where’s the Hate?,” 9 March 2007), but I find Barack Obama every bit as vacuous as Hillary Clinton.

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