Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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A little more about South Carolina

Marc Ambinder has some useful observations. Consider these three, for example:

5. The exit polls show that Bill Clinton did not help his wife not one bit in South Carolina and may have hurt her. Late deciders were driven to Obama by large margins.

6. Obama kept it competitive with white voters and brought tens of thousands of new voters and young voters into the process. His usual coalition -- younger folks, folks with college degrees -- expanded to include voters of all income levels. This is key to Feb. 5.

7. Whether the racial prism through which South Carolina was viewed was, in matter of fact, the fault of a concerted effort by the Clintons, the political establishment believes it to be so, and the Clintons face a huge perception problem.

And then there’s
this: as some have noted (gleefully or glumly), Obama received more votes than the top two Republicans in last week’s primary. To be sure, weather was a factor then, but there’s more chill in that number than the mere threat of snow. Here, by way of contrast, are the 2004 Democratic results. Back then, roughly 300,000 people voted; this time, Obama got almost that many votes by himself. In 2008, roughly 180,000 more people voted in the Democratic than in the Republican primary. In 2000, over 500,000 people voted in the Republican primary, but since the Democrats caucused that year, we shouldn’t read too much into that. The bottom line: the Democratic primary turnout wasn’t far off Kerry’s total vote in the 2004 general election, while the Republican result this time was almost 600,000 votes shy of GWB’s 2004 total in the state.

A simple-minded projection from the primaries to the general election suggests that South Carolina--a state Republicans have won comfortably in recent years--would be in play in 2008. Of course, there’s reason why we have campaigns with real candidates, not just projections of hypothetical candidates. But it’s fair to say that Republicans will need to generate far more enthusiasm and undeertake a GOTV operation of Rovian efficiency and effectiveness in order to have a shot at winning in November.

Discussions - 2 Comments

What has happened here in SC tonight does not bode well for the Clintons on Super Bowl Tuesday. True, the massive turnout of blacks did in truth provide the massiveness of the margin of victory. But it is hard not to interpret the overall results as anything but a rebuke to Clintonism as a mode of politics. It is also true that the structure of the Democratic electorate seems to favor the Clintons, as all the pundits observe. But I am struck that the beltway pundits were very wrong (I am thinking of Kondracke and Barnes especially) in saying that Obama's harping on the Clinton slanders would hurt him since he was "on the defensive." In fact, the results say that Obama was right in going on the offensive in attacking, and attacking successfully, the increasingly crude machiavellianism of the Clintons. I wonder if the real test will be whether the Democrats have so successfully imbued their votaries with such an absolute identity politics that Obama will not be able to break through with his unity message in the end. But the zeitgeist is with Obama, and I really think he would be harder for McCain to beat. I have said for a long time I would rather have Hillary as president than Obama, and it is true that Hillary is more predictable as President than Barack. But Barack would probably be better domestically than Hillary. The problem in the end with Obama is that he potentially could in fact alchemize sufficient majorities in Congress to do real damage. Of course, it could also be than folks in the rest of the country just won't react to results what they think of as the civilizational backwater known as South Carolina! (They would be wrong of course.)

It really depends on the bounce that Obama gets from his win tonight. Hillary is still ahead in some major states. So it really depends on the bounce, the buzz and the media attention.

As for a "rebuke" to Clintonism, you guys need to recall that EVERY MAJOR NEWSPAPER in the country, other than The Washington Post and The New York Times, wrote an editorial asking Clinton to resign. There have been previous "rebukes" to Clintonism. Even his defenders during the impeachment drama said that he should be "censored" and "admonished." So Americans aren't lacking for instances where the Clintons have been "rebuked."

What Americans are lacking is the will-power to banish Clinton once and for all.

Part of that is attributable to George Herbert Walker Bush, who for reasons known only to himself, has made a reclamation project of Clintons' reputation and legacy. Clinton has done some incredibly sick things, before, during and after his White House years. The elder Bush should have refused to have anything to do with him. But of course there's some arcane aspect of the Blue Blood code that only a Bush is privy to, so instead of a President who is recalled for his pardon of Rich, the whole thing about Rich is forgotten, and instead of the rape accusations, the CREDIBLE rape accusations being recalled, they're forgotten, as are the women Clinton victimized.

Even Rush Limbaugh took to task the former President for paling around with Clinton.

The Bush family never ceases to amaze. It's not just about GW, it's about the ethos and the attitude of that entire family. The Bush family helps Clinton restore his reputation that was deservedly in tatters, and just a few years later, Clinton is out there ripping and tearing into America's foreign policy, domestic policy, and the Bush administration.

There's something Shakespearian in all of this.

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