I was pretty happy with the results from Iowa, not because of who won so much as because of who lost.
The way I see it, Romney was the big loser of the night. As much as I dislike Huckabee (who is as diametrically opposite me on more political issues than any politician in my memory) I kind of enjoyed watching him deliver a crushing broadside to Romney's campaign. Forced to choose, I'd obviously prefer Romney to Huckabee, but here's the difference. Mike Huckabee stands approximately zero percent chance of winning the Republican nomination, much less the White House. Romney, by contrast, was starting to make me nervous.
Back home, we used to have a saying about Denny's. No one ever goes to Denny's, it was said. You just end up there. It's true, and I think this primary season is a lot like that, especially among the Republicans. I talk to a lot of people who say the Republicans can't nominate Giuliani because he's pro-choice, and they can't nominate Romney because he's a Mormon, and they can't nominate McCain because of CFR and immigration, and so forth. They make some good points, but the inescapable reality is that the Republicans are going to nominate somebody.
It's just like Denny's. The GOP base may not be thrilled with any of these folks, but one of them is eventually going to end up with the nomination. It's a bit like musical chairs. Whichever Republican happens to be enjoying a boomlet when the music stops gets the nod.
Until Iowa it was becoming all too easy to imagine the Republicans "ending up" with Mitt Romney. I'm glad Mike Huckabee made that less likely.
Among the Democrats, I think Edwards was the big loser, although Hillary's third-place finish got tons more ink. But Hillary, of course, will live to fight another day. Edwards, by contrast, was betting much more on Iowa, and the final results establish Obama as the "anti-Hillary" candidate. Edwards is largely finished. Hillary is not.
So now for the "bold predictions" part. On the Republican side, every scenario I examine comes up McCain. I'm afraid that might be largely wishful thinking on my part, and I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but his last-minute surge seems to be real.
And consider this. When Huckabee finally drops out (as he must, eventually) who is he going to endorse? In such a situation one does not pledge one's delegates to another also-ran, who will also be croaked out in the following round of primaries. One pledges one's delegates to someone who actually stands a chance of winning (and giving you a job in the new administration.)
So who's Huckabee going to endorse? He clearly despises the Mormon Romney. Pro-choice, gay-friendly, cross-dressing Rudy is right out. Absent Fred Thompson suddenly being taken seriously (please God, no) it looks like McCain to me. Sure, Huckabee probably has issues with the guy, but this is the Denny's election! Huckabee won't choose McCain, he'll end up with him.
On the Democrat side, I guess my money (and my hopes) are still with Hillary. I don't trust her, but I like her because I think she's the only grown-up in the race (and by "race," I mean the top tier. Biden and Richardson are both stronger candidates, in my opinion, but they're finished. What else is new? Democratic primary voters seem positively allergic to voting for actual experience.)
For pure entertainment value, I'm grateful that Obama seems to be making it look like an actual horse race. But frankly, I can't really understand all the hype about the guy. I think this piece pretty much sums up how I feel.
Sen. Obama is a Rorschach test. I see hope! I see brains! I see a whole new kind of politician! I see an amazing life story! I see an orator! I see a natural! I see a hero!
Well, real people aren't Rorschach tests. They aren't blank slates. And by January 2008, Senator Blank Slate, D-Ill., will be a messy chalkboard. He may well be a fabulous chalkboard with cool stuff all over it. But more likely, he'll be pretty much like an American politician, though perhaps one who is a great guy, with a big brain and a powerful voice.
I think the Rorschach test is a pretty good analogy. He's a likeable guy, and a blank enough slate that we can see what we want in him. Or, as Zora Neale Hurston said, "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." I also pretty much agree with Dr. Helen:
When I listen to people talk about Obama, I hear nothing but vague ideals mentioned such as "change, new ideas, something different than the mainstream, fresh voices," yada yada yada. But one thing I don't hear a lot about are his views on policy. What is his stand on Israel? How is he going to fund Universal Health care for everyone without cutting back on the quality of care and/or sacrificing research & development? If he cuts out taxes for 7 million seniors, how does this square with his belief that "everyone should pay their fair share," or does this only apply to corporations? How do you negotiate with terrorists? I have a lot more questions that I hope will be answered prior to the election, because we need more in a President than a breath of fresh air.
"Indeed," as hubby would say. Yet many of my friends -- well-meaning, intelligent people all -- have totally bought into the Obama cult, for reasons that frankly elude me. There's one friend of mine in particular who, when he talks about Obama, reminds me of Linus van Pelt talking about the Great Pumpkin. Like Lucy, I think he's a bit daft on this one issue, but I still love him. And at the end of it all, when he's shivering alone and cold in the middle of some godforsaken pumpkin patch in the middle of the night, I'll be there to bring him in the house and put him to bed.
So my predictions at this point? McCain and Hillary. And yes, I probably have a wishful thinking bias on both counts. Time will tell.