Saturday, January 19, 2008

Time for the political two-minute drill!

College football fans have bowl season. Style mavens have Fashion Week. Movie lovers have the Oscars (but that might be a bad example this year). And political junkies have presidential primaries.

Ah, the primaries … the time every four years when obscure delis and diners make national news, when otherwise-politically irrelevant states swarm with national media more comfortable with Starbucks than meat-and-threes, when campaigns finally get to test their candidates’ mettle and when voters have their first say.

It’s like a BCS playoff!

Choosing just one thing to write about from the past week would be like restricting myself to just one thing from Whispering Oaks’ delicious smorgasbord. Who would do that to themselves?

So, in honor of the NFL’s conference championship games this weekend, I offer you the political version of the two-minute drill:

  • Beware the Big Mo. Momentum is the watchword of primary season: Who has it? Who’s lost it? But savvy politicos know that while critical to candidates’ progress, momentum can also be misleading. Hillary Clinton and John McCain had the momentum coming out of New Hampshire. But the reality is that going into today’s contests in Nevada and South Carolina, Barack Obama leads Clinton in delegates 25-24, while on the GOP side, Mitt Romney leads Mike Huckabee 48-19. McCain is third with 15. Winning the nomination is all about delegates. Especially this year, when analysts have begun to raise the specter of old-fashioned floor fights to decide the nominations, the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare may end up having a political application by the time we reach the conventions in Denver and St. Paul.

  • This week’s “????” award goes to CNN pundit Roland Martin. While on the desk Tuesday night, Martin made several odd comments that left his fellow talking heads wondering what he was talking about. Martin should stick to the written word; at least you can go back and read his comments until they make sense … or you pass out at your computer, whichever comes first.

  • CNN’s John King gets the Best Use of Technology award. His touch-screen map (with details!) is one of the top two things about CNN’s returns coverage. (The other is Gloria Borger.) With a color-coded, detailed display of results broken down to the county, King’s presentations are a politico’s dream.

  • King’s map may be cool, but Fox News Channel’s Carl Cameron is, hands down, the best political reporter on TV. Political junkies know he’s one of us. Cameron’s interesting and incisive reporting is all business, but it’s delivered with a breathless excitement that borders on sheer glee. It’s proof that he’s landed his dream job. Who else could get so excited about an interview with the elections supervisor in Dixville Notch? Cameron is known as “Campaign Carl,” and The Hollywood Reporter calls him an “uncaged political animal.” What’s not to love?

  • The One-Liner of the Week belongs to former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. During CNN’s returns coverage Tuesday night, Fleischer dismissed reports that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg may be inching toward an independent run for president, calling Bloomberg’s actions “a flirtation that won’t result in a kiss.”

Temperatures will slide down into the low 20s tonight. So why not live the life of a political junkie for a few hours? Curl up with a mug of hot chocolate and watch the returns.

But don’t blame me if you find yourself watching cable news during the games tomorrow!

No comments: