Monday, February 11, 2008

Broken crayons, and other leftover Super Tuesday thoughts

(Originally published 2/11/08)

Some leftover thoughts from Super Tuesday:

  • Several right-wing pundits lamented Mike Huckabee’s better-than-expected performance in southern states. At least one opined that Huckabee’s continued presence in the GOP primary meant that the conservative wing of the party “could not coalesce” around Mitt Romney, therefore clearing the way for the success of a more moderate candidate in John McCain.

    Right – almost. It’s not that the conservative voters of the party “could not” coalesce around Romney. Rather, they would not coalesce around Romney, particularly because of his about-face on the social issues they hold dear.

    This goes to the heart of the philosophical questions confronting voters at the ballot box: Should you support the candidate with whom you most agree, or the candidate you think has the best chance of keeping the other party out of power? More importantly, is it incumbent on any individual voter who espouses a party affiliation to sacrifice his personal convictions for the best interests of that party?

    We’ll explore this more in coming months. But suffice it to say that the answers may lie in the way our country selects its presidential nominees.

  • One Alabamian made national news Tuesday night during coverage of election returns. CNN’s Paul Begala reported that Alabama Democratic Conference Chairman Joe Reed, who is also associate executive secretary of the Alabama Education Association, had “guaranteed” a win for Hillary Clinton in this state.

    According to its web site, since its founding in 1960, the mission of the ADC “has been to organize and unify the black vote ... Today ADC’s influence extends into most of the counties in the state.”

    The Associated Press reported that 80 percent of black Alabamians supported Barack Obama on Super Tuesday, rejecting the endorsement of Clinton that the ADC had made in October.

    The good news for the ADC is that it appears to have succeeded in consolidating the black vote; the bad news for the ADC is that there is a serious disconnect between its leadership and the people it is supposed to represent.

  • Speaking of the Democratic primary, it seems that the people of Syracuse, N.Y., have their pulse on the contest as much as anyone. Beating odds that one Syracuse University mathematics professor pegged at less than one in 1 million, Clinton and Obama tied – yes, tied – with exactly 6,001 votes each in the city’s unofficial vote tally Tuesday.

    Alas, absentee and provisional ballots undoubtedly tipped the scale one way or the other. But what happened in Syracuse typifies the neck-and-neck nature of this race: On Super Tuesday, Clinton won 0.4 percent more popular votes than Obama.

  • Finally, you know that I love the map CNN incorporates into its election night coverage. That kind of technology adds a whole new dimension to politics.

    So it was a strange scene, indeed, when Karl Rove appeared on Hannity & Colmes Thursday to analyze the Democratic primary with a 23-by-17 inch dry-erase board. Throughout the segment, he held the board up with his hand and struggled to write on it with markers that lived up to their “dry” name.

    Rove is arguably the best tactical political mind of our time. Many believe he is singlehandedly responsible, for better or for worse, for the election and re-election of George W. Bush. Even so, while CNN anchor John King enjoys the cutting-edge, touchscreen wall map, Karl Rove is stuck with the lap board.

    Giving Rove that board to discuss election strategy would be like handing Michelangelo your kid’s half-broken handful of crayons you dug out of the couch and telling him to get to work on the Sistine Chapel. It’s just wrong.

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