The week in brief…
– The Republicans faced YouTube and Anderson Cooper in a debate generally spun as a debacle for its inclusion of partisan Democrats in the question queue.
– Ron Paul passed the $10 million mark for his third quarter fundraising. Even odds that he'll top GOP fundraising for October through December.
– Rep. Jack Murtha declared that "the surge is working," and Democrats shed whatever regrets they had about not making him their majority leader.
Barack's Back. Arriving in your all-American mailbox today is this issue of Time magazine.
You don't get the cover of Time if people think you're a loser. This, then, is zeitgeisty evidence of an Obama comeback (or maybe just a surge). The never-credible "Hillary's a lock" narrative from the summer and most of the fall has been scrapped, and the new narrative is: "Will Obama win Iowa; and if he does, can Hillary still win?"
The answers: Maybe and probably. The Clinton campaign is clearly spooked about a steady Obama rise out of the three-way Iowa tie, and is overreacting much the way it did after the Philadelphia "pile-on" debate, demanding Obama take down a health care ad that's been up for weeks… back when their press releases mocked his "faltering campaign." There are plenty of reasons why Obama's doing better, and they show up in his "honesty" and "change" numbers in tracking polls. I wonder if one reason is his ads. The Clinton campaign got kudos for hiring Jimmy Siegel, the Madison Avenue ad man who made unconventional, grandiose ads for Eliot Spitzer's landslide 2006 campaign, while Obama's run more typical candidate-in-a-room-talking-to-Joe-Sixpack ads. As a result the TV version of Hillary has looked like a deity descending from Olympus, while Obama has looked like… well, a statesman from Illinois. (Obama's run more ads, too, which never hurts.)
How does Clinton recover if she loses? I don't think she wins New Hampshire: Iowans caucus on Jan. 3, the headlines on Jan. 4 would be given over to Obamania, Jan. 4 and Jan. 5 are the weekend, so Jan. 6 is the only day to stage a big comeback. But the next contest is Michigan's dubious Jan. 15 primary, where only Clinton and Dodd are on the ballot after a convoluted series of legal moves. Plenty depends on how the press corps covers that. Next (Jan. 19) comes Nevada, where Clinton will have had to drop around 30 points to lose her lead. And ten days later come South Carolina and Florida, the first one a legitimate primary and a good state for Clinton, the second one a catastrophic non-primary (no Democrat has been allowed to campaign there after the state flouted the primary schedule) and an even better state for Clinton. We've never had a situation like this with two big primaries that, technically, have no legitimacy–how do they get covered? There are multiple gimmicks in the Democratic race that will help the national frontrunner. In the GOP race there are fewer gimmicks and not as strong a frontrunner.
Meanwhile, this from Bill Kristol:
The Obama-Bloomberg breakfast this morning raises the obvious thought: isn't Obama-Bloomberg a logical 2008 Democratic ticket?
If you put aside the politics there's something inspiring there: In 2008, a ticket consisting of a black man and a billionaire Jewish mogul is seen as more electable that a ticket led by a Clinton.
She Got a TV Eye On Me. Fox News usually inserts curveballs into its presidential polls, and the latest one (PDF link) offers this:
Whoever is elected president will be on television constantly for at least four years. Which one of the following candidates would you LEAST want to watch on television for four years?
The Democrats' numbers aren't too surprising and track with what the electorate generally thinks of the candidates.
Hillary Clinton—44 percent
John Edwards—22 percent
Barack Obama—18 percent
Clinton is the most-loathed Democrat among Republican (63 percent) and independents (43 percent). Edwards has both the highest discomfort number among Democrats (33 percent) and the lowest among Republicans (11 percent), probably because 1)Democrats are sick of hearing his negative attacks and 2)He's not a Clinton or a black dude who your sister told you she heard was a Muslim.
The GOP numbers are more surprising.
Fred Thompson—24 percent
Rudy Giuliani—19 percent
John McCain—18 percent
Mitt Romney—17 percent
Yes, the professional actor with the deep voice is the man people least want to see on TV every day. Less, even, than two guys with speech impediments. Every time you think the Fred '08 campaign can't look any more misbegotten… there it goes.
Below the fold…
– Michael Cooper nails Rudy Giuliani's willful misuse of NYC statistics.
And this week's Politics 'n' Prog is the terrible, awful, no-good music video for Andy Summers' and Robert Fripp's collaboration "I Advance Masked." Tough to imagine two nerd-rockers looking less comfortable.