Most of my poli-blogging this point will come on primary nights, and there'll be a primary thread tomorrow for the Nevada/South Carolina battles. Until then, a short political roundup…
Quote of the Week
"Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to my future Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Homeland Security, Chuck Norris and Ric Flair!"—Mike Huckabee, January 17 in South Carolina. Huckabee Attorney General-designate Wayne Dumond could not be reached for comment.
The Week in Brief
– Mitt Romney won the Michigan primary, clobbering John McCain by nine points. Hillary Clinton won the faux (no delegates awards) Democratic primary, but lost 45 percent of the vote to Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and "uncommitted." Less than 30 percent of black voters went for Clinton.
– The Democrats debated in Las Vegas, promising to paper over a debate on blackness and civil rights and promising to ignore John Edwards.
– Glenn Johnson, Hero. Beating up on Mitt Romney is like critiquing an Uwe Boll movie ("I found several faults with the editing!"), but reporters seemed to throw up their hands and finally give up on him this week. Ana Marie Cox reported that the press corps collaborated on tough questions to ask Romney after his lickety-split move toward economic populism. AP Reporter Glenn Johnson asked the toughest question, challenging Romney on his claim that his was a lobbyist-free campaign. But Johnson got collared afterwards by Romney press people, Romney supporters, and multiple blogs. On this I'm with Dan Savage:
Romney lied, Johnson called him on it. He didn't run off and find a Democrat or a rival for the GOP nomination to "dispute Romney's claim." He reacted the way any reporter—any person—ought to react when they're being lied to. And you gotta love the Romney campaign douchebag/senior staffer that reprimands Johnson for "being argumentative with the candidate." God fucking forbid. And I love the Romney supporter who felt the Johnson was "rude"—as opposed to, you know, the candidate that just lied to her face.
Now, why can't they do this with St. John McCain of Straightalk?
– Obama and Black Votes. CNN just sent out its latest poll which shows a decent Clinton lead nationally—42 to 33 points over Obama. But the network points out a trend in the internals. In October, Clinton led among black voters by 57 to 33 points. Now Obama's flipped the margin and leads 59-31 among blacks, just as the campaign is about to shift to South Carolina and other states where you can't really win without running up the score among black voters. Bradley, Tsongas, Hart, Udall—all those Democratic losers fell when they hit the union/black vote buzzsaw in the big primary states. Obama could be the first insurgent Democrat to beat the machine by breaking it.
But how's he winning the black vote? Obama had predicted for months that as black voters got to know him he'd win them over, just as it happened in his 2004 Senate race. It looks like that was happening in South Carolina. It also looks like the Clinton campaign is building the narrative that stoked-up racial animus—backlash to the campaign surrogates' multiple references to Obama and cocaine, backlash to Bill Clinton calling Obama's storyline on the war a "fairy tale"—has made South Carolina unwinnable. And at the same time they're hitting Obama's comments about Ronald Reagan's political success to make it sound like he considers Reagan a good president and the GOP the "party of ideas." I was struck by the harshness of Rep. Corrine Brown on today's conference call on this issue. I think an attempt to paint the winningest black presidential candidate in history as a Reagan fetishest will fail, but not before planting doubts in the black community and weakening Obama with white voters.
Below the Fold
– Ray McGovern is bearish on the chances of a new Gulf of Tonkin.
– Jonathan V. Last witnesses Barack Obama finding his inner badass.
More of that to come, after the first truly political Politics 'n' Prog: