Surfing the Big Waves of Politics

Jan 6, 2008 11:04pm

As we head into the New Hampshire primary and out of the Iowa caucus, and in the aftermath of the crucial ABC debates Saturday night, a good friend of mine in Austin, Texas reminded me of an interesting nautical story.

In marine life, there has always been the myth of monster or freak large waves that have supposedly come from nowhere and sunk ships or damaged them, or thrown ships totally off course.  For many years, the idea of rogue waves was denied or disputed, but lately research has shown the existence of these formally mythic occurrences.

Are we in the midst of a rogue political wave right now?

Despite all the resources and establishment backing and the legacy of a popular former President and being ahead for more than 20 months by 25 points nationally, Hillary Clinton finished third in Iowa and looks, as of today, that she will lose the New Hampshire primary to a young upstart freshman Senator from Illinois. 

And though Barack Obama didn’t hit any homeruns in the Saturday debate (he looked like he was coached not to make any errors and he didn’t get any hits either) and didn’t really add to his surge, Clinton didn’t stem the momentum tide coming out of Iowa.  And that was the main goal she had to accomplish.  If likeablity was a concern of hers and her staff going in, then her showing certainly didn’t help that in the least.

There are times in politics when large waves suddenly arise and no matter how much rowing and power one exerts, you can’t fight the surge.  And this may be one of those times where the Clinton operation can’t fight the rogue wave that has surfaced.   The fissures in her inevitability are widening each day. 

On the Republican side, Romney, who lost Iowa and needs to win New Hampshire, didn’t do anything positive at the debate to slow the movement for McCain that began before the Iowa caucuses.  While McCain didn’t have a stellar performance, he did enough to keep the voters on board and moving toward him as we head into election day Tuesday.   And the polls indicate today that McCain captures New Hampshire, but not by nearly as wide a margin he did in 2000.   

Huckabee, who won Iowa, seemed to be a nonfactor in the debate and looks to have resigned himself to competing more strongly in Michigan and South Carolina later in the month.

Fred Thompson seemed to have done the best, but it may be too little too late.  He is almost like the team that missed the playoffs, but wins their last game of the season, but it doesn’t matter much. 

So as of today it looks like the mythic rogue wave (Obama) may indeed be real and as I mentioned in an earlier report, once the Chicago Cubs start winning, then tons of voters will want them to win and get their hearts behind them. 

And while the Republican nomination trend is still unclear, though we should get some signal after Tuesday night, Michigan is going to be the real test of the emergence of  the leader of the GOP.

Exciting times for the country and for all of us who love politics, and are fans of underdogs in all facets of life. 


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