Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Politics of Obstruction

It's in my mind that we've been seeing, for the past 16 years, a new theme in American Presidential politics: The politics of obstruction.

I say this after viewing the detailed results of the South Carolina Democratic primary yesterday. Barack Obama swamped the Clinton campaign, 54% to 27%, with John Edwards running an even more distant third in his home state (18%).

The details are in the Devil, to twist a phrase: Clinton didn't even capture a plurality of the white vote, Edwards edging her out by four percent there, and yet Clinton stomped the yard with him.

Normally, you'd think, well, Edwards just sang his swan song and is being tugged off the stage. I mean, 18% in your own backyard is a little like, I don't know, a President pulling approval ratings in the 30s. Ballgame over, time to pack the bags.

But not John Edwards!

And that got me to thinking about insurgent campaigns, like Ross Perot's, or Ralph Nader's. We can now add John Edwards to the list of people whose ego has written checks their bankbooks can't cash. And you have to ask yourself, why?

Is it vanity? Ego? An overinflated sense of self-worth?

John, let's look at this calculatedly: you had a two year head start on Hillary and Barack. You practically moved to Iowa.

And you placed second. A distant second. You haven't placed closer ever since.

Your message of Two Americas, as noble as it is, is not resonating with people who are deathly afraid of the Depression that is coming.

And why should it? You offer no hope to those who "have," who own a house and have a car and maybe even a decent health insurance from work, even tho in reality those are the people who are most in danger of becoming citizens of the Second America.

As best as I can figure, your entire campaign now rests on this statistic: the last three elected Democratic presidents all came from the South. But that dynamic, one of moderate centrist white men winning in the South by forging a coalition of Blue Dog Democrats, is in danger of being overwhelmed by the envigorated black vote and the carpetbagger Northeasterners who moved to follow their jobs.

And you're too liberal to sway the former Reagan Democrats.

I get this picture in my head that there's this big chalkboard at Edwards' campaign headquarters, with this long complex equation on it. It starts out "White House=..." and the last term in the equation is "+and then the miracle happens!"

Get over it, John. The last true miracle in this country happened in Lake Placid in 1980. You're not the solution the country wants and right now, you're running as the candidate who believed he was entitled to the nomination because it was "my turn," having failed so miserably in 2004 as VP.

Which basically means, you're part of the problem. Get out.