It is conventional to complain about the “horse race”
aspects of political reporting. Personally I wish the MSM would see this more
as a horse race instead of something akin to boxing. The latest CNN poll makes
this isn’t Obama vs. Hillary slugging it out in center ring. Iowa is Obama,
Hillary and Edwards locked in a statistical tie as they round the last turn and
head for the wire.
So in story terms what does each bring to the party?
Obama is all Passion and vitality. He doesn’t really have
any positions he hasn’t borrowed from the other two, and his talking points
come prepackaged from Repub pundits, but boy does he know how to smile. Bill
Clinton is right in saying to Charlie Rose that there has never been a Presidential candidate with so little experience
at a national level, but to younger voters that in itself is exciting.
Hillary is a Heroine; like many heroes her strength is also
her Achilles heel. She may not be likable, but that glint in her eyes lets you
know she is ruthless – Clint Eastwood from “A Fist Full of Dollars” without the
cheroot. Given the current world situation that might be just what we need.
Edwards’ story element is Antagonist. He is a scrapper from
the wrong side of the tracks – the only one to clearly define the problems in
economic terms. Walter Shapiro at Salon has a nice piece on how economic populism fuels the Huckabee surge, but somehow
it hasn’t yet clicked that way with the Dems. The recent FEC decision denying Edwards matching funds – you can’t swing punches without making
powerful enemies – makes Iowa must-win for him. But that is exactly when
scrapers dig deep and come through.
It’s a great race. What’s wrong with that?