Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hindsight on New Hampshire

Now I can look at my forecasts with the virtue of hindsight -- which is always easier.

I’ll start with the big error. I really thought Obama was going to win New Hampshire. What went wrong? He was so far in the lead there in the days before that it seemed a sure thing. I suspect that was part of the problem. A lot of Obama’s support came from independent voters but the same group was attracted to McCain.

I suspect some of them looked at the polls and saw Obama with a 10 point lead and figured it was safe to vote in the Republican primary for McCain. The funny thing is that his lead may have been his undoing. In addition there is another factor. Some individuals who planned to vote against Obama didn’t want to say they were going to vote against because they didn’t want anyone to perceive them as racist. That is still a touchy issue. That might have a slight effect however. In addition I suspect the big win in Iowa scared the hell out of the establishment Democrats who were behind Hillary and they doubled their efforts while the Obama supporters felt they had it in the bag.

However, there is something else to consider. Technically Obama is in the lead when it comes to delegates from New Hampshire. According to CNN the number of delegates elected for Hillary were 11 but Obama picked up 12. Where one gets votes also counts. So Obama trailed slightly in the popular vote but won in the delegate vote. For the time being the Democratic race remains open but I’m still inclined to think Obama will lead the ticket.

The Republican race went pretty much the way I predicted it would. McCain had an easy victory and Romney came in second. I still contend a ticket with both those men is the best chance the Republicans have of winning the White House -- they can write off the Senate and the House now.

Huckabee was in a close race with Giuliani for third but Hillbilly Huck pulled it off as I thought he would. Giuliani’s campaign is dead as they come though not as dead as Fred Thompson’s who has proven to be unable to handle himself without a script.

New Hampshire ought to have been better for Paul. It was worse. He dropped from 9.9% in Iowa to just over 8% with two percent of the vote outstanding. He picked up no delegates in New Hampshire. He only got two in Iowa and the Wyoming caucus went by with hardly anyone noticing and he got zero there.

And the New Republic article detailing the articles in the Ron Paul newsletters from the past was far more devastating than I expected. James Kirchick did his homework and the magazine reprinted the full newsletter articles in pdf format so people could see what they said in full. The Paulists will pick on a couple of times when Kirchick did overstate his case. But there was more than enough meat there to mean big problems for Ron Paul.

This story is just starting. Paul’s publication printed comments that were viciously bigoted or disgusting. For instance consider this about Martin Luther King: “He was a comsymp, if not an actual party member... he also seduced underage girls and boys.” Paul says he didn’t write it. Yet this newsletter ends with: “My wife Carol, and our children and grandchildren, join me in wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. May we start to confound the plans of the Trilateralists....” (A nice touch of conspiracy paranoia to follow those vicious remarks about King.) Please note Paul’s wife is named Carol. He says he didn’t write it but the end of the piece is directly from Paul. That’s hard to explain away.

Some of the worst comments were reserved for gay men. Get this comment:
First, these men don’t really see a reason to live past their fifties. They are not married, they have no children, and their lives are centered on new sexual partners. These conditions do not make one’s older years the happiest. Second, because sex is the center of their lives, they want it to be as pleasurable as possible, which means unprotected sex. Third, they enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick.
When some gay advocacy groups meet with in the White House during the reign of the first Bush Paul’s newsletter wrote, “the organized forces of perversion were feted in the White House.” His newsletter then said: “I miss the closet. Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities. They could also not be as promiscuous. Is it any coincidence that the AIDS epidemic developed after they came ‘out of the closet,’ and started hyper-promiscuous sodomy? I don’t believe so, medically or morally.”

That “medically” reference would imply that Paul wrote it.

Another article wrote about the gay news magazine The Advocate doing a story on anti-gay remarks made by commentator Andy Rooney (who also made anti-black remarks on other occasions). The Paul newsletter basically defends Rooney and says: “The reporter--who certainly had an axe to grind, and that’s not easy with a limp wrist--claimed that...” Now that’s real cute. No doubt Ann Coulter found it hilarious. One subscription letter signed by Paul said: “I’ve been told not to talk, but these stooges don’t scare me. Threats or no threats, I’ve laid bare the coming race war in our big cities. The federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS (my training as a physician helps me see through that one.) The Bohemian-Grove--perverted pagan playground of the powerful.... “ This is tin hate material.

One of the worst, in my opinion, was that he reprinted advice on how to care for an AIDS patient. He called it “excellent advice” and “commonsense precaution” that would be illegal due to hate crime legislation. But he said these suggestions “give us an idea on how we should actually proceed.”
1) Wear rubber gloves when handling the clothes, dishes, etc. of the patient. 2) Use paper plates and cups and burn them afterwards. 3) Boil all his laundry for at least 15 minutes. 4) Pour a half cup of Clorox in his bath water before draining it. 5) Always wipe the toilet seat with a soapy paper towel. Do not put the towel in the toilet, but in a paper bag to be burned. 6) No kissing, since AIDS can be transmitted by saliva. 8) Do not allow the patient to eat in a restaurant. 9) Do not allow the patient to drive or operate machinery due to mental impairment.
That has to be the most ignorant piece of advice I have read ever on this topic. And that was in 1990, long after we knew better about the disease.

These revelations, and no doubt more will be coming since the publication was printed for years, are very damaging. Paul has tried to claim it was done when he wasn’t looking. Sorry, but that doesn’t wash. The articles like this appeared over a period of years and were printed from his office in Texas. He has also claimed it was ghost written by an aide. As we understand it much of it was but that “former aide” is still closely connected to Paul. But some of the comments, like the letter appear over Paul’s signature. It is hard to keep excusing this. Paul’s campaign, in my opinion, is official over. The questions is how long he will wait to announce it. I suspect early February.

One clear sign of this will be if we see how his spending goes over the next couple of weeks. If he is planning on dropping out his spending will decline as he save his war chest for other ventures. He has a tidy sum of money at his disposal to use in other ways if he drops his campaign.

The big looser in this election are easier to pick out than the winners. On the Democratic side Richardson, Kucinich, Biden, Gravel and Dodd are totally out of the race, no matter what they say officially. Edwards is holding on still but still in third in what will be a couple’s game come November. He can hang on with the hope of being someone’s running mate.

On the Republican side Fred Thompson is history. His was the most anticipated candidacy that went no where. And Rudy is history as well. He didn’t do well at all. Ron Paul is now dead in the water. He polled worse than expected and he can’t blame the publicity on his hateful newsletters for that -- the news only broke after the voting started and didn’t get wide enough play to materially impact the total. Paul was failing without help from his own newsletter. But add that to his poor showings and he’s out of there. Maybe now his fans will understand that flooding on-line polls isn’t the real world.

And I think Huckabee is a goner. He’ll do well in some other states. But that man can’t win the presidency. The fundies may have enough influence in the Theopublican Party to put Huck in as a kamikaze candidate -- the last last hurrah of the dying theocratic vision -- but I suspect that more sane Republicans will want to save the party from total oblivion and that is why McCain and Romney will share a ticket in November. If the Democrats were smart they go with with Obama and Clinton in second position. A lot of people who don’t trust Hillary as president might be willing to have her as vice president. At least under the Democrats the president actually runs the White House not the Vice President -- something not true today.

If you want to hear an interview with Mr. Kirchick click below.

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