I don’t often agree with Mark Steyn — this may be the first time, in fact — but I’ve got to agree with him today.
The real story of the night, when you look at their rallies and their turn-out numbers, is that the Dems have two strong candidates either of whom could lead a united party to victory. Forget the gaseous platitudes: in Dem terms, their choice on Super Duper Tuesday was deciding which candidate was Super Duper and which was merely Super. Over on the GOP side, it was a choice between Weak & Divisive or Weaker & Unacceptable.
Steyn also says,
There was an explicit anti-Romney vote in the south. A mere month ago, in the wake of Iowa and New Hampshire, I received a ton of emails from southern readers saying these pansy northern states weren’t the “real” conservative heartland, and things would look different once the contest moved to the south. Well, the heartland spoke last night and about the only message it sent was that, no matter what the talk radio guys say, they’re not voting for a Mormon no way no how.
The Mormonism may not be the only thing. Four years ago, along with the swift boating, the GOP did a bang-up job characterizing John Kerry as an effete rich snot from (wink, nudge) Massachusetts. If you ask me, Mitt makes John look common, just as he makes John “Breck Girl” Edwards seem like testosterone on wheels. As Skippy says, “super tuesday has come and gone, and about the only thing that has been decided is what a loser mitt romney is.”
We also learned yesterday that southern Republican voters will not follow Rush Limbaugh off a cliff. Heh.
On the Dem side — although I don’t think the final delegate counts are established, but it still seems to be close to an even split between Clinton and Obama. Even so, some of the bobbleheads are already counting out Obama as an also-ran. Clinton won by not losing. California spoke for the nation. And, of course, Democrats lose by being Democrats. Lance Mannion writes,
The blonde, who is tougher in the mornings than I am, checked in at the New York Times website and found that Adam Nagourney has managed to see yesterday’s excitement as a loss for both Clinton and Obama. How did they both lose by winning a lot? Well, they’re Democrats, and the Democrats are divided, while the Republicans are rallying round.
I forgot one of the basic rules of Insider Thumbsucking: Everything that happens is bad news for the Democrats.
Third pot of coffee update: This Times editorial acknowledges that the Republicans look a little divided too. But the Democrats are worse divided. And of course Hillary’s being divisive.
Among us leftie bloggers and activists there’s a lot of back-channel Clinton versus Obama arguing going on in various listservs. Awhile back Michelle Obama said she would “have to think about” supporting Clinton if she’s the nominee. This has been turned into a blanket accusation by some Clintonistas that Obama supporters are losers who don’t understand political reality.
I think everyone needs to chill out. I clearly remember four years ago stumbling into nests of Deaniacs who swore they’d support no other Dem but Dean in the general election. Somehow, by November, this vow had been forgotten.
Clinton supporters paint themselves as pragmatists and call Obama supporters hopeless romantics, but in the past couple of days I’ve had close encounters with some Clinton supporters who were far more hysterical than rational. For example, one told me that a black man couldn’t possibly win in the South. (And Hillary Clinton could?) I’ve also been told Obama will disappoint me. Listen, politicians always disappoint me. I expect it. But the Clintons collectively have left me with a long list of disappointments that I doubt Obama could ever match. There are rumors Obama is some kind of right-wing Manchurian Candidate who will prove to be a Bush clone if he becomes POTUS. I say anyone who actually believes that has gone way beyond hysterical and is heading toward psychotic.
As candidates, both Obama and Clinton have strengths and weaknesses that, as the delegate count suggests, pretty much balance out. I agree with Josh Marshall:
The only arguments for one side or the other being a winner here come down to airy and finally meaningless arguments about expectations. And the result tells a different tale. It’s about delegates. It’s dead even. You’ve got two well-funded candidates who’ve demonstrated an ability to power back from defeats. And neither is going anywhere.
Update: John Cole says,
Obama won more states, won more delegates, improved his numbers with key groups, widened his lead among minority voters, and over-all, outperformed Hillary. Period. The fact that the Clinton established machine has not been able to pull ahead should be a real clear sign of how much trouble they are in right now. This race was Hillary’s to lose, and last night she may have started doing just that. You will hear the Clinton camp talking repeatedly about winning the big prize- California. Winning California is irrelevant, as a Democrat is going to win Cali in the general regardless who it is.