Welcome to Texas: home of the most ludicrous, convoluted, and downright screwy Democratic primary system in America. Actually, it’s not even a primary; it’s a primary-caucus hybrid, the electoral equivalent of the turducken.
With floor debate heating up over two bills introduced by Russ Feingold, Congress is back debating Iraq. Republicans are confident they can argue the surge is working (cf. here for an alternative assessment), and Democrats are rolling out a new war critique in order to frame the issue for the 2006 2008 election.
The McCain campaign just sent out an email to supporters excoriating the New York Times for its "scurrilous attack against a great American hero." "Objective observers," the email says, "are viewing this article exactly as they should--as a sleazy smear attack from a liberal newspaper against the conservative Republican frontrunner." Listed among objective observers: "Washington attorney Bob Bennett, who was the Democrat counsel during the Keating investigation." No mention of the fact that Bob Bennett is actually McCain's lawyer, specifically hired to defend McCain against the NYT's allegat
As previously noted, Hawaii caucus turnout has never been above 5,000. The Obama camp's pie-in-the-sky prediction was 18,000. Final tally? 37,247. --Barron YoungSmith
Despite Hillary's aggressive attempt to mobilize the local machine, early news from Hawaii sounds good for Obama. Caucus turnout--which has never exceeded 5,000--is expected to reach as high as 12,000 (the Obama people are saying 15,000-18,000). As Noam pointed out, very high turnout is probably good for Obama. It sounds like history may be on his side, too: [P]arty activists said the last time they can recall so much interest in the caucuses was in 1988, when the Rev. Jesse Jackson brought new people to the party but ultimately lost here to Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis.
Thanks largely to Ron Paul, the idea of switching to the gold standard is back in circulation. Even on this website, libertarian Alvaro Vargas Llosa advocated it, complaining that "money was too important to be left to the politicians," and Tucker Carlson credulously speculated that Ron Paul's gold fixation might mean "the Ron Paul movement is more sophisticated than most journalists understand." But it turns out that switching to the gold standard is a terrible idea.
Barack Obama will probably win Hawaii on February 19. He does have a "home state" advantage and an organizational edge, since the state has a caucus. But here's something to ponder: almost 60% of Hawaiians are Asian Americans--as Isaac pointed out, by far the most anti-Obama demographic in the United States in the primaries thus far.
Setting up their February 5 caucus, Montana Republicans took one look at Wyoming’s closed, convoluted (pro-Romney) caucus system--which provides little opportunity for public participation--and decided it was too democratic. As Montana GOP director Chris Wilcox explained to me, the party streamlined the system so only precinct representatives and elected or appointed officials can caucus (thus eliminating the unwieldy process of voter involvement). If this libertarian state ran an open primary, McCain might have a chance.
Missouri is “a relentlessly average state”--according to University of Missouri professor David Robertson--with an economy that mimics the national economy, and demographics similar to the nation as a whole. “Missouri is a natural laboratory” of American politics, Robertson says--if it’s happening there, there’s a good bet it’s happening countrywide. The primaries also echo national trends: Obama and Clinton are tied, pitting the Democratic establishment against the party's “mavericks” and Obama’s strong local organization (which benefits from volunteers out of nearby Illinois).
An ABC analyst just asked Mike Huckabee if the campaign "got too acrimonious" during an interview. "Oh, I think you're going to see one of the most civil campaigns you've seen in a long time," he responded--all the while smirking like he just ate the canary. --Barron YoungSmith