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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

January 3, 2008


On Iowa

In response to my haste in publishing last night's Note From a Madman, Kevin writes:

I love your blog – but I just had to tell you : Iowa is the HAWKEYE state not the Buckeye State.

I live in NJ now but I grew up in Iowa.

Keep up the good work!! I depend on you.


All I can say is I'm very sorry Kevin. I'm going to blame it on next week's BCS National College Football championship bowl game, which has the LSU Tigers facing the Ohio State BUCKEYES.

Yep - that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it. -NG

As I finish writing/ reviewing tonight's Note From a Madman, MSNBC and CNN has declared Barack Obama the winner in a close race in the Iowa caucuses with both John Edwards and Hillary Clinton a close second and third (not necessarily in that order). All channels have declared Mike Huckabee the winner on the GOP side.

On the Dem side, all three front-runners are bunched up at the first turn and it truly is a three horse race (although Bill "Hard Six" Bennett says it's over for Edwards). We shall see.


And as for my predictions... nobody's perfect.

On to New Hampshire!

-Noah Greenberg

The Beginning Of The End Of Bush

In Jan. 2007, Newsweek conducted a poll asking Americans if "they wish the Bush presidency [were] simply over." Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they did, including 59 percent of independents and 21 percent of Republicans. Today in Iowa, the final chapter of President Bush's two terms in office will begin to unfold as an estimated 200,000 to 240,000 voters participate in the first nominating battle of the 2008 election. With Bush's approval rating hovering around 33 percent -- and with roughly 67 percent of Americans believing that the country is on the "wrong track" -- a common thread running through the campaigns of the candidates from both parties is the need for a break from the policies and passions of the Bush years. Last month, Democratic pollster Peter Hart and Republican pollster Bill McInturff surveyed whether Americans were looking for "small adjustments," "to turn the page," or to start "a brand new book." Respondents preferred "a brand new book" by a margin of 17 percentage points over "turn the page" and 22 percentage points over "small adjustments." As the Des Moines Register editorializes today, for a country yearning for a new beginning, participants in the Iowa caucuses have "a more awesome responsibility this year than ever" to pick someone who can fix the problems wrought by eight years of Bush.

RUNNING AWAY FROM BUSH: On MSNBC's Hardball last month, host Chris Matthews asked Sen. John McCain (R-TX): "Should the Bushies vote for you because you're the closest thing to keeping him in for a third term?" Instead of embracing the President, McCain laughed awkwardly before saying, "I hope they would vote for me because they recognize the challenges, particularly in national security." McCain isn't the only conservative avoiding comparisons to Bush. In a recent CNN debate, Bush's name was never once mentioned by any of the candidates from his own party. Writing in Foreign Affairs, former Republican Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee directly criticized the Bush administration for having an "arrogant bunker mentality" that "has been counterproductive at home and abroad." Huckabee's rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, originally attacked him over his criticism, saying he owed Bush an apology, but now Romney is "distancing himself from his party's unpopular president" by calling him a bad manager.

THE CHANGE ARGUMENT: "After a yearlong campaign in Iowa, the Republican and Democratic presidential front-runners are boiling down their arguments to a six-letter word: change," writes Bloomberg's Julianna Goldman. Though each candidate has a different idea of what form that change should take and how it can best be delivered, almost all of them are arguing that it is necessary. In a recent event in Indianola, IA, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) mentioned the word "change" 21 times. In his televised closing argument yesterday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) asked, "Who can take us in a fundamentally new direction?" Romney says he wants to bring the "spirit of change" to Washington, DC. "If we don't make some changes to the way we do business in this country," argues Huckabee, "there won't be enough of an America left to still be fighting for." Former Democratic senator John Edwards tells crowds that "unless you've got a president who's willing to take on" special interests to which the Bush administration catered, "nothing's going to change." Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who has raised more money this quarter than any other Republican, considers himself "a genuine true believer that this country is ready for a real change."

WAITING FOR JAN. '09: At the recent United Nations conference in Bali on climate change, former vice president Al Gore told representatives from countries around the world that "over the next two years, the United States is going to be somewhere it is not now. You must anticipate that." As Gore argues, the real progress on important issues such as climate change that Americans urgently desire will unfortunately have to wait until the next president takes office. On issue after issue, Americans want results that the current administration is unwilling to work towards. In November, 73 percent of Americans said the U.S. health care system is either in a "state of crisis" or has "major problems" while 64 percent said that "it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have health coverage." Sixty-three percent say the Iraq war is not worth the cost it exerts on the United States. A recent CBS/New York Times poll found that nearly 50 percent of Americans say troops should return in less than a year, and nearly 25 percent want withdrawal in under two years.

-From David W.

In response to last night's "Through My Crystal Ball", Chris Tennant writes:

Are You Out of Your Mind, Noah? But, hey! Do NOT remove me from your list! ;-)

Just read your predictions for tonight's Iowa Caucus and must say that it's anyone's guess as to who is going to come out on top, especially in the case of the Democrat contenders. However, my own predictions are that on the Democrat side, Obama just might emerge as the winner tonight, followed by Edwards, then Hillary. Apropos of Obama, Richardson and Kucinich have both told their supporters to join Obama's camp, should they fail to achieve the 15% minimum required tonight to remain in the running there.

As for the other side (whatever that might be, given the way things are going), I would place my bet on Huckabee [Ugh!], then Romney, followed by Ron Paul. As far as McCain and Guiliana are concerned, I don't think either one of them have a chance in hell in Iowa.

But, then, does it really make any difference who comes out on top tonight, since we probably won't even have an election this November anyway? I am still firmly convinced that the worst is yet to come, that there is no way that Bush intends to leave office, let alone go out with a whimper. After all, in addition to raising the spectre of an attack on Iraq, he can now expand chaos abroad by intervening in Pakistan, justifying it by supporting Musharraf's claim that Al-Qaeda was responsible for Bhutto's assassination. In any event, Bush has any number of so-called "national-security reasons" for declaring martial law and postponing the elections.

Sorry, Noah, if I sound a bit skeptical about the political situation in our country but, having lived in a police state overseas for ten years, I can assure you that this country is already taking on the same political configuration when it comes to revisionist policies and blatant infringement of the rights and privacy of individual citizens.

And I respond:

Out of my mind? Me? Well this is called Note From a Madman, isn't it?


And Billie Spight responds to both of us:

Suspension of elections in 2008--yow! Now I am really getting the willies. Eww.

The Huckabee thing scares the crap out of me!

I think if Bush tried to suspend elections there would be full-scale revolution here to depose him. He cannot get away with that. But I wouldn't put it past him to attempt to rig the election and scare more people with fake bin Laden tapes.


And Lew Warden opines:

So you’re supporting Edwards! Good boy. You’ll be happy to know that I was so pleased the way John put that CBS troll Bob Schieffer, who runs the Sunday morning program Face the Nation, that I send John a hundred bucks of my hard earned Social Security stipend courtesy of The Howard Beale Memorial Society.

Booby Bob tried to take him down with a shot about “storming the Bastille” and being called a “populist,” as if the latter were a dirty word, and John replied that he was a fighter, that he had spent 20 years of his life fighting the insurance companies and big corporations who rule this country and he was going to keep on doing so. Bob quickly changed the subject and exited with egg all over his face. So I hope Edwards wins.

But God he looked tired! Deep grooves in his once rosy cheeks. These primaries are killers. We have to do something about this rush for earlier and earlier primaries and longer and longer campaigns, or we’re going to have some good men die along the way.

But just about any other way of handling it will play into the hands of the big money boys.

My dream Dem ticket, which would come out of a deadlocked convention, would be Joe Lieberman for president with Edwards as his running mate. A great combo to appeal to the great majority of voters of both parties. And flush the Republicans down the toilet for a couple of generations. It might evolve into a responsible Libertarian party, if these is such a possible thing as a responsible Libertarian.

All I have to say is, to each his own, Lew. -NG

And Dorothy Schwartz writes:

I say Obama. His supporters will come out in the snow; they're young and bold. I'm judging by my 20 something son, who has said if Obama is nominated he'll vote, otherwise he won't bother. (He lives in Florida, which I believe has been disenfranchised primary-wise.)

Get him out to the polls, Dorothy. We'll need all of the young men and women we can get to win this thing in November. -NG

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-Noah Greenberg