Man Without Qualities

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Hope For Edwards?

Mickey Kaus says "yes!" [Also, scroll down for lots of top quality Zogby bashing!]

Mickey points to this Greg Abbott post that argues that Clark is trashing Edwards to weaken Edwards in South Carolina - which, of course, is exactly what the Man Without Qualities has been arguing essentially follows as a corollary to Dick Morris' Clinton alarums.

But John Ellis argues (I think) that if Clark trashes Edwards now then that helps Kerry win New Hampshire by 20 points, which is not good for Clark! But Clark (or Lehane) may think that Kerry's New Hampshire win won't mean much because he's a favorite son there. For example, Bill Clinton's strong second-place showing in New Hampshire primary — behind former Sen. Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts — enabled him to dub himself the "comeback kid" because Tsongas' "win" was discounted as a merely a "favorite son" effect in comparision to the strong showing by the Southerner. It is much more important for Clark to show strength in South Carolina - where Clark is not a favorite son but Edwards is. Of course, it's also very important for Clark to stop Edwards from showing too much strength in New Hampshire, where Edwards is anything but a favorite son. And if Clark/Lehane are sliming Edwards, they are probably trying to slime Kerry, too.

But, dear me, John Ellis is probably right that if Clark is trashing Edwards, then there is a big risk that Clark and Edwards may both get savaged in the process - one way or the other. In fact, if either of them (but especially favorite son Edwards) doesn't do well in South Carolina, that will likely leave the poor performer weakened through the rest of the camapign - but enhance Al Sharpton's results throughout the South and the African American community generally. Clark and Edwards should care about all that - but the Clintons don't, and Clark advisor Lehane really works for them.

As things look now, John Kerry will not after New Hampshire have taken or even threatened to take anything near a majority anywhere - even his own back yard. Heck, Kerry and Dean combined hardly claim a majority now in New Hampshire, where they are both favorite sons from adjoining states. What's more, John Ellis cogently observes that Kerry has now officially peaked in New Hampshire and Dean is apparently in a tailspin (although Zogby says Dean has had a small one-day bounce), so their combined vote is likely to shrink, if anything.

The chances of a brokered convention in which Al Sharpton carries a good deal of weight seem to be growing, if anything. Yes, right now John Kerry is looking strong. But John Kerry in South Carolina and the rest of the South? Please. The image of John Kerry tucked into a breakfast of shad roe and grits would be worse than seeing Michael Dukakis tucked into that tank.

Similarly, not even Senator Edwards' most unhinged and infatuated media admirers are suggesting that he will likely command a majority of delegates or anything close to it walking into the convention. The speculation now is on his viability.

Dean? Clark? Yes, they may be shrinking (although the polls seem unreliable and inconsistent at least as to the degree of shrinkage) - but nothing fatal, yet.

The prospect of being offered the vice-presidency has likely kept several of these contenders going for some time. That prospect alone may keep Clark, Edwards, Dean and even Kerry (and Sharpton!) going until the end of this very short primary season. That further increases the chances of a brokered convention.

Suppose John Kerry emerges as the nominee from a brokered convention in which he failed to command even a majority of Democratic delegates and in which Al Sharpton has a big say in cutting the final deal. Is such a nominee likely to be a strong contender in the general election?

After the dust settles on the highly probable Kerry loss to Bush, the Clintons could turn to the African American community and point out: We made you strong in Boston in 2004! Now help us in 2008!

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