Monday, January 14, 2008

Guess Who Won The Oh-So-Crucial "Coppersmith Primary"?

The Napolitano endorsement of Barack Obama took a lot of people by surprise, both in Arizona and nationally. I normally don't get to break political news when I have to file 3 days in advance of publication. And for those of you who like inside baseball, the Obama people were calling me and the other Richardson supporters in Arizona the day after the NH primary. Very interesting -- a very nimble campaign. Let's hope they can keep it up. I love the Richard Land quote, even if I hope I can live long enough to throw my dentures at him at the old folks' home, because on everything else he's WRONG WRONG WRONG.

East Valley Tribune, Jan. 13, 2008

As we political types differ from apes in zoos because we'll swallow anybody's offal, not just our own, I was truly surprised by the New Hampshire results. But it's a happy surprise, because suddenly, Arizona's Feb. 5 primary matters.

The GOP race already was pretty interesting, because Sen. John McCain -- despite relentless cheerleading by the other daily newspaper, which eight years later is still trying to make up for mentioning McCain's volcanic temper (scroll down to the fourth letter -- yes, Pat Murphy is still out there!) -- is anything but a favorite son. Arizona's presidential preference election is a "closed" primary, in which only those voters registered to a party can participate.

That means that while more than 28 percent of Arizona's registered voters are independents, they can't participate. (The 0.69 percent registered as Libertarians also can't participate, but they should have philosophical objections anyway.) New Hampshire exit polls showed McCain winning because of independents and losing among self-described conservatives to the recently-converted Mitt Romney, and self-described conservatives are the only people voting in Arizona GOP primaries.

Unfortunately for McCain, the only issue that seems to matter to GOP primary voters is his weakest, immigration. Mix in that independents can't vote, under-the-radar evangelical networking could deliver voters for Mike Huckabee, and some LDS identity politics could help Romney, so we just might get a competitive GOP primary in McCain's home state.

It's too late to open up the Feb. 5 vote to independents. Anyway, allowing independents to vote is opposed by state GOP chair Randy Pullen, who won't shed a tear if McCain loses.

As for the Democrats, after New Hampshire, I figured that Hillary Clinton wins Arizona, easily. Partially it's Bill Clinton's continuing popularity (Hey, Arizona -- how did that George W. Bush thing work out?), but it's also the apparently mass reaction, especially among older women, to the media's collective assault on Hillary, the whole "tears, wrinkles, brittleness, and her alleged cackle" business. It would be ironic if Bob Dole's 1996 unofficial campaign slogan "Annoy the Media!" sealed the deal for Hillary Clinton in 2008.

But two days ago, the only person who might make a difference in an Arizona Democratic primary, Gov. Janet Napolitano, endorsed Barack Obama. She was scheduled for a press conference, then a trip to Nevada for some campaigning. I still think Hillary is ahead here, but things just got much more interesting. And if you follow politics, there are fewer things more fun than having your state be "in play" for a maximum of four weeks, which is where we Arizonans find ourselves today. It's like being Ohio, but with better weather.

While my personal endorsement record, also known as the "kiss of death," remains unbroken (as an endorser for former Florida Sen. Bob Graham in 2004 and New Mexico Gov. Richardson this year, my personal mantra remains "Vote for the resume, not the awkward campaigner!"), I've also signed on with Obama, for my own idiosyncratic reasons. It's not so much policy disagreements, or hope vs. experience, as it is my deep desire that this election be about new arguments, not the old ones.

Michelle Cottle of The New Republic interviewed Dr. Richard Land, head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, who believes that just as we self-obsessed Baby Boomers have ruined popular music, we're keeping American politics as an oldies station. If Hillary wins, we'll have the last Boomer campaign, one last fight over our split over Vietnam. Land says the war may be over, but Boomers will never let the argument die: "We're going to be throwing our dentures at each other when we're in the old folks' home. The problem is our generation split over this, and we both still think we're right."

And as Boomers, it's all about the argument; what you actually did doesn't matter. That's why John Kerry has a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts, while Jon Kyl got two draft deferments, and guess whose patriotism gets questioned?

So I'm changing my radio station presets, no more oldies. And I'm endorsing Obama; no more Clinton Derangement Syndrome. Let's listen to something new instead.

No comments: