Spin patrol: The best and worst on Iowa results

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama
REUTERS/Keith Bedford
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama speaks to supporters after winning the Iowa caucus in Des Moines.

Good Friday morning, fellow seekers:

Just watched several hours of CNN coverage of the Iowa results. I know I’m supposed to hate it all, but mostly pretty decent, methinks. I was looking for spin, from the candidates and their spokesters, plus the best and worst of the analysis. Here are a few takeaways:

Most Amazing Fact: According to the entrance polls, Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton among women.

Second Most Amazing Fact: Total turnout was up about 100 percent.

Most consistent pundit analysis point: Although he finished fourth, it was a great night for John McCain, because it damages Mitt Romney heading into their New Hampshire matchup Tuesday.

Good manners: In their concession speeches, Romney congratulated Mike Huckabee on his victory; Clinton congratulated Obama, but John Edwards did not congratulate Obama.

Toughest, most desperate sounding spin: Edwards, claiming that the results were a repudiation of Clinton (but not, of course, of himself, even though they were in a virtual tie) and turn the Dem side into a two-man race between himself and Obama over which one is the better agent of change.

On the pundit side, there were a lot more comments describing Edwards as having one foot in the political grave than felt that way about Clinton. One of my beliefs about Bill Clinton’s political survival is that he simply didn’t know how to quit. Only president since before Eisenhower to lose both Iowa and New Hampshire. Unlike Nixon on the eve of impeachment, Clinton didn’t quit. Don’t really know if this transfers to his wife, but it resonated with me when David Gergen said: “The Clintons are nothing if not resilient.”

On the other hand, by John King, referring to the challenge facing Sen. Clinton because of the compressed schedule: “It is hard to stop a bounce like he [Obama] will get from tonight in five short days.”

Gergen on the Repub race: “This scrambles the race. No one knows where this is going.” (I’m a sucker for people who admit they don’t know things.)

Please don’t try to brainwash me department: When Rudy Giuliani was interviewed, he sat in front of a background screen that said, over and over and over: “Tested. Ready. Now.” Show me, don’t tell me.

Second most desperate-sounding spin: Romney, while acknowledging Huckabee’s victory, congratulated himself for beating three household names: McCain, Giuliani, Fred Thompson.

Dumbest question not asked by Larry King: Wolf Blitzer asked Giuliani if he would be “rooting” for McCain in New Hampshire. Giuliani’s reply: “I’m rooting for myself.”

Funniest line (by Jack Cafferty, commenting on the historical nature of Obama winning Iowa): “Iowa’s the whitest place outside of the North Pole.”

Dumbest analsysis point (although I will confess that others made similar points, presumably because they treat Clinton as if she was an incumbent president) spoken by Carl Bernstein: “It’s worse than just that she finished in third place. Seventy percent of Democrats in Iowa voted against Hillary Clinton.” (By that logic, Thursday was also a pretty bad night for Obama, because 62 percent of Democrats didn’t vote for him, and for Huckabee because … )

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by David Brauer on 01/04/2008 - 11:22 am.

    Trivia note on Cafferty:

    He knows whereof he speaks, re: Iowa. When I was a kid growing up in Des Moines, he was an anchorman there, on WHO. Not nearly as curmudgeonly then, in his helmet-hair prime. Like Paul Magers, he soon decamped for a major market, in Cafferty’s case, New York.

    Admittedly, it was many years ago, but I’m surprised his Hawkeye history wasn’t noted much, if at all, during CNN’s Iowapalooza.

  2. Submitted by Christina Capecchi on 01/04/2008 - 12:07 pm.

    Sorest loser: Mitt Romney, who chose to give his speech while Huckabee gave his

    Most tired-looking spouse: Bill Clinton, whose eyes were red and puffy

    Stiffest anchor: Brian Williams, who never turned to look at Tim Russert as he spoke, opting to intensely stare into the camera

  3. Submitted by John Olson on 01/04/2008 - 01:36 pm.

    This just in:

    An overwhelming majority of Iowans are *thrilled* the caucuses are finally over so they (and their mailboxes and telephones) can return to some semblance of a normal life.

    🙂

  4. Submitted by Brad Lundell on 01/04/2008 - 03:10 pm.

    The thing that struck me about the punditry was their insistence on a McCain revival. I’m not going to say that isn’t going to happen, but the Huckabee train getting onto the track may not, in the end, be good news for McCain (or any of the other Republicans).

    I’m old enough to remember the 1964 Republican race (barely) and Goldwater’s early surprises spawned an “anybody but Goldwater” movement early in the game. Rockefeller’s later implosion removed all realistic barriers to Goldwater’s nomination (although William Scranton and Richard Nixon made efforts).

    The historical point I’m trying to make is that Huckabee’s win establishes him as a viable candidate and that cannot be overlooked by the media or wished away by his opponents. He probably won’t do that well in New Hampshire, but he’s leading South Carolina in most polls and that should solidify his standing, at least early on. It all may evaporate for him, but he is clearly in the game.

    This isn’t 1964. Not even close. The political half-life on things that happen during campaigns are shorter than an outbreak of Britney Spears’ sobreity. But unless Huckabee goes totally belly-up in the next week, he may be in for the long haul.

  5. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 01/04/2008 - 08:36 pm.

    The biggest loser is a “reporter” who gets all of his news from CNN.

  6. Submitted by John Olson on 01/07/2008 - 08:17 am.

    The next biggest losers are those who put blind faith in only one source of news and always assume that it is “accurate” because the talking head says so. And the talking head has made a gazillion dollars selling their myopic view of the world.

    Isn’t democracy wonderful? 🙂

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