Wednesday, January 09, 2008

“You Go Girl!”

In just a few words about the 1960s, the Economist’s “Lexington” nails what I’ve attempted to say about that decade in entry after entry: “The Democratic Party marginalised itself by shifting decisively to the left on everything from the war to sexual politics,” while Republicans hit on the winning formula of presenting themselves as “champion of the ‘silent majority.’” Lexington adds, “Republicans and Democrats have replayed these themes ever since” the 1960s, Republicans characterizing Democrats as “Harvard Yard hippies” and Democrats accusing Republicans of “repeating the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq.”

So along comes Obama, in Iowa charting for Democrats a hopeful path to a less-contentious future. Lexington quotes him saying (in words we already quoted), “Clinton and others, they've been fighting some of the same fights since the sixties, and it makes it very difficult for them to bring the country together to get things done.”

But if Iowa represented the future, Clinton’s New Hampshire victory represents a “not so fast!” yank back to the present. Democrats are still, at base, union members worried about their jobs. Old fashion Democrats like Clinton.

Yet it was women who provided Clinton's New Hampshire victory margin. In two sound bites—her “I’m hurt!” joking response to a question about her likeability on Saturday and her Monday wet-eyed answer to the question "how do you do it?"—Clinton reminded women that she is the standard bearer for the unfinished battle women care most about, and that as Clinton's emotion suggested, men still don't want women to win. Anyway, Karl Rove, among others, has pointed to the importance of Clinton's two emotional moments as the key to her victory.

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