Politics

Did the Clintons learn?

Question of the day: What, if anything, did Hillary and Bill Clinton learn from the drubbing they received Saturday in the South Carolina Democratic primary?

Yes, we know, Bill is not on the ballot but this primary election has become as much a referendum on the former President and his campaign tactics as it is on his wife’s race for the White House. His rough-and-tumble, take-no-prisoners style has rankled rank and file Democrats and led to calls that he either tone down the campaign rhetoric or just shut up and go away.

Clinton’s enormous ego, however, will never allow him to do either and — for now at least — his wife appears content to let him play bad cop in their quest to return to the White House as a roles-reversed power couple.

But South Carolina voters sent the Clintons a message of repudiation Saturday, a stern warning that the politics of divisiveness doesn’t play along with a clear message that they want a candidate that unites, not divides, a nation.

Obama routs Clinton in South Carolina primary

Senator Barack Obama has won the South Carolina Democratic primary by a substantial margin, easily defeating Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

Obama pulled in more votes than all his opponents combined, collecting 57 percent from a record turnout of South Carolina voters. Clinton trailed far behind with 26 percent and Edwards came in a distant third with 18 percent. The broadcast networks declared Obama the winner within seconds of the polls closing at 7 p.m.

The value of a vote

I am always amazed at the number of people who are willing to say on national television that they decide for whom they will vote in presidential primaries when they enter the polling booth. Their lackadaisical attitude is disheartening.

If there is one thing we have in this country, it is an abundance of sources and people extolling the virtues — or weaknesses — of the candidates. Why is it we follow with more interest the ups and downs of reality-show contestants than the records and opinions of those vying to become our next president?

Thompson lacked substance

Post-mortems on Fred Thompson’s short presidential run focus on how the actor and former senator ran his campaign. Started late, poorly managed, lack of enthusiasm, etc.

But these analyses miss the more fundamental, and instructive, problem — his message. Touted as the only “real conservative,” a careful look shows that this label was pretty dubious. His ideas were devoid of the vision and leadership that fueled Republican ascendancy a quarter-century ago and badly needed today.

Timeout on political ads

With the closest thing we have to a national presidential primary coming just two days after the Super Bowl, some fear that the sports sanctity of the football championship might be sullied by the presence of political ads.

Several campaigns investigated investing in super-expensive Super Bowl spots, figuring that might be an efficient way of advertising in the 22 states that hold contests on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5.

But the Fox TV network, which will air the contest, just decreed that the broadcast will remain a politics-free zone, at least on the national level.

It’s really scary out there

I don’t know about you, but the closer we get to finding out who will be the GOP and Democratic presidential nominees, the edgier I become.

As the mud flies, all the candidates seem to be shrinking in stature. Yesterday’s glimmerings of statesmen are today’s campaign flimflam artists.

As candidates drop by the wayside, those remaining are less like beacons of hope than spotlights aimed uncomfortably right at the eye.

When it’s time to quit

What kind of ego drives a man to continue for years to seek an office he has no chance of winning? Particularly when that job is the presidency of the United States, a position that requires the occupant to have masochistic tendencies?

Stop! Go! Beware!

With Mike Huckabee down and Fred Thompson out in Florida, Tuesday’s Sunshine State primary promises a three-way brawl among Rudolph Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney. Voters there, and beyond, should regard these three candidates like lamps in a traffic signal.

Hillary’s defender-in-chief

It started with dismissive talk of a fairy tale, then deteriorated into more of a nightmare.

As he campaigns for his wife, Bill Clinton has been taking aim at her rival Barack Obama and the media with increasing rancor, trading the roles of elder statesman and supportive spouse for that of attack dog.

Obama is scrapping, too, going after the former president with increasingly heated criticism, and getting testy with reporters himself at times.