I think one overlooked aspect of all of this is how political power filters out in so many ways. Would the prosecutors like Iglesias come forward if they knew there wasn't anyone in Congress with the power to follow their lead and run cover for them after they went public? Would the WaPo push a story like the Walter Reed scandal as hard if there wasn't the likelihood of Congressional hearings to extend the story? Would any of these stories have the second or third gear without a Democratic Congress?
There is a serious downside to going forward with these stories or public challenges. Without the upside possible with a Democratic Congress, the cost might outweigh the benefits for someone like Iglesias.
For all the frustration we have about Iraq, FoxNevada, Lieberman giving radio addresses for Democrats, etc, etc ... it's good to notice how different so many parts of the political/media landscape is with Democrats in charge.
Those are a couple of the more odd practices/beliefs of Mormonism, but I think the bigger questions are more direct. Like, "Do you believe the Bible is the final word of God?" Or, "Do you believe the revelations of the current head of the LDS Church are the direct word from God?" Or, perhaps most devastating, "Do you believe there have been other prophets since Jesus Christ?"
That's where Southern Baptists would really have a problem, the doctrine of "continual revelation" and the role of the head of the LDS Church as a "prophet" ... in fact, it wouldn't even take a question or a direct statement from Romney. Some direct mailers and viral emails stating Romney's beliefs "as a Mormon" would be enough, probably. "Do you know that Mitt Romney doesn't believe in Jesus Christ as the final prophet of God's Word?" How could he overcome that?
That Mitt Romney is the biggest panderer I think I've ever seen. He's awful. I can't believe anyone falls for the whole "we'll trot out Ann Coulter to throw y'all some red meat" schtick ... but they seem to.
I'd get hives at such an event.
The whole act seems a little like an old, seedy carnival that's past its prime, but the calliope wheezes on and the barkers keep barking ...
It's not too shabby. $1 million from the generally small-donor pool of the online activists is pretty good at this point. Generally they are people who can and will give more, too, so it's a nice base of support. He's doing pretty well raising money, it seems.
He'll have enough money to be competitive, but his overall fundraising will probably lag further behind the big two as the year goes out.
I still like Richardson a lot. He's still the guy I'll probably support in the primary due to his work on my two most important issues (diplomacy over war, and energy).
And, yeah, he has a natural niche, and he has a knack for retail politics that can gain him support in the early states.
But ... there's just a total abdication of anything but celebrity journalism by our political press. It's extraordinary how content-free the coverage has gotten. I knew this before, but what's changed for me is that I don't think Obama can be brought down by a media backlash. Britney Spears still has many, many fans. And, to our country's great detriment, that's more of an analog to our political process than is the 1976 rise of Jimmy Carter. And I just don't think Obama will make any real mistake. He has rhetorical skills that are head and shoulder above any other politician for quite a few years.
Richardson is not sunk, but he's really got to thread a very small needle. He has to exceed expectations in Iowa against two super-stars and a third guy who's very well known and popular in the state, win Nevada (which is doable), and then do very well in NH (I'd say he needs to win it). So far, I don't see enough of an understanding of what plays in NH to think they can pull off the NH part of things. But there's still time ... so it's possible. But the Dean situation was pretty unusual.
I'm really coming around on Obama, regarding both his viability and my personal preferences. I don't think any rational assessment would call him the front-runner, but I just have a feeling he's going to take the nomination. He's really a top-flight rhetorical politician, and experience means far less than celebrity in today's campaigns.
His 1Q fundraising is probably going to be enormous. I don't think he'll catch Clinton right away, but it'll probably be closer than most think. His grass-roots organization will top Clinton's in passion and size. I think he'll do extremely well in NH. NH may be retail, but it's heavily personality-driven. And while Obama is probably the most progressive viable candidate in the race, his personality is extremely attractive to NH independents. I'm from NH, and everyone I talk to, from my Fox News-watching mother-in-law to my "libertarian" high school friend to my liberal sister, loves Obama. It's extraordinary.
It's too early to say this, but as it looks now, if Obama wins Iowa, he takes the nomination. Even if he doesn't, I like his chances. I used to think Richardson had a decent shot to break into the top tier, but I just don't see Obama giving up enough oxygen to allow that to happen. He's charismatic enough to still be interesting a year from now.
But what has he done to make that happen? And I don't mean that as a slam on Edwards at all ... he has enough to do building his campaign infrastructure. Which is my point ... Edwards and Obama and Richardson are saying good things, but they aren't providing any pressure on the process besides rhetorical pressure.