Wednesday, 23 April 2008

American Politics in a nutshell

The story so far....

The Democrats have got down to 2 contenders, and they're neck and neck. One's Black, the other's Female. Hillary Rodham Clinton is a dirtier fighter, but is behind on votes. Will she pull some take it all the way to the wire, or rather the convention? I think so. Barrack Hussein Obama is ahead by a nose, despite his recent loss in Pennsylvania, but Clinton has a well-deserved reputation for dubious backroom deals.

From SFGate :
Sen. Hillary Clinton got the lifesaving victory she needed in Pennsylvania today, moving the Democratic presidential primary showdown - and her gritty hand-to-hand combat with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama - to Indiana, where the New York senator is slightly ahead in the polls and desperately behind in cash.

Emerging from a brawling six-week-long Pennsylvania primary with a win, but facing the hurdles of beating the mathematical odds to win the Democratic presidential nomination, Clinton called her win, hovering near double digits over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, decisive evidence that "the tide is turning" in the Democratic presidential race.
Clinton's margin of victory in Pennsylvania, where she was outspent by Obama at least 2-1, is unlikely to dramatically change the landscape of the Democratic presidential race. In That's because delegate-rich urban areas like Philadelphia - where Obama's strength in heavily African American districts delivered him 69 percent of the vote - are heavily weighted in the awarding of delegates.

But her win does gives the New York Senator leverage to argue to 300-plus superdelegates - who are likely to break the down-to-the-wire deadlock between the two Democratic contenders - that she is the stronger candidate in powerful, voter-rich states and a more robust general election candidate come fall.

Both Democratic candidates are running attack ads, but it's their partisan supporters who are really dishing the dirt. And there's plenty of dirt to dish, on both sides.

Meanwhile, the Republican candidate, McCain, is doing very little. Spending very little anyway. He doesn't have to do more than get the choicest bits of Obama's or Clinton's attack ads, edit them a bit, repackage them, and then produce two sets of concentrated venom - one for each candidate. So the day that the Democrat contender is known, he either presses button A or button B, adds his own pro-Republican constructive material, and he's home and hosed. And he can quite justifiably state that it's the Democrats themselves who endorse the anti-Obama (or anti-Clinton) material.

And the war-chests of both Democrats have been largely spent on auto-cannibalism.

That shows a very self-destructive trend that's always existed, more or less, in US politics. Partisanship is taken to ridiculous extremes. Now that's balanced by the far more loose, even slack, grip of party whips. In Australia, a vote along anything other than party lines is rare indeed. If one Senator crosses the floor over an issue, it's front-page news, and the defector can expect severe retaliation, up to and including expulsion from the party, unless there are very exceptional circumstances. In the US, it's almost universal that votes will not be on exact party lines.

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