The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Hampshire

Being a political beast, Tananarive was more disappointed than I was about Hillary’s win last night. I’ve got nothing against Hillary (so sue me) and frankly, I would have been disappointed had she gone down like a punk, so to speak. After all, the Clinton’s are arguably America’s premier politicos right now. If Obama motored over them, he’s not quite human. And I’d kind of like a human being in the White House.

Also, if due to some odd set of factors he crushed her, we would learn nothing about him—although we’d learn a lot about those who support him, primarily their numbers.

Nope. You want someone who can dig in, and come back. Heck, people act as if there was some kind of gigantic upset. Really? Iowa was an upset. New Hampshire was Clinton performing closer to the way people predicted, but Obama doing better than National polls suggested. I think. It’s a horse-race.

In boxing terms, the Kid knocked the Champ on her duff in the first round, and then the Champ came back and outpointed him in the second. Ding Ding! Third round coming up…
I think most people in this country grasp that there are both internal and external factors that influence poverty. I’ve spent my whole life concentrating on the factors that an individual can influence: goal setting, focus, continuing education, building alliances, clarifying values, and so forth. The building of political coalitions or even participating in politics (beyond voting) has never really been my thing.

So for me, the best thing about Obama is that, win lose or draw, were I say 12 years old right now, I would have the opportunity to see a black man performing at the outer edge of human capacity in the arena of politics. Intelligent, focused, with a clear message and the ability to bond people to him and raise A HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS in a year. Beloved of a huge chunk of the country. Trust me, I never saw anything like that as a child. If I had, I would have had a clearer role model for success than I ever had. I might have decided on Law School, tried my hand at running for office, or at the very least extracted from his current success metaprinciples that could influence my own life.

As long as he doesn’t implode, or get caught on video having sex with a teenaged amputee, his campaign is nothing but gravy, regardless of what happens. I LOVE this. Trust me—if he loses, there will be black people who grouse “it was race.” Of course. Like there will be women who grouse if Hillary loses. Of course. But there will be millions of black children, and little girls, who say: “he got that close? She got that close? I COULD DO THAT. I COULD DO BETTER THAN THAT.”

Role models are fantastically important, really.
And a role model for women? If she gets elected, those who think she’s doing a good job get a powerful role model. If she DOES do a good job (by an impossible objective standard: every President has their defenders and detractors) its even better.
I don’t think it’s really possible to determine whether blacks or women have it worse. It would be necessary to decide on some set of standards, and that would be automatically somewhat arbitrary and subjective. It would be like looking at the score of a football game and deciding that the victors were better people.
Really, I would have no interest in “deciding” such a thing, although I do suggest my little experiment in asking black women—the only ones who could resolve the question, in my mind—for those who need a position. What I WOULD support is people being healthy, successful, and loving. Clear in their own values and committed to making a better world. Whatever such people choose to believe in and fight for, I think ultimately is for the good.

I believe in the basic evolutionary nature of human beings—in a spiritual sense as well as biological. Because that is the basic position I come from, I believe in us. I think that fear and greed, the “lowest” emotions, can be trusted to lift us up, if our eyes are clear and we actually engage with our lives fully. In my mind, all the lessons we need to become balanced human beings are applicable to also building a better world. So I concentrate my attention there, on individual health and balance, rather than on mass movements. Believe there is much to be done for group X? Go for it. Makes the world better for my daughter, or my son, or someone I care about…as long as you don’t diminish the humanity of group Y in the process, we’re cool.


Anonymous said...

truth to tell
on actual delegate count
Obama won!

don't know why this gets so lost
in the pundantry


Steve Perry said...

In politics, "win" is a malleable term. If you expect to win by nine or ten percent numbers-wise, and you "lose" by two percent, the spindocs have a field day.

The thing that isn't getting bandied about enough is that, failing some major shift, the Democratic party is going to field either a woman or a black man as its nominee for President of the United States, not a rich white guy.

Big history, no matter how you slice it.

Anonymous said...

I understand than in his post primary speech Obama said that he learned from the results that you can't just tell people your goals you have to give them a plan for how you are going to accomplish them. If he's worked that out he may be as smart as many think he is. I'll be interested in seeing these plans.

Steven Barnes said...

On MSNBC, Pat Robertson said that Obama ran a perfect campaign, and that the same percentage of people who polled for Obama voted for Obama. The big change for Hillary came after she cried, and the media played it endlessly. That New Hampshire women watched men beating up on a woman, and came out in droves to keep her from getting slaughtered. Interesting.

Frank said...


truth to tell on actual delegate count Obama won!

Actually, because of the Super-delegate system, Clinton as 183 delegates, Obama has 78, and Edwards has 52

This means that Clinton is still the Democratic Party Establishment favorite and it’s going to take a lot for Obama to overcome this.

The unions are working for her and when Edwards drops out, his union support will likely go to her too.

The Democratic Party is leery about allowing the rank and file pick it’s candidate (which to my mind is a metaphor for the Democrats demonstrated contempt for Democracy in general. Ironic huh?) and has been forever with the exception of the 1972 campaign. Before 1972, Party Bosses picked the nominee, in 1972 they opened it up to a direct democracy and McGovern was the result. The party didn’t like that either so they came up with the Super delegate system.

This year out of the 4049 available delagates, 796 are Super delegates. Super delegates are all 450 members elected to the DNC, plus all Democratic Governers, plus all Democratis members of Congress plus some others they throw in for the hell of it.

These people vote at the convention for whom ever they damn well please.

Right now Clinton has the vast majority of these in her pocket.

While the Republicans do have unpledged delegates, there is no analog to the Democrats Super-delegate system.

The way it works on the Republican side is that a certain number of delegates go proportionally to the candidates based on the results. The winner of the raw vote will earn all the unpledged delegates from that state.

Frank said...

Steve Barnes said

The big change for Hillary came after she cried, and the media played it endlessly.

Frankly, I don't think that did it. Remember yesterday when I said I was surprised to learn that Obama had a machine the equal to, if not superior of Clintons?

Well, I was clearly wrong. The Clinton machine, supported by the Party and the Unions got out the vote.

And the young 'uns didn't come in like they did in Iowa or like Obama had hoped.

Nevada will be the next test.

But Harry Reid has stacked the deck for Clinton...

B the II said...

loved the explanation of the superdelegate system, i was wondering what that was. And Obama and hillary basically tied in NH, the term 'win' is malleable and over-hyped.

Many people are also missing the fact that many independents played their cards in the republican primary. So, i'm thinking that McCain beat Obama much the way that they say Nader beat Gore

And i think the republican race is actually fighting for the 'soul' of the party, therefore it was actually more important to outline a republican mandate for McCain in New Hampshire to make a good showing than whether Obama or Hillary won.

Frank said...

Who voted for Obama?

From ABC News analysis

Obama won the male vote 40 to 29 percent while Hillary won women 46-34 and:

...among people with more than a high school education, Obama won by 3.

Moreover, among voters who said they're "getting ahead" financially (just 14 percent) Obama won by 17 points -- reflecting his better showing generally among upscale and better-educated voters. Among those holding steadily financially (the biggest group, 57 percent) Obama and Clinton split the vote, 39-38. But among the three in ten (28 percent) who are doing worse financially, it was Clinton 43 percent, Obama 33 percent -- enough to make the difference.

And in terms of party allegiance, Clinton won Democrats by 45-34 percent; Obama won independents -- 44 percent of all voters in this contest...

Fifty-four percent said they were most interested in a candidate who can "bring about needed change" -- the top attribute by a wide margin -- and they favored Obama over Clinton by 55-28 percent....

Obama won by a vast 60-22 percent among the very youngest voters, under 25 years old, but that subsided to a dead heat among those age 25-29...

Forty-four percent of Democratic voters picked him as the candidate who has the best chance to win the general election in November, vs. 35 percent who called Clinton the most electable...

In his strongest suit, Obama was the overwhelming choice for the candidate who would do the most to unite the country, 51 to 28 percent.

Anonymous said...


yeah right
the superdelegates are part of the governmental establishment
however that total of Hillary's
is an "estimate"
and as with all these things
it remains to be seen
which way they'll go

if Obama rolls up a large share
of delegates through the primaries
then I expect switches among 'em

as for Harry Reid
apparently he doesn't have the restaurant workers union
all pocketed for Hilary

I'm leaning toward Obama
because he's intelligent
and keeps his cool
hasn't been scummy
and knows how to use words
(not to mention I like what he's saying)

as to Hilary
(who is my Senator after all)
I really do not luike
the dynastic approach
to the presidency
I'd even be in favor of
ruling out sons and brothers and spouses holding the office

I think infusions of the young[er]
and the unjaded
and the diversely backgrounded
are necessary to a healthy government

I'm for moving away from isolationism
and drawing lines in the sand
and my way or the highway
and saddling future generations with unbelieveable debt

I'm for
get off my back
about religion and
hypocritical morality
about what I do with my body
what I put into it
or remove from it
and for a better allocation of health care resources
and for putting a rein
on the damage we are doing to the earth


Frank said...

Suzanne said

if Obama rolls up a large share
of delegates through the primaries
then I expect switches among 'em

Yep, that's how the superdelegates work.

But it does show her strength among the establishment.

That could change, but the Party holds a lot of cards and the Clintons have a significant grip on the Party.

And don't forget the Unions. Look to see who Culinary Workers Local 226, the Union that represents the Nevada Casino Workers wind up supporting. That will give you an indication of who the Party is supporting in Nevada, the next big test for the Democrats.

Just sayin'

Frank said...

Re: Culinary Workers Local 226

They just announced that they are supporting Obama

Anonymous said...

Re: Culinary Workers Local 226

They just announced that they are supporting Obama

like I said . . .


Anonymous said...

quick and dirty
which candidate
is most like you


Frank said...


quick and dirty
which candidate
is most like you

Definitely Fred Thompson

Anonymous said...

I wonder what roll the pollsters played in N.H. The media kept playing up Obama's supposed big lead and the closeness of the republican race. This may have caused independents who would have supported Obama to vote for McCain in the republican primary instead.

Daniel Keys Moran said...


Interesting point about how the superdelegates show the Democratic contempt for democracy. There are 792 of those guys -- and you only need 2025 delegates to be nominated, so that superdelegates can actually compose a ridiculous 39% of the necessary delegates to nominate a Democratic candidate.

Admirably, Republicans don't have superdelegates. They have something called unpledged delegates -- 570 of them. These are guys who can vote for whoever they want to -- unlike superdelegates, who can vote for whoever they want to. Or something like that.

But at least there are fewer Republican unpledged delegates, so that's something. Of course there are also fewer delegates actually needed to get the Republican nomination -- 1,191. So ... divide 570 by 1,191 ... 47% of the delegates necessary to win the Republican nomination are guys who can vote however they want. Vs. 39% for Dems.

Something to brag about, I guess.

"The way it works on the Republican side is that a certain number of delegates go proportionally to the candidates based on the results. The winner of the raw vote will earn all the unpledged delegates from that state."

This is sort of kind of true. In some states....

123 of the Republican unpledged delegates are automatically handed to Republican National Committee members, and not by state. The remainder, though allocated diferently by state, are party insiders who can vote any way they please. (Very differently by state -- California has only 3 unpledged delegates, handed out to the RNC. But eight states send only unpledged delegates.) And unpledged means just that, unpledged. Some of them (again depending on state) are supposed to vote for a given candidate -- but are not required to. And the RNC unpledged delegates don't even have "supposed to" to deal with.

Frank said...

Dan Moran

But look at this again:

The Democrat Super Delegates are already picking their candidates. The Republicans have to wait for them to be allocated as I've pointed out.

Now it is true that the Republican unpledged delegates can vote for whomever they want, but that typically happens when the candidate who won their state drops out of the race.

On the Democrat side, the Super delegates can change their support whenever.

The potential exists for a candidate to come to the Democratic convention with 1230 delegates and win the nomination.

And that's just a fact.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

Shrug. Facts are stubborn things, to quote somebody or other ... well, technically, I'm quoting the guy who lost in 1976 because unpledged delegates from the state of Mississippi voted for Gerald Ford. Had Mississippi bothered to hold a primary in 76, Reagan would have won easily. Instead unpledged delegates went for Ford.

Nothing similar has happened in a Democratic primary since then, either, despite their obvious contempt for democracy ...

Tyhitia Green said...

I found myself in a bit of a quandary when presented with both candidates. Being a woman of color made it difficult. I listened to the issues and their responses to said issues and I am still determining who would be the better cadidate in my opinion.

Steven Barnes said...

Watching them fight it out gives me a chance to watch them under pressure. I lean toward Obama, but enjoy watching the others engage as well.

Steven Barnes said...

Demon Hunter--

While voting for a woman or black because they are female or black alone is probably not a great idea, voting for a candidate because you feel they have more sensitivity to an issue, or more familiarity with a problem, is perfectly valid in my mind. I believe in enlightened, long-term self-interest. I want what's good for me, but I also want my neighbors to feel honored and enfranchised. Make a choice while trying to grasp that there are other intelligent, honorable choices. I LOVE being a part of this process, but have to take some of it with a grain of salt...