I'm disappointed. I was hoping things would stabilize, but it's clear the situation for the Dems is still pretty volatile.
I think the only way to account for Obama's loss of a double digit lead in the polls is a sympathy vote for Clinton. The story of the the "mean girls" on the media bus giving her the cold shoulder, Edwards' debate attack on her, the media's glee in her Iowa defeat [see update below], the endless scrutiny of her eyes welling up. I think a lot of New Hampshireites felt sorry for her and couldn't bring themselves to put the last nails in her coffin. As far as I can see it had nothing to do with anything Obama said or did.
But I think that however people reacted to Edwards' attack on her in the debate, he's right. Hillary is the Democratic establishment candidate. No matter what she says, she's the one who's most comfortable with the the way things currently work in D.C. That's what the "experience" mantra means. That's what's behind her "false hopes" dig at Obama: Shes saying, "I am a creature of the system here; you are not. I can get things done because I'm more realistic about what cannot be changed. The system may be sick, but you're delusional if you think you can change it." Maybe she's right about that, but nevertheless I want to put somebody in there who will try to redirect the energies of this system. Even if he fails, he will have slowed down the way the system is degrading our political life.
I don't think she's a bad person, and I don't think that it would be a disaster if she was elected; it would just be a missed opportunity. It would just be the continuation of the stagnant Democratic establishment same old, same old.
UPDATE: I don't think it's possible to overestimate the public's revulsion at the media's jaded perspective toward Clinton and toward the whole democratic process. I don't want Clinton to win the nomination, but how ironic if she were to win because of the public's reacting against her unfair treatment by the media. It's as if the fairminded folk in New Hampshire were remembering how disgusted they felt at the media gorging on the other Clinton during the Lewinsky affair. Greenwald summarizes this adolescent media malevolence well:
Petty personality-based gossip and speculative, worthless chatter is all they know. Drudge, after all, rules their world. He's their Walter Cronkite. And they wallow exclusively in the Matt Drudge currency, what two of their most revered members -- Mark Halperin and John Harris -- described as their fixation with the "attacked-based, personality-obsessed politics" pioneered by their Ruler. Can one find more compelling proof of all of this than their juvenile, sadistic, lynch-mob savaging of Hillary Clinton over the last several days based on the pettiest and most fact-free assaults and their long-harbored desire to see her crushed?
As is so often the case, Maureen Dowd today unintentionally provides a perfect view of the core sickness of our press corps:
When I walked into the office Monday, people were clustering around a computer to watch what they thought they would never see: Hillary Clinton with the unmistakable look of tears in her eyes.
A woman gazing at the screen was grimacing, saying it was bad. Three guys watched it over and over, drawn to the "humanized" Hillary. One reporter who covers security issues cringed. "We are at war," he said. "Is this how she'll talk to Kim Jong-il?"
Another reporter joked: "That crying really seemed genuine. I'll bet she spent hours thinking about it beforehand." He added dryly: "Crying doesn't usually work in campaigns. Only in relationships."
Bill Clinton was known for biting his lip, but here was Hillary doing the Muskie. Certainly it was impressive that she could choke up and stay on message.
Dowd is describing here the conversation that took place in her "office" -- which happens to be the newsroom of The New York Times -- between what are undoubtedly very Serious Journalists, including one who covers (said with whispered reverence) "security issues." And in this one short passage, on vivid, revolting display is every repellent attribute that defines the Standard Modern Political Journalist:
*Jaded, bitterly cynical coolness masquerading as sophistication (no emotion, no passion, is even real);
* Vapid, shallow stupidity (political matters judged exclusively by Drudge-like personality distractions);
* Mindless recitation of idiotic, Kristol-like right-wing talking points (we need manly Tough Guys, not Girly Crying, for our Wars);
* The basest and most glaringly obvious strain of sexism (no mention of the endless crying episodes from GOP Warrior-Cheerleaders);
* Their self-absorbed and almost-always-wrong belief that their own insulated biases are how the Regular Folk Think (hence, Hillary's "crying," which voters apparently either appreciated or ignored, was going to doom her candidacy, just as Huckabee's press conference would doom his in Iowa);
* Herd-like adolescent malice rituals directed towards the Hated Loser (NYT reporters grouping together to chortle and cackle oh-so-knowingly at the Wicked Witch).
Also from Rebecca Traister in today's Salon:
So no, I have not been a Hillary Clinton supporter. But the torrent of ill-disguised hatred and resentment unleashed toward a briefly weakened Clinton this week shook that breezy naiveté right out of me, and made me feel something that all the hectoring from feminist elders could not: guilt for not having stood up for Hillary. I can't believe I'm saying this, but had I been a New Hampshire voter on Tuesday, I would have pulled a lever for the former first lady with a song in my heart and a bird flipped at MSNBC's Chris Matthews, a man whose interest in bringing Clinton down hovers on the pathological, and whose drooling excitement at the prospect of her humiliation began to pulse from the television last week before most Iowa precincts had even begun to report results. . . . who knows how I'll vote; but I do know that I am happy that I'll now likely have the opportunity to cast a vote for the candidate of my choice and not of MSNBC's.
I have to say that there is a certain frisson of schadenfreude in seeing Chris Matthews, once again, be shown up as an idiot. But allowing our negative reactions to idiots in the media dictate our choices is as stupid as taking these idiots seriously.