When my 15 year old daughter said Barack Obama’s Iowa victory speech sounded like Martin Luther King Jr., it’s safe to say he played the MLK card in an obvious way. She never saw the Reverend except for what she reads in history books and sound bytes of the “I have a dream” speech. She’s not a political junkie like her dad. So I’m safe in assuming that I wasn’t just hearing echoes in my mind’s eye.
Was he reading of a teleprompter? Sure. Did a hired speechwriter compose it? Of course. Did it sell, was it memorable, delivered impeccably, did it create a seminal moment in American politics? You bet. For the first time in our history an African-American outright won a presidential nomination contest. We should all be proud that we’ve finally arrived at a time and place where this is possible, especially in a state that is 92% white.
The man is an orator without peer. He pulled off that cadence reserved for the pulpit better than anyone I’ve seen. Not even the Reverends Jessie Jackson or Al Sharpton could have pulled it off better, and certainly lack the subtle nuances a Chicago accent has in smoothing out the southern origins of the style. Say what you want, but I for one am more than comfortable to watch BHO strap on MLK’s shoes; but he’s walking down his own path.
Obama beat Hillary by 9 points. Even with grumbles of backroom deals with Richardson’s people, that’s huge. Edwards doubled his 2004 numbers just to keep the same percentage and keep pace with the massive influx of new voters Obama attracted.
The Iowa caucus is frickin’ weird anyway, and it’s unreasonable that so few people can influence so much. This version was flukier than most, earlier than ever, colder than shit, and hyped to the max. The actual difference in delegates who go to Denver as a result of this caucus leaves Hillary with one less and Obama with one more than Edwards, that’s all it really means.
But what it REALLY means is Obama takes a much needed bump in the polls going into New Hampshire, and can count on even more ungodly sums of cash pouring in from contributors.
What it REALLY means is that Hillary goes into the next contest perceived as a loser, with a demoralized entourage furiously spinning the collapse of her inevitability as something they never took for granted.
What it REALLY means is that all of us long time Edwards supporters who thought we owned Iowa just six months ago have to regroup and hang on, recognize that we were always up against incredible odds, hope our hero pulls a rabbit out of his hat, stays in play, and keeps moving the goal posts to the left. Getting outspent 6 to 1 killed off all the other contenders, so there’s still some gold left in the message.
It truly is a three-way race now, and Richardson’s only role is spoiler and probably drops out by South Carolina. I’m looking forward to the debate I’ve been wanting since summer, between just the three top contenders where Edwards can truly stand out as the professional arguer he really is and Hillary’s machine and Obama’s oratory skills won’t upstage the man with all the plans.
9 points. Damn.
Good luck John. You’ve got your work cut out for you.
But what the Iowa caucus goers have shown us is that if you’re willing to have a little backbone, to have the courage to speak for the middle class, to speak for those who have no voice, and if you’re willing to stand up to corporate greed, then that message and the American people are unstoppable, no matter how much money is spent to prevent that message from getting out. — John Edwards.