Primaries are decision time


It seems as if this presidential race has been going on for years.

The Democrats have had their collective eye on the big chair since George Bush was reelected in 2004; John Edwards threw his hat in the ring back in December 2006; Hillary declared her candidacy last January; Obama jumped on board a month later.

And of course there has been Kucinich, Dodd, Biden, Richardson and Gravel, but the big three have been Clinton, Obama and Edwards – in that order – for so long that the race’s conclusion seemed foregone.

To be honest, we’ve kind of tuned it all out since the YouTube debate.

But it’s time to cast our keen, analytical gaze once again on the race for president – there’s just a few more months until we see a Democratic nominee and there’s some action there for the first time in a while. Last week Barack Obama pulled ahead of the frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, by four points in that all-important state of Iowa, capitalizing on a shift in voters’ desires from “strength and experience” to “new direction and new ideas.”

Obama’s all kinds of new – he’s the first African American to have a serious shot at the nomination; he speaks relatively frankly about the things he deems important, a rarity in this hostile political climate; and he’s young, which brings along with it the implication of a clean slate.

Not that Obama’s our guy – we’re holding off on our endorsement until November. But he’s definitely catching our eye as someone who can go toe-to-toe with a political juggernaut.

Which brings us to Hillary Clinton.

Some of us around here are fans of the former first lady and current New York senator, but there are those among us who feel that she is being forced down our throats as the only candidate who has a prayer, if you’ll pardon the expression, of defeating the Republicans. And what’s odd about that is that it seems as if most of this emphasis is coming from the right.

Fox News keeps tabs on Hillary like she’s a blonde teenager gone missing in the Bahamas. Conservative columnist Robert Novak has been eating lunch on his Clinton campaign columns for more than a year, averaging about one a week since she declared her intention to run. And Matt Drudge slaps her photo atop the Drudge Report, sometimes accompanied by exclamation-point-laden hyperlinks, often enough that her name gets almost twice as many hits, 1,149, on a search of the site as a search for “Obama” (630). Edwards rates a mere 357 on the Drudge-search meter.

We’ve got to ask ourselves why. Why is Hillary getting all this coverage from the right? It’s certainly not because they like her. And they don’t particularly seem to fear her as a candidate – Republican National Committee spokesman Brian Walton said in October, “There is a reason [Bill] Clinton didn’t win South Carolina when he ran for president, and it’s the same reason Hillary and the other Democrat candidates won’t win it in 2008.”

We have our suspicions.

Meanwhile, it’s anybody’s game over on the left. Remember who the Democratic frontrunner was this time in 2003? It was Howard Dean, pre-scream.

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