In related news, apparently the flinty-eyed independents of New Hampshire aren’t quite as flinty-eyed as they’d like you to believe. After a solid year of town halls, coffee klatsches, and early morning doorbell ringing — because, you know, New Hampshirites take their electoral responsibilities so much more seriously than the rest of us — all it took was a few thousand Iowans to flip them from one side to the other in less than 24 hours. Feh.
Well, yes … and no. As a long-time resident of Massachusetts, I’m always happy to join in on bashing the moochers and free-loaders of Cow Hampshire, who ought to get honest and change the state’s motto to “Live Free At Someone Else’s Expense.” And of course the notion that Iowa and New Hampshire are virtuous because they are mostly rural and Northern European is pretty damned offensive.
But … is it so unreasonable for a voter to have changed his or her mind after Iowa? The critique of Obama is that he doesn’t know how to get things done, and that he makes promises based on hope that he can’t deliver. He’s been claiming that he can get Republicans in Washington to work with him to pass progressive legislation, which seems pretty implausible given the last fifteen years. It’s hard to figure out whether he can pull it off without actually electing him.
On the other hand, he’s been pushing some equally silly-sounding ideas: that he can attract hordes of independent and Republican voters, that he can mobilize young voters, that he could win Iowa against the Clinton machine and Edwards’s union backing.
And guess what? Those silly-sounding ideas turned out to be correct, in the one trial so far. Why shouldn’t a dispassionate observer weigh that fact pretty heavily in judging whether Obama’s “theory of change” ought to be believed?
On top of that was The Speech. Why should we expect New Hampshire voters to be any more flinty-eyed than, let’s say, Ezra Klein? Moreover, in politics words are weapons, and it’s not unreasonable to want to nominate a well-armed candidate.
Footnote Ezra is taking some ribbing for his enthusiastic words, but that just reflects the basic Kool Kidz rule of never appearing to be impressed by anything. I, for one, don’t count being moved by oratory as a sign of mental deficiency. It’s not the tone-deafness of people like Mickey Kaus that’s so infuriating; it’s the pride they take in their tone-deafness.