Category: Campaign 2008.3
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Is this a race to be the Adlai Stevenson of 2008?

I have said often that there are no precedents or models for the 2008 primary races; they are completely unlike anything that has ever come before.

On the other hand, the general election seems to be pretty standard fare. It occurs to me that we have plenty of historical resources upon which to draw. The two most compelling parallels are 1952 and 1968. Both modern contests transpired in the wake of extended, frustratingly expensive and unsuccessful wars of choice. Both elections featured surrogates for severely distressed sitting presidents. And both canvasses netted an out-party victory.

Contrary to the popular misapprehension, history never repeats itself. Sometimes, however, general patterns of human behavior, which can be deduced from a careful study of the past, exert great influence on current events, especially when present exigencies resemble past situations.

Here is the present political landscape. The United States is engaged in a military action, which a vast majority of Americans either believe was a mistake from the outset or egregiously mishandled at some point. These dissatisfied American political consumers are mad, dispirited, and they blame the President. Americans want a pound of flesh. How to exact revenge on a lame-duck President? Public opinion ratings. Vitriolic calumny as a new pastime. Derision. The mid-term election of 2006. The Election of 2008?

Unlike George Bush, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson, the sitting presidents in 1952 and 1968, did not face constitutional barriers to reelection. That is, under the law, they were more than welcome to seek a second elected term. However, as commanders-in-chief of failing wars, Korea and Vietnam respectively, Truman and Johnson found that vehement public disapproval blocked their path to another four years at the helm of the United States government. For all practical purposes, we are in a similar situation this cycle.

The Democrats, the party of Harry Truman, desperate for a David-like champion to face the American hero, Dwight Eisenhower, selected Adlai Stevenson in 1952. Stevenson was an erudite candidate who thrilled loyal Democrats with his urbanity. Nevertheless, he lacked broad appeal, and he went down to ignominious defeat.

In 1968, the Democrats, once again in dire straits, chose President Johnson's VP, Hubert Humphrey, to carry the standard against a resurrected Richard Nixon. That election, despite the myriad disadvantages associated with the Johnson administration, proved extremely close--but, nevertheless, once again a loss for the candidate saddled with the war and the accompanying aura of incompetence and impotence.

Is the GOP primary the race to be the contemporary Adlai Stevenson? Actually, I expect this election to more closely resemble the 1968 model. I expect the challenger (no matter who she is) to emerge from the Democratic convention with a thirty-point lead. The Republican nominee will get some of that back at his own convention--and then struggle mightily to close the gap by the first Tuesday in November 2008, which he will do, either squeaking by with a razor-thin victory--or falling a few million votes short.

Does it matter who is running? A little. But not too much. Although there are undoubtedly some Americans out there who are up for grabs and can be swayed by personality, performance, and/or momentum (although probably not by ideas at this point).

Now a few random thoughts in re the Republican Canvass:

» Read More

Category: Campaign 2008.3
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
My Mantra?

Nobody Knows Anything.

What does that mean?

This is a campaign like no other. Already, we have had more debates than I can count; the candidates have raised hundreds of millions of dollars, political fortunes have risen and fallen and risen again, and we are still fifteen months out from the election. We have never seen a canvass such as this; therefore, no one can predict what will happen between now and November 2008.

Having said that, here are a few more half-baked thoughts concerning where we are right now.

Clinton clearly on top; Obama still a threat

I don't say I coined "Clinton-44," but I started referring to Hillary in that fashion well over a year ago. For a long time, I have seen Mrs. Clinton as the odds-on-favorite to be the forty-fourth president of the United States. This week as the conventional wisdom seemed to gel around that idea, however, I began to get a case of cold feet on that prediction. I am the ultimate contrarian. And, sure enough, Barack Obama seems to suddenly "connect" in the You-Tube debate.

While the insiders scored one for Hillary and her mature foreign policy statement, the focus groups went wild over Obama's sincerity, authenticity, and "freshness." Go figure.

Some perspective: as sure as I am that Hillary has a nearly insurmountable organizational advantage at this juncture, I must admit that at the same point four years ago I was equally positive that Howard Dean had the Democratic nomination in the bag. Of course, I was in good company, as Karl Rove reportedly thought the same thing. But so much can go wrong.

To repeat, for a number of reasons, I see this as a Democratic year. Almost any Democratic candidate can and should win in November. That doesn't mean that a Democratic win is a sure thing. Villanova beat Georgetown in 1985. Baylor beat USC in the Coliseum later the same year. Hickory beat South Bend Central in Hossiers. Jets and Colts, Super Bowl III. We'll play the game. But we'll go into the contest as big underdogs.

For years now, Mrs. Clinton has been laying the foundation for a run for president as a moderate. But life is funny, and so much can go wrong. For Mrs. Clinton Iraq went wrong. With the possible exception of President Bush, no one was more surprised that there were no weapons of mass destruction. With the possible exception of President Bush, no one should be more frustrated with the unforeseen protracted and bloody campaign to pacify Iraq. These developments have proven extremely inconvenient for Mrs. Clinton.

Because things are so dreadful in Iraq, and the American people are so frustrated, angry, and sour, political rookie Obama emerged as a surprisingly viable alternative. Having said all that, none of this is unrelentingly terrible news from Mrs. Clinton's point of view. Someone had to emerge. The political laws of the universe dictate that a candidate on the way to the nomination must face some resistance.

A Likely Scenario

Right now Mrs. Clinton holds a comfortable lead. Most likely, Obama will continue to rise in the polls until he is even with Clinton, possibly even surpass Clinton, and then peak. These will be tense moments. Both camps will develop a deep dislike for the other. Then Mrs. Clinton's experience and superior organization will take over, the adults in the Democratic Party will exert their influence, Clinton will pull back ahead of Obama, and then pull away from him down the stretch. Then Mrs. Clinton will extend a gracious hand of friendship to Obama and offer him the VP. Obama will seize the opportunity to further his political education and prepare for his ultimate elevation to the Chief Executive. And they both shall live happily ever after.

On the other hand, so much can go wrong. If Obama catches fire, and wins the nomination (still an entirely plausible potential outcome), all bets are off. Obama is the one viable candidate of inexperience. As we saw the other night, inexperience means promises to meet with Castro and crazy Middle Eastern dictators. More importantly, an inexperienced candidate of the people means a firm commitment to rapid withdrawal from Iraq and the Middle East.

An Important but often Overlooked Point

Faced with the actual prospect of "retreat and defeat" and "cut and run" (and I use those terms because they will be plentiful in the fall of 2008, if Obama is running for president), I am convinced that the American people will hesitate. It is one thing to tell a pollster you are dissatisfied with the war. It is another thing entirely to actually have the responsibility of determining the future of American foreign relations in a national election.

Such a momentous decision will be hard fought and closely contested. If Obama is the Democratic nominee, he will be locked into a position extremely difficult to defend in a logical way. In such a situation any Republican candidate has a decent chance at knocking off the inexperienced Obama.

11/07: Why Hillary?

Yesterday, I wrote once again that Hillary Clinton is the most likely person to become the 44th President of the United States.

As a counter-weight, I will also repeat, once again, my mantra for Campaign 2008: Nobody Knows Anything. Almost anything can happen between now and November.

Having said that, why does every day seem to bring Mrs. Clinton one step closer to the Democratic nomination?

The three-way race is turning into a two-way race. Although always a long-shot in my book, many learned observers saw John Edwards as a real threat to win the nomination. But the former senator from North Carolina and 2004 Democratic nominee for Vice President seems to be falling farther and farther off the pace. Last week Barack Obama and Mrs. Clinton posted record campaign fundraising revenues. Edwards did not. Running a campaign designed to appeal to the "disinherited of this land," a poll today showed him garnering only 10 percent of American voters who live in households with a combined income of $20,000 or less. Who is the candidate of the poor? Mrs. Clinton overwhelmingly. Obama is a distant but respectable second. Edwards is betting it all on Iowa--but Clinton has the money and organization to wage a national campaign during a primary season in which more than thirty states will pick delegates over a fortnight.

What about Obama? As noted above, the first-term senator turned in unprecedented financial numbers last week. He continues to draw large crowds and avoid lethal gaffes. But the buzz seems to be abating.

Democratic primaries (all primaries) are about picking a winner in November. Could Obama win the general? I think he could. Absolutely. But Democratic voters may be getting a case of the cold feet. What do we know about Obama? How will he do in a debate against Fred Thompson on national TV? What does he really have to offer in the way of ideas and experience? Of course, these are not insurmountable problems. As I say, Obama can win this nomination--if he gets the right breaks.

But Democrats are beginning to think that it would be easier (safer) to hand the ball to Hillary Clinton. We know her, they say; sure, a lot of people don't like her, but we know who they are. We also know that Hillary is not going to lose anybody that she has not lost already. No one in America is going to wake up after Labor Day and realize that Hillary was the not the knight in shining armor that they once thought.

Hillary is not going to crater under the pressure. She is probably not going to rise above herself to meet this new challenge either--but that is okay. Hillary is going to give us the same measured performance she has delivered for the last twenty years. Combine that with perhaps the best political organization ever crafted together, and she is probably more than good enough to win. In this case, the devil they know may be superior to a promising wild card.

One other thing going against Obama: Race. I am not convinced that race would hurt Obama in the general election. In fact, I think race for Obama is, at worst, a wash. My hunch is that race would actually play to his advantage. Undoubtedly, there are still some Americans who would not vote for him because he is an African American. But most of those folks live in states that are not likely to go Democrat anyway. Maybe he will lose Alabama by a few more votes than a white Democratic candidate would have, but nothing from nothing leaves nothing. No net loss. On the other hand, I think there will be some voters of all races who will vote for Obama because he is black, and my hunch is that many of those voters may be in swing states where every converted vote counts.

So, why does race play to Obama's disadvantage? Democrats do not buy the scenario I just laid out. In their heart of hearts, according to their world view, fly-over America is racist and will not vote for a black candidate. I hear Democrats (especially African American Democrats) say this all the time. So, in calculating a candidate who can beat the Republicans in 2008, Obama and race nag at their optimism. He becomes an increasingly risky choice for more and more Democratic primary voters.

Add in Bill, organization and battle-tested hired guns, and Hill looks more like a winner every day.

UPDATE: Yesterday "Barry-Bonds Head" asserted that Hillary needed a transcendent, human, funny, ice-breaking, "Bill on Arsenio playing the saxophone" moment. Is this it? Although it is by surrogate--this little video is pretty cute (and sexy). You may view here via YouTube.

Previous Campaign 2008 posts from the Bosque Boys:

"Another Bad Hair Day for John Edwards: is the jig up?" here.

"Is Obama Losing his luster?" here.

Even more here (click and scroll down).
Quick Thought on Campaign 2008:

Why I continue to predict "Clinton-44" with confidence:

Conventional wisdom and tradition seems to indicate that the "candidate of change" has the advantage in presidential elections.

For the most part, this is true during times of upheaval, real discontent and/or uncertainty:

Abraham Lincoln in 1860
FDR in 1932
Nixon in 1968
Ronald Reagan in 1980

It is also true that an adept challenger exaggerates a sense of crisis and manufactures a certain amount of discontent to win elections:

JFK in 1960
Bill Clinton in 1992

And it is also true that sometimes we the people grow restless with a pretty good thing, which is also a part of the explanation for 1992.

Do we really want change in 2008?

There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton will advertise herself as the "agent of change" in the upcoming contest--but, realistically, that assertion is a hard sell. No one in this race (Republican or Democrat) seems more battle-hardened and grizzled than the Senator from New York.

The real question for Hillary is this: do Americans want real change or do we want to return to the status quo antebellum? I think the answer may surprise most of us.

If you visit the Clinton Library in Little Rock, you may purchase "I Miss Bill" bumper stickers. I am told they are top sellers.

If Hillary gets by Barack Obama in the primary, and I think she will, Mrs. Clinton represents a very appealing notion of nostalgia for our recent past--and even our present sans Iraq.

Forget about the facts for a moment. Perception is more important than the truth when it comes to politics and history. Most Americans are very angry and frustrated with George Bush at present. Mrs. Clinton will have the luxury of lambasting the sitting President, which should prove quite popular, but she will also offer an implicit promise of returning to the good old days of peace and prosperity and Clinton management.

Do we really want change? Americans are furious about Iraq and slightly discontented with some other things (it is the human condition to be less than satisfied), but most of us, if we took a moment to look hard and deep at our lives, are surprisingly content with our world as it is.

Yes, Mrs. Clinton will give lip service to global warming, universal healthcare and a fairer and more compassionate society--but, in essence, she will be selling more of the same with less incompetence.

My hunch is that it will be a winning pitch.

Previous Bosque Boys posts on Hillary-44:

From last September, "Clinton-44: Part I: If elected president of the United States in 2008, Hillary Clinton will make the least attractive and least affable chief executive of the modern media age. From the piercing laugh (oftentimes when nothing is funny) to the menacing scowl when the TV cameras catch her in unguarded moments, Mrs. Clinton tends to come across unnervingly manufactured, even soulless at times."

Nevertheless, "Why she's probably going to win..." (full post here).

UPDATE: Regular reader and commenter, Lily, directs us to this provocative piece on selecting a president: "Elect Mr. Right, not Mr. Right Now" here. Thank you.
Category: Campaign 2008.3
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.
~~attributed to Abraham Lincoln

A lot of the people seem to be catching on.

Today the Washington Post ran another Edwards "hair" story--but this time the cumulative damage strikes me as edging toward lethal.

Following up on the original $400 haircut, Post staff writer John Solomon reports:

"Beverly Hills hairstylist, [Joseph Torrenueva] a Democrat...has cut Edwards's hair at least 16 times."

Evidently, the stylist met the candidate at a fashion summit back in 2003, which brought "several fashion experts together to advise the candidate on his appearance." According to the story, Edwards and Torrenueva "hit it off" and began a mutually satisfying business relationship.

Over the course of the next four years, the stylist made arrangements to meet the candidate in various locales all over the country, charging as much as $1250 for his services (full story here).

Why is this a big deal?

Initially, back in May when the $400-haircut story broke, the Edwards camp tried to laugh it off as an oddity. Edwards had stumbled in for a haircut somewhere; he didn't know the price; someone on his staff paid. Embarrassing but harmless. A country boy in the big city taken for a ride by some fella in Beverly Hills. It was almost endearing.

But, evidently, that was not the case. Sixteen haircuts. Warm relationship. The celebrated four-hundred-dollar bill was on the cheap side.

This story digs at the festering concern that something about Edwards is not quite right. There is the vanity issue. Rush famously labeled him the "Breck girl" years ago, which the ubiquitous YouTube classic (here) so humorously reinforces. There is the the question of hypocrisy: he poses as a populist everyman but acts like a high-rolling dandy. And, perhaps even more damning, this revelation also speaks to the issue of basic integrity. Either he tells the truth--or he doesn't. In other words, if he lies about his hairdresser, can we trust him to tell us the truth on matters of state.

Even worse news for Edwards:

The other revealing part of this story is the lack of cover accorded Edwards from the mainstream media, historically friendly to Democratic politicians.

As Robert Novak wrote a month ago:

"Edwards now is massively unpopular among party regulars, who neither like nor trust him." According to Novak, the "Democratic establishment" is convinced that an Edwards nomination would mean a "catastrophe" in the general election (full Novak column here).

Perhaps that explains the "unfriendly" press coverage from unlikely places such as the Washington Post and ABC News (George Stephanopoulos made note of the flap this morning on GMA). This is not exactly the George Allen treatment, but when the Washington Post starts sending real reporters to investigate your hairdresser, you are in for a long and bumpy ride.

This race is taking shape, and Edwards certainly looks like the odd man out.

Other Bosque Boys thoughts on Campaign 2008 here.

Don't forget to bookmark Bosque Boys.
Category: Campaign 2008.3
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
From the Washington Post:

"Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign today announced widespread cutbacks and said it was considering whether to accept public campaign funds after another disappointing fundraising effort that has left the Arizona Republican with only $2 million in the bank" (full Post story here).

So long, John.

Prior to the immigration barrage, insiders refused to count out McCain. The oddsmakers focused on his loyal and talented campaign staff, which was exceedingly confident, competent and convinced. Everyone knew the scrappy McCain was fearless and could take a punch--and, with an exceptional team of true believers in his corner, many wondered if he just might not have a shot in the later rounds of the nomination battle.

But that is not to be. The already beleaguered McCain sustained a ferocious flurry of heavy blows on immigration; a mean right hook stopped him cold. Cutting staff at this point deprives him of his one remaining potent weapon and renders him defenseless. It is over for McCain, "throwing in the towel" officially cannot be too far off.

Too bad. A break here and there and a few different decisions, and he could have been a contender.
Category: Campaign 2008.3
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
As many of you know, I have a semi-regular gig on our local CBS affiliate offering political analysis. In the wake of the Bloomberg announcement yesterday, KWTX-Channel 10 [Waco, Texas] called me in to discuss Campaign 2008. Our conversations are usually fairly general, but, just in case anyone is interested, here is a synopsis of the exchange (and a few additional facts and some further analysis):

1. An unprecedented National Primary. Texas (along with Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio and Vermont) will hold its primary on 4 March 2008. Front loading? Think again. Thirty-eight states will have already held primaries by that date.

FYI: A 2008 Countdown:


14 Iowa Caucus
19 Nevada
22 New Hampshire
29 South Carolina & Florida

The Mother of all Super Tuesdays is 5 February, in which 23 states, including California, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee, will conduct primary elections.

Although it is possible that the nomination will still be in doubt after 5 February, it is unlikely, if recent history is any indication.

More importantly, and this part is relatively new, what we have, in fact, is a national primary on 5 February. What does that mean? The candidate with the best organization, enough money to mount a campaign in 23 different venues and an appealing message that transcends a few specific locales will secure the party standard.

In other words, gone are the days of concentrating on a specific state (e.g., Iowa, NH or SC) and making a big splash and gaining momentum from an unlikely victory. That is, Jimmy Carter-style insurgencies are now impossible.

The candidate with the best national organization? Democrats: Advantage Mrs. Clinton. Republicans: we'll see.

2. The role of Texas in the general election? If Texas is in play for the Democratic candidate in October and November, it means a national landslide. Over the last few state election cycles, no Democrat has been elected to statewide office. There is no redder state in the Union that the Lone Star State. Having said that, nobody knows anything. Looking down the road, I would not bet the house on any outcome this time around.

3. Pandering to the base. For most of American political history, it has been necessary for candidates to craft positions that attract true-believers who make up the base of their parties early on, and then tack to the middle for wider appeal in November. Campaign 2008 is no exception. Candidates who skip the first step do so at their own peril.

Mrs. Clinton spent an entire senate term positioning herself as a moderate (even as a hawk on defense and terrorism) so that she might win the hearts and minds of movable security moms. Now she is paying the price and trying to appear just enough of a lunatic to propitiate the left wing of the Democratic mainstream. She will not make it with the "nutroots"--but, thus far, she seems to be striking an acceptable balance among her party stalwarts, who, for a number of reasons, want to vote for her in spite of her uncomfortable Iraq history.

John McCain, perhaps a viable general election candidate, never found a way to overcome the suspicions (even hatred) emanating from the conservative base of the Republican Party. Immigration was the final nail in his coffin.

What of Rudy? Thus far, Rudy has defied the conventional wisdom that a pro-abortion, soft on gun control, double-divorcee cannot appeal to the Republican base. The base is not attracted to his liberalism--but they are considering forgiving his apostasy because they admire his bravura in the aftermath of 9-11 and his sincerity. Rudy is a straight-talking, hardliner and pragmatist. It is an attractive combination, and he continues to lead the national polls among Republican primary voters.

Of course, the advent of Fred Thompson changes everything. All bets are off until we see if Fred is the "Mr. Right" the GOP is searching for.

4. How big is immigration? The grassroots rebellion over immigration is huge. It is more than powerful enough to preclude any reform legislation in the near term. However, immigration has not played a large role in recent elections. No Democrat lost a job in the last midterm election over a stance on immigration. But some hardliner Republican challengers failed to gain traction concentrating on the issue, at least one hardliner incumbent, J.D. Hayworth, lost his seat in Arizona, and the jury is certainly still out as to how this volatile issue will play in a national election.

I don't expect immigration to be the issue that saves Republicans in 2008.

5. The defining issues of 2008? All roads seem to lead back to Iraq. Currently, our frustration in Iraq has cast a pall over the American people. Huge numbers of Americans voice disapproval with the President. The ongoing lack of success in Iraq permeates all other programs, initiatives and governance with an air of incompetence and impending doom. No matter how encouraging some of the traditional economic indicators appear, voters continue to complain that we are on the wrong track in overwhelming numbers.

All roads lead back to Iraq, which is why 2008 could be a disastrous year for Republicans. Although recent polls indicate that Americans are also frustrated with Congress, we generally hate Congress but love our Congressman. Don't look for those numbers of general disapproval to presage a massive turnover on Capitol Hill.

On the other hand, voters quite often punish a President and his party for poor decisions and leadership. Get ready to get punished.
Category: Campaign 2008.3
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Will Michael Bloomberg run for president in 2008?

My answer, like my answer to whether Chuck Hagel will run for president (the question of the day a few months ago) is...

Who Cares?

Bloomberg was a Democrat, then a Republican and now an Independent.

Who Cares?

Bloomberg is a media mogul and current mayor of New York.

Who Cares?

Mark Halperin, chief political correspondent for Time Magazine, and a smart fellow, seems to agree that this is a media-driven story. But Halperin at least entertains the possibility of a run.

An aside: these days you need a big ego and a lot of money to run for president. In that sense, Bloomberg is a viable candidate.

Halperin asks: Would Bloomberg Have a Chance?

Full story here.

Short answer: None whatsoever.

Can he have an impact?

Perhaps. Halperin believes he is more likely to help Republicans, if he wages a serious campaign. I agree.

However, I am hyper skeptical that he will actually mount a campaign. We'll see. At some point, this race is going to take shape, and all these novelty acts are going to recede from the discussion.

Six years ago I would have been hard-pressed to identify Michael Bloomberg. Six years from now, I suspect, it will take a furrowed brow and a pensive moment to remember exactly who he was.
Category: Campaign 2008.3
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Yesterday, based on a conversation with some local Democrats, the Okie Gardener reported from Iowa:

"They had the following thoughts: (1) Anyone the Democrats nominate in 08 can beat the Republican candidate, except Hillary. So, Hillary must not be nominated. (2) When the dust clears Edwards will be the strongest candidate for the Democrats to put forward."

My Reaction:

First: My Mantra: Nobody knows anything.

Having said that, I think Hillary can win it all. She can be beaten if we get the right candidate, we play it smart, we get a couple of big breaks, and the stars align.

I think the local consensus that the Gardener encountered provides more insight into what is happening on the ground in Iowa--than a truly national judgment.

Edwards is working very hard in Iowa. His ambition to be president hangs on his success in the Hawkeye State. He cannot afford to lose there. He cannot afford to be out-campaigned there.

If Iowa Democrats were not leaning toward Edwards at this point, frankly, there would be no reason for Edwards to be away from his home and family.

In re Edwards: I have been reluctant to acknowledge his viability. To my mind, he lacks the seriousness to be President of the United States.

An aside: I felt the same way about Bill Clinton. I liked him (he fascinated me), but I considered him the kind of person one dated but didn't marry. Infatuation over true love. A host of Democrats famously saw George W. Bush as lacking "gravitas."

Of course, the obvious moral of those two stories: anything can happen. Nobody knows anything.

The Gardener reminds us:

"In politics perception helps to build reality. Nobody knows anything, but what people think they know matters. Hillary is in trouble in Iowa, not that it matters as much as it did with the current primary schedule. From my conversation, it would seem that she is in trouble with Iowegeans because they fear she is not electable."

The Gardener articulates a key point, and I agree completely. Objectively, it is easy to envision a scenario in which Edwards emerges.

As I have said, Edwards is banking on Iowa as a momentum-building, watershed moment in the race.

It is not a stupid strategy. Stranger things have happened.

As for Hillary in trouble, all of this is day to day. Nobody knows anything. But I'll pose this question, if you were running for president, who would you rather be than Hillary right now?

In terms of the importance of Iowa, I refer back to the Gardener's "perception and reality" formula. Iowa is only important as long as Iowa can convince the country and the candidates that Iowa is important.

I am not unsure how meaningful Iowa will be this time around. But as I have said before, I would darn-sure rather win the Iowa caucus or straw poll than lose it.

For more thoughts on Campaign 2008, click here and scroll down.
Yesterday on the Sean Hannity radio show, Frank Luntz (celebrity Republican-leaning pollster) pronounced John Edwards the winner of the latest Democratic debate (BTW: he calls last night's GOP bout for Romney, more on that story here on RCP).

Luntz's analyses are based on focus groups working dials to register their approval for the candidates and what they are saying in real time.

My point: Luntz called Barack Obama the surprise loser in the Democratic debate. Although this goes against the conventional wisdom, fund-raising contest results and the latest national polling, I AGREE with him.

Obama seems to be stiffer and less-practiced than he was when he entered the race five months ago. As someone who was intrigued by Obama, I am increasingly uninterested in and unimpressed with him.

Obama is sharp, charismatic, handsome and black--but that alone is not enough to lift him past Hillary Clinton. The Obama-juggernaut was always a long shot that needed flawless political acumen and stimulating oratory.

I am not seeing that. A few months ago, I could not take my eyes off him. These days I am mostly bored by him.

More Bosque Boys thoughts on Campaign 2008 here (click and scroll down).