Barack Obama won handsomely in the Iowa Democratic Primary, beating John Edwards into second place and trouncing Hillary Clinton. Leaving Edwards aside, he has lurched sharply to the left in an effort to court Democrat activists and would find it hard to move back to the centre where elections are actually decided, it is already obvious that the Democratic candidate will be Obama or Clinton. Their sharp divide is less in policy terms, though Obama wants universal health care and Clinton is steering well clear of her great failure, and is more in terms of their political style. Barack Obama is an optimist, a one-nation politician, who wants to lead his whole country, not just the faction that voted for him. Clinton is a percentage politician, triangulating interest groups on an influence grid and running systematic attacks on her opponents. So, her people have been caught trying to push the notion that Obama was a drug dealer or is secretly a radical Muslim, never mind very public and personal attacks on his perceived lack of experience. This is the Alastair Campbell School of politics, and it leaves a bad taste even when it is effective. The good news here is that it doesn’t seem to be. Rumour-mongering hasn’t worked, in fact it has backfired with Clinton forced to personally apologise to Obama about some of the activities of her staff. The inexperience thing hasn’t resonated either, reminding people more of Hillary’s past ups and downs more than damaging her opponent. So, a positive, inclusive politician is leading over a divisive, negative one. That works for me.
As a Conservative, I map more to the Republicans than the Democrats and of their candidates I have time for Giuliani and McCain and no-one else. In particular people who overstate their religion in an effort to boost their appeal worry me greatly, which covers several of the Republican front-runners. The Huckabees and Romney’s of this world would be crushed by either Clinton or Obama in a general election. Put them up against someone like Giuliani and that would make for a contest.