All Hail Partisanship

"The punditocracy has been humbled once again. (But it won't work--you won't see much humility from them, now or ever!)" -- Bob Kaiser, ...
by | January 9, 2008
 

Partisanship "The punditocracy has been humbled once again. (But it won't work--you won't see much humility from them, now or ever!)" -- Bob Kaiser, last night, washingtonpost.com

I've had so much fun drawing large conclusions from minimal voting that I see no reason to stop now, even if the Obama bandwagon looks like it's at least temporarily jumped the tracks. For today, I stick by my prediction of continuing uncertainty on the Republican side, but for Democrats one moral from New Hampshire is that the party wants not just "hope" but a good partisan fight.

I'm not a reader of DailyKos, the most famous left-wing blog, but I had picked up some rumblings that posters there were unhappy with Obama's supposed post-partisan, can't-we-all-get-along message. They believe it's the Democrats' year to win, and they don't want to waste victory dispensing goodwill toward the GOP. "Red will still hate Blue and [Blue] will still hate Red," is how one poster put it. "'Uniting' people at the expense of the left is no solution to anything," another wrote.

Gosh, that didn't seem in keeping with the spirit of the Obama moment. And the Clinton campaign's complaint about how they let non-Democrats participate in the Iowa caucuses sure sounded like sour grapes.

But maybe these partisan and netroots Democrats had a point. Party voters are supposed to pick their party's nominee -- and will. Obama carried independents in New Hampshire -- and got more of them to vote for him than McCain -- but Clinton's victory was built on registered Democrats (and women).

Obama's message of inclusion is inherently a general election message. True, his debate comment that Clinton is "likable enough" wasn't gracious, but it was a personal attack, not a partisan one.

Many loyal Democrats are going to want to hear a strongly Big-D Democratic message in this primary season, which Clinton certainly will give them. (Note that McCain's margin of victory yesterday over Romney shrinks to one percentage point among registered Republicans in exit polling.)

I still think that South Carolina, with its heavily African-American electorate, will go for Obama. (No "Bradley effect" there.) But there are a lot of closed primaries after that. Will Democrats in the coming states go for the "false hopes" of a post-partisan tomorrow talked up by Obama, or will they want more of the us-vs.-them partisan tribalism that a Clinton nomination (and possible presidency) guarantees?

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