That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

With Iowa Democrats looking to caucus on Jan. 3, suddenly the protracted presidential race doesn’t look so short anymore. But the move probably limits California’s influence on the nomination process. With the state heavy in absentee voters, residents would have been casting ballots in early January, and before Iowans voted.

When California moved its primary up to Feb. 5, many expected the state to become a campaign battleground. That hasn’t happened yet — and many doubt that it ever will. Many other states moved their primaries to the same date, and the net result seems to have been to make Iowa and New Hampshire more important than they once were — just as some commentators predicted. With the Barack Obama and John Edwards camps banking on showings in Iowa, a Hillary Clinton rout in that state could make this a very short race. California, once again, would be delivering a coronation vote.

Birthday Bash:
Hillary Clinton raised $1.5 million at a birthday gala Thursday night in New York, where Elvis Costello sang “Happy Birthday, Mrs. President,” and Billy Crystal and the Wallflowers also provided entertainment. Clinton turns 60 today. She didn’t mention that fact when she spoke and, according to ABC News, Costello said, “I always thought it was impolite to mention a lady’s age.”

Out There: Professor Dumbledore enters Bill O’Reilly’s zone. He was a bit irked when J.K. Rowling announced that the Harry Potter character was gay.

Here’s the Media Matters for America transcript of “The O’Reilly Factor” — with guest Dennis Miller. 

O’REILLY: Here’s — you can talk about this on your radio show tomorrow. There are millions of Americans who feel that the media and the educational system is trying to indoctrinate their children to a certain way of life, and that includes parity for homosexuals with heterosexuals.

And that’s what this Rowling thing is all about, because she sells so many books. So many kids read it, that she comes out and says, “Oh, Dumbledore is gay, and that’s great.” And this — it’s another in the indoctrination thing. That’s what the belief system is among some Americans.

MILLER: I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think you can indoctrinate a kid into being gay. You might indoctrinate him into trying it once and him going, “I guess I’m not gay.”


O’REILLY: No, but tolerance. It’s — you know, he’s not going to be gay, but it’s tolerance of it.