That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.
After their unlikely, and even historic victories in Iowa, Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee arrived in New Hampshire early this morning, with media entourages in tow. “Alright everybody. It is good to see you,” Obama told reporters on a charter flight. “We had a good night. My throat is hoarse, but my spirits are good.” Then he begged for sleep.
At a later event, he said, “This feels good. It’s just like I imagined it when I was talking to my Kindergarten teacher.”
Huckabee arrived to a throng of reporters to watch him eat breakfast, which he quipped was the most “exciting” of his life. Here’s his caucus night victory speech — with Chuck Norris close at hand.
Even more participated in the Democratic caucus than reported before — about 239,000, double the Republican turnout and almost double the number than showed up in 2004.
The Coverage: Coverage of the evening on the major broadcast and cable networks was just as you would expect — full of punditry and analysis, perhaps once again led by Tim Russert. Keith Olbermann was on fire in the rhetorical flourish, and stumped more than a few people with his references to the presidency of James K. Polk (when talking about Des Moines’ Polk County Convention Center) and in his comparison of the Iowa Republican caucus to that party’s national convention in 1912.
James Poniewozik of Time watched the C-SPAN feed of individual caucuses — and appreciated their quaintness — but found them quite a juxtoposition to the network coverage.
He writes, “The highly produced cable-news coverage of the caucuses, on the other hand, was as slick and soundbitten as the actual caucus was homely and deliberate. But in a way it was a similar social phenomenon: groups of political junkies getting together, engaged in discussion, but in this case the aim was to goad one another into ever more grand statements and flights of rhetorical fancy. It was a little like one of those rap slams from the movie 8 Mile, except for dorks.”
Jon Friedman of MarketWatch sees the coverage as following the same old standybys of quarterbacking.
“Once again, TV has taken the easy way out by focusing on the candidates’ personalities instead of hammering on the issues. The pundits keep telling us that this is the most interesting, wide-open and important election of modern times, yet we keep getting the same old insufficient coverage.”
Howard Kurtz looks at the failure of the punditry, for ignoring Mike Huckabee for much of the year and urging Barack Obama to more fiercely attack Hillary Clinton. Or for linking the Huckabee press conference on Monday to the “Dean scream” — a possible meltdown?
“We in the news business made the same mistake we’ve made so many times before, overvaluing money and organization. Phil Gramm was going to be huge in 1996 because of his war chest. Howard Dean was virtually guaranteed to win because he had raised the then-unimaginable sum of $40 million. But in the end, message and personality can trump fat checkbooks and precinct workers.
“We cling to those benchmarks because they feel real. We overvalue early polls, which can change in a heartbeat, as Huckabee just demonstrated.”