Tuesday, January 08, 2008

It May Not Have Been Possible

How could Hillary Clinton have avoided her game-changing loss in Iowa? Blame is not in short supply, not from a press corps that generally hated working with her campaign, nor from inside the campaign itself.

We hear it was chief strategist Mark Penn's fault. That Clinton kept changing her theme. That she shouldn't have run on inevitability, which could only lead to a crash once the bubble burst. That she should've skipped Iowa, or understood it better.

They're all valid criticisms, and maybe she could have pulled it out. It's also possible that all things being equal, Barack Obama is a better candidate.

From my perspective in Iowa, Obama ran a nearly perfect campaign. He was well-organized, worked hard and was on pitch, to be sure. He also is the right man at the right time, knowing just how to channel the massive pent-up energy and frustration of supporters into an appealing vision, and more important, concrete action.

He made almost no mistakes. His campaign was remarkably united even at its lowest points. He never wavered in his approach or convictions, but he continually fine-tuned, improved. And his convictions were nearly always vindicated.

He's amazing to watch, and it's not just charisma. Against the "perfect" candidate, at a time so suited for him, we may look back and say Clinton always had an uphill battle. We just didn't know it.

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