Di seguito articolo che solo per il titolo… nel Pantheon di Abeona!
Especially if you happen to be a Republican
The Economist Print Edition, January 31, 2008
THE first act of the extended drama that is this year’s American election ended this week in Florida, with the last of the early primaries that have taken the presidential hopefuls from the plains of Iowa to the mountains of New Hampshire and from the Nevada desert to South Carolina’s coast. These early states have served their purpose well, narrowing a field of almost 20 down to four serious contenders (two Democrats and two Republicans) and proving much about the character, intellect and staying power of the principal players.
Act II starts and finishes almost immediately. On February 5th more than 20 states will vote, and by the end of that day half the delegates to the late-summer conventions, where the nominees will be anointed, will have been chosen. Whether there is a third act—a long tense hunt for delegates from the remaining states, which could take months longer—will depend on how finely balanced a result “Super Tuesday” delivers. It is even possible that one or other nomination will be decided only at the conventions: a nail-biting Act IV. And only then, of course, will the actual election to replace George Bush in the White House begin.
The process of choosing the next leader of the world’s most powerful country, in other words, is still at an early stage. But it has already delivered big surprises. The biggest has come on the Republican side. A few months ago the party looked set to tear itself apart, with no fewer than five front-runners, each representing a different strand of conservatism, vying for supremacy. But a brutal triage has taken place. Fred Thompson was speedily eliminated for being only a poor man’s Ronald Reagan; Mike Huckabee stunned in Iowa, but has proved unable to spread his appeal beyond evangelical Christians and looks doomed too. And on January 29th Rudy Giuliani, an early favourite, was forced from the stage in Florida. He had staked everything on a big win in the Sunshine State, leaving the other early primaries to his rivals. In the end, he came a dismal third and quit the race a day later.
The Republican race thus boils down to a straight fight between a competent chameleon and a cantankerous crusader (see article). Mitt Romney is a smooth businessman-cum-politician. Unlike everybody else still in the race, he has actually run a lot of things—a state, a huge business and an Olympic games—and done it pretty well. If only he believed in something, he would be a powerful force; sadly, his political colours appear to change depending on his audience. By contrast, Senator John McCain lacks Mr Romney’s managerial vim (and his youth); but he has never been afraid to speak his mind, bravely defying his party’s line on immigration, torture, global warming and campaign finance—and he has considerable support among independent voters. This newspaper backed Mr McCain in the 2000 primaries; the case for him being the Republican candidate this time seems even stronger.
Nasty, brutish and long
The Democrats have been just as surprising. A race that once looked like a walkover for Hillary Clinton has proved to be anything but. Barack Obama has emerged as a charismatic political presence, running a tightly organised, exciting campaign. Mrs Clinton has fought an oddly poor one, hindered in unexpected measure by her husband. Far from adding star power, Bill Clinton has proved a source of rancour and controversy. His ranting attacks on Mr Obama, and his clumsy attempts to pigeonhole his wife’s rival as a black candidate with limited appeal to whites, triggered this week’s endorsement of Mr Obama by Senator Edward Kennedy and by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of JFK, who says that Mr Obama reminds her of her father. Independent voters may now flinch about the nastiness of a Clinton White House.
It is still probably—just—Mrs Clinton’s race to lose. She managed to “win” a non-competitive race in Florida this week; and some of the doubts her attack dogs have raised about Mr Obama’s lack of experience and the young senator’s preference for vague uplift over crisp detail are certainly to the point. John Edwards’s withdrawal from the race on January 30th will probably benefit her too. But Mrs Clinton goes into Super Tuesday having so far failed to convince plenty of broadly sympathetic people, including this newspaper, that she should be the automatic Democratic choice.
And her struggle is indeed likely to continue. Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats award their primary delegates on a proportional basis. So it is likely that for Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton at least, there will be an Act III, and possibly more, after Super Tuesday. The play is far from over. But the Republicans should be surprisingly content with the show so far.