Thursday, December 27, 2007

biden talks up an iowa upset

DES MOINES, Iowa [from]— Joe Biden is talking. “Barack does a room, Hillary does a room, I do the same room and I win,” he says. “I have absolute confidence in that. The question is: Do I get in enough rooms?” Biden is sitting at a table in a Starbucks, a cup of coffee rapidly growing cold in front of him. We talk for 30 minutes, and in that time I manage to fit in exactly two questions. I am not complaining. Biden is charged up and telling me that if he could trade places with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or John Edwards in Iowa right now, he would not do it. Would not! “I am not being a wiseass,” he tells me, nudging my arm for emphasis. “I am not joking. The guy with the most money and the woman with the biggest buzz, beaten by the man with the right message! Who people think is honest!” Though beating them, in Biden’s view, does not mean actually coming in ahead of them in the tally for delegates on Jan 3, the night of the Iowa caucus. He means he will beat them when it comes to expectations. He poses a possible outcome for caucus night. He says he is just making the numbers up, but it seems clear he has thought about them. “Let’s say I end up with 15 percent, Barack is at 20 percent, Edwards is at 22 percent, and Hillary is at 26 percent,” Biden says. “That would be a big victory for me.” He savors that for a moment. “Barack spends as much as Hillary and has all that organization and all that hype! And he gets beaten by Hillary by six points!” Biden says as if his fictional numbers were not fictional. “Some say John [Edwards] is done,” Biden says matter-of-factly and then spins a new scenario. “A third-place finish for him would be pretty dismal. After campaigning four years here. That would be a big loss.”
Biden says two big supporters of Edwards in 2004 called Biden not long ago to say they were switching to him. “Whoa! Where did that come from?” Biden says. “Two weeks out and they are jumping in for me? Where the hell did that come from?” I ask Biden if a candidate with a message and a personality, but not a big organization, can actually win Iowa.
“You need enough of an organization, though a couple of candidates hope just a message is enough,” Biden says. “You don’t have to have megabucks, but you have to have a savvy organization. I don’t think you can do like Bill [Richardson] is apparently doing and hoping people just go in and vote for you.” Biden has a network of endorsements from state, county and local officials, and while these endorsements can sometimes appear small-time — Biden had just been endorsed by the mayor of Keokuk — these are often the kind of politicians who have real political organizations. Along with those organizations, Biden is also depending on his ability to connect with people. Obama and Clinton "don’t really get to talking to people,” Biden says. “They may get 500 people in a room where I get 250, but the people who come out for me stay two hours, and I shake hands with them all. Hillary is on TV a lot, but with me you come out and I meet your two sons and your daughter and I show some enthusiasm.” “You can feel it,” he goes on. “My crowds are three times as large as ordinary.” (And, in fact, at his next event, which is at the Italian-American Cultural Center of Iowa on Des Moines’ south side, the parking lot is full, people are hunting for spots on side streets, the room is packed and they are putting out more folding chairs wherever they can find a space. It is the proverbial cold winter night, but people continue to trickle in even as Biden is speaking. One woman, pushing a walker, comes in just as he is finishing, which might make it the first time in history Joe Biden has not gone on long enough.) At Starbucks, Biden says: “I tell my contributors — the few we have — and I tell my staff, ‘I cannot show you anything until Jan. 3.’ Then you guys (i.e. the media) will cover me and I will finally get to the front page of The New York Times, as reluctant as they are to do that.” To Biden, it is just a matter of getting in front of enough people. “I am confident in my message and I am confident in breaking through, and the only thing I am not confident about is have I been to enough places?” he asks with a shake of his head and then immediately brightens. “But I promise you, I am totally, completely at peace with the way I have done it.”
and about the assassination of benazir bhutto, this:
“This is a terrible day. My heart goes out to Benazir Bhutto’s family, friends and followers. Like her father before her, Benazir Bhutto worked her whole life — and gave her life — to help Pakistan become a democratic, secular and modern Muslim country. She was a woman of extraordinary courage who returned to Pakistan in the face of death threats and even after an assassination attempt the day of her return, she did not flinch. It was a privilege to know her these many years and to call her a friend. "I am convinced Ms. Bhutto would have won free and fair elections next week. The fact that she was by far Pakistan’s most popular leader underscores the fact that there is a vast, moderate majority in Pakistan that must have a clear voice in the system. Her assassination makes it all the more urgent that Pakistan return to a democratic path. "This fall, I twice urged President Musharraf to provide better security for Ms. Bhutto and other political leaders — I wrote him before her return and after the first assassination attempt in October. The failure to protect Ms. Bhutto raises a lot of hard questions for the government and security services that must be answered. "I know that Benazir’s followers will be tempted to lash out in anger and violence. I urge them to remain calm — and not play into the hands of the forces of destruction. I urge Pakistan’s leaders to open a fully accountable and transparent investigation. We must find out who was behind this and bring those responsible to justice. And the United States should offer any assistance necessary, including investigative teams, to get to the bottom of this horror. "The way to honor Benazir Bhutto is to uphold the values for which she gave her life: democracy, moderation and social justice. I join with the Pakistani people in mourning the loss of a dear friend.”


microdot said...

mr reverend, I read your comment on riding bikes for over 50 years and so have I. I am riding in France now, where I have lived for the last 10 years.
I ran into you profile over at Steve's bobble headed Jesus blog.

I saw you had a link for Zappadan and I am one of the Zappadan Elves, well more of Garden Dwarf actually! It was a wild celebration this year!

I posted a lot of Zappa stuff and found some pretty strange stuff on YouTube....

the mostly reverend said...

i have encountered your tracks in various places. thanks for visiting AND for posting.
and thanks for all the good you do, you little dwarf, you!
this WAS a good zapadan. i really enjoyed the videos, and it was great to be really re-immersed in frankness again.
we'll see you again soon.
again, thanks!

the mostly reverend said...

ah, yes, the brain police.
yes, indeed: very good. VERY good.

Anonymous said...

Assasination isn't a "good thing" by any means. But I think we(the U.S.) need to stay away and let them(Pakistani's) figure things out for themselves. We would be best served by witholding money from them and focus on our problems.

Lastly Ms. Bhutto was an innocent victim as some seems to claim. She and her husband seems to have some problems with corruption that to this day isn't resolved.

Anonymous said...

meant to say "wasn't" an innocent victim...

the mostly reverend said...

oh, nonny, were you talkin' to ME?
you MUST have been talkin' to me, because i don't see anyone else here you could have been talking to...

but i was just saying that "the brain police" is a good thing.
i CERTAINLY wasn't saying assassination was a good thing.
are you crazy? i was around during the 60s when they were killing all the good leaders.
NOT a good thing.