The Political "Brief"
Fred Thompson exits, per script
So the crystal ball was a little cloudy.
I was honestly convinced that, with no major announcement Sunday, Thomspon would tough out Florida and Super Tuesday, despite a lack of funds, just to get some more delegates away from Huckabee and for his friend McCain. The prevailing wisdom there being that McCain couldn't get these votes by himself, as they would normally go to a "conservative" candidate, like Thompson or Huckabee; better Fred than Mike.
The Republican field has been officially winnowed by two since Saturday, Duncan Hunter and Fred Thompson. This leaves us with still a four-way race for first: McCain, Giuliani, Romney and Huckabee. Ron Paul soldiers on and continues to get a wider audience for his views so long as he makes it into the debates. View him as the Dennis Kucinich of the Republicans, in it long after hope has faded (with no upstart victory so far, it ain't gonna happen, Tex), but remaining to spread his message and decrease the overall votes and delegates the leads can get. He is denying any one of them a clean victory, because he'll always be there, that little imp at their elbows.
Last night the Democrats - Clinton, Obama and Edwards; no Kucinich - debate in Myrtle Beach, and let me tell you it was a really corker. Find some video of the Obama/Clinton exchanges to see the heat that needs to start entering all political discourse. Whether its passion for the job/ideals or simple rage at being challenged, the two threw down without bothering to include lost puppy John Edwards.
One interesting bit of trivia that came out of it all: during his time in the Illinois legislature, Barack Obama voted "present" around a hundred times, instead of yes or no. Now, Hillary and Edwards did bend this out of proportion; while there, he cast around 4,000 other votes. The question that arises - and his reaction - is what did he vote "present" on? Voting "present" in IL means essentially "no," without having to take a position that puts you in a vulnerable spot later on (politically) and allowing you to register dissatisfaction with the legality or structure of a proposal. There were times when Obama, a law professor, was the sole "present" voter, or one of a small group. Really, it's a non-issue on the whole. If people want to attack Obama's voting record or legislation, they'll go after the concrete positions instead of the frustrating neutrality of just being in a room.