The front page of the Guardian this morning—“Clinton moves to plan B, strategists may be sacked”—makes a good case for 24-hour news desks. So too does the title of Mark Steel’s comment in the Independent : “A few tears won’t make Hillary more electable.”
Even commentators like Daniel Finkelstein who argued that she “isn’t dead yet” were certain that Obama “is going to win New Hampshire, probably with a landslide.”
But Finkelstein et al worded their predictions more carefully than some—like former John Kerry strategist Bob Shrum, who wrote in the New York Daily News: “The Clinton industry, encrusted with the beneficiaries and acolytes of the first and probably only Clinton presidency, has turned Hillary into a product whose sell-by date has passed.”
This was echoed by Peter Wehner in even more apocalytic terms: The “Obama wave”, he blogged, is about to “submerge, sink and drown the Clinton campaign, and with it, the Clinton era will come, finally, to a close.”
Even those who were less keen to dance over the ashes of Clinton Inc were asking how it had all gone so wrong. Many in Hillary’s own camp (including her husband) had all but conceded defeat in New Hampshire, and James Rubin, a long-standing friend of the Clintons’, assumed that the state was lost even as he was defending her over-all electability on Newsnight.
While The New York Times was careful not to call the race, it was still busy speculating yesterday on who in her campaign team would get the axe. Would it be Mark Penn, chief strategist, Patti Solis Doyle, campaign manager, Mandy Grunwald, advertising advisor, or Howard Wolfson, communications director? Twenty-four hours later, of course, the newspaper was hailing the same campaign as brilliantly “retooled.”
Likewise, just two days after Guardian America editor Michael Tomasky testified first-hand to “Obamamania”—“a campaign that is on fire”, he was describing the turnaround one of the most “stunning results” he’d ever seen. “You mean the most stunning since a few days back in Iowa, surely?” quipped the first comment on his blog.
To be fair to Tomasky, he, Martin Kettle and many others have noted that the result paints everyone in the media in a rather unflattering light. Wrapping a story up before it is finished is an arrogant and dangerous strategy.
With that in mind, we at Prospect would like to (arrogantly ) point out that we—via our soothsaying Granite Stater—offered a far more prescient insight than any of the other aforementioned “experts.” And will, of course, continue to do so, unerringly.