Drunkblogging South Carolina

It’s too soon to tell, but I do know that after three hours of drinking and writing about the whole winning-by-losing thing, it’s finally starting to make some sense. Of course, at this point on a Saturday night ten years ago, hitting on the married cocktail waitress seemed like a pretty good idea, too.


Then there’s this:

Roughly 6 in 10 South Carolina Democratic primary voters said Bill Clinton’s campaigning was important in how they ultimately decided to vote, and of those voters, 48 percent went for Barack Obama while only 37 percent went for Hillary Clinton.

If those numbers are right, then Bill’s endless finger-wagging was a net loss for Hillary. In which case the question becomes, “Can she rein him in?”

I think we all know the answer to that question, and it rhymes with “Blewinsky.”

4:34 pm PST:

Another weekend poll asked South Carolina voters, “who is more annoying, Fox’s Shep Smith or CNN’s Anderson Cooper?” The most popular answer given was some hooting and hollering and something about a “cage match.”

“Among white Democrats… Obama got only 22%,” says Juan Williams, adding, “And that’s not very good.” Well, considering that Clinton siphoned off a full quarter or more of the electorate just on white female voters – and then there’s that third candidate, John Edwards, inexplicitly still in the race. And Edwards is presumably polling reasonably well among white voters in what is, after all nearly his home state.

“Home state” in Edwards’ case is almost literally true, given that his home is the size of Rhode Island.

Down in Florida, John McCain just won the endorsement of governor Charlie Crist – and Crist is one popular governor. That’s one more nail in Rudy Giuliani’s campaign.


Back with more numbers from South Carolina in just a few minutes.

4:08 pm PST:

MSNBC reports that Bill Clinton is going around telling people that Obama is black. I’m pretty sure that, no matter what happens at the polls, Clinton is the big loser. But maybe that plays into Hillary’s newest new strategy, of winning-by-losing-her-husband-to-packs-of-angry-voters.

It just might work. Especially on pay-per-view.

CNN’s exit polls show Edwards winning the white vote with 39%, Clinton getting a little less, and Obama got a quarter. But is 25% enough for Obama to remain the non-black black candidate, thus frustrating Hillary’s whole winning-by-losing thing? Or is Obama now the black black candidate?

Other polls show that Hillary won 42% of the white female vote, tarnishing her as the female woman candidate.

CNN has already called Obama the winner overall, or the black-black winner-winner. Although he could still prove to be the black-black loser-winner, or perhaps the duck-duck-goose winner-loser.

3:54 pm PST:

CNN’s resident Old Guy Political Veteran Prognosticator says, “The problem with polling is, people always want to give the ‘right’ answer.” CNN has never called me, that’s for sure. Next time a pollster calls you, try answering every question with, “I decline to answer on advice of my attorney, Oscar Z. Acosta.”

I find myself tuning into CNN more than Fox or MSNBC tonight. Their election night room is a little busy – it feels like a very expensive version of the set your PBS affiliate uses during fundraising drives. But that touch screen of theirs is a great way of following events, and none of the talking heads are real shouters. Well, except for Bill Bennett when he’s at the craps table.


Everybody reports huge turnout for black voters, which I suppose plays into the winning-by-losing strategy – if you buy into that ugly thing. The real breakdown will come later tonight. Meantime, we’re only minutes away from the first results.

3:31 pm PST:

Even Frank Rich is getting into the Hillary loses-by-winning-by-losing act. The Drudge Report (“now with a bigger grain of salt!”), teases Rich’s Sunday New York Times column with, “the Billary road to Republican victory.” So what Clinton needs is a winning-by-losing-by-winning-by-losing stratagem. Which, if I’ve done my math right, would involve her dropping out of the race while setting fire to an American flag and hitting a hippy with a brick.

It might just work.

CNN has a fun flat touch screen to play with. It’s got a big map of South Carolina. It zooms in and out, changes colors, and tallies the votes. It’s a bit like John Madden’s chalk board, only for political junkies — and with an interface Apple’s Steve Jobs would appreciate. We here at the prestigious VodkaPundit News Service have a table in the basement covered with old AAA maps, and a handful of chewed crayons. There’s a reason we’re not on television.

The polls close in just 30 minutes, so I’m going to fortify myself with an icy martini and get ready to cover the exit polls and early returns.

3:10 pm PST:

CNN has a show called, I kid you not, Ballot Bowl 08. I know that dead spot between the end of the playoffs and the kickoff of the Super Bowl kind of sucks, but who do they think they’re fooling? Right now, Ballot Bowl 08 (not to be confused with the totally lame 07 bowl show) is running a Mike Huckabee speech almost in its entirety. Huckabee is down in Florida on his “Gas Money, Please?” tour, in a last-ditch effort to save his foundering campaign. Give it up for Huck, who doesn’t look or sound broke. I’m afraid he’s going to become a real force at the convention this summer – and maybe on the bottom of the Republican ticket next fall.


I almost feel sorry for Tim Russert. MSNBC has him reduced to talking to tieless guys with facial hair on a Saturday afternoon. That’s a far cry from being the most fearsome interviewer of the Sunday morning talk show set. I think he needs to talk to his agent.

Or perhaps I’m being unfair. The show, called Tim Russert, is nothing more than some guys sitting around in a featureless room, talking politics. No flash, no glitz – it takes me back to being a kid and watching David Brinkley. And given that most shows are all shouting and flashing graphics, Tim Russert is a welcome relief. Sadly, it’s no wonder that MSNBC runs the show while virtually no one is watching.

Mort Kondracke reports that Bill Clinton claims he can “win South Carolina for Hillary.” And, that Obama’s lead there is shrinking. But if a loss is a win, does that mean Bill is really trying to sabotage Hill’s SC campaign? Well, I suppose that depends on how you view Bill Clinton.

The other talk is that no matter how badly the Clintons play the race card against Obama, Hillary can still depend on the black vote in November. Perhaps – but with how much enthusiasm?

Reader A. N. Pierson asks, “Please publish your martini recipe for those of us who may have forgotten or not seen and would like to ‘sing’ along.” Very well.

Fill a martini glass with ice, and rub the rim, lightly, with a wedge or slice of lemon. Fill your cocktail shaker with ice, and pour three or so ounces of Grey Goose Citroen vodka over it. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds. I’ve trained myself to do so at a rate where 50 shakes takes exactly 15 seconds, so I never have to look at a clock. Dump the ice out of your glass, then strain the vodka into it. Drink quickly enough that it never gets warm, but not so quickly that you can’t blog. Repeat until Chris Matthews begins to make sense.


Another reader tells me I’m uninteresting. They should consider reading me less or drinking more. The way I’m going, it won’t be too long before I find “Moussa” to be a fascinating commenter. But I’m courteous like that.

2:10 pm PST:

I have such a crush on Fox’s new-to-me afternoon newsbabe. No idea what her name is. Shiny straight black hair, olive skin, yummy. So yummy, in fact, that I sat through an entire Griff Jenkins man-on-the-street piece just to catch another glimpse of her. (Giving Griff a hard time is standard practice around here – he knows I kid. So, dude, seriously, do you know her? What’s she like? Do you have a phone number? Does my wife read these dispatches? Just shoot me an email, Griff, and we’ll talk.)

Sorry. We’ll get back to the important media criticism now.

The jabber today is how Hillary Clinton is going to win the nomination by losing South Carolina. The logic goes, if she loses to Barack Obama tonight, it’s only because of the black vote. Then Obama becomes the “black candidate,” making it safe for white liberals to vote against him. Presumably, Obama’s thrashing of Clinton in lily-white Iowa didn’t mean squat.

There’s also talk that Clinton might even come in third place, behind even John Edwards. If so, I guess because of the angry-white-guys-with-great-hair vote. If coming in second place is a win for Hillary, I can only imagine how far she’ll go after getting beaten by a guy whose been written off like a debt on Enron’s books.


On MSNBC, there’s something, I’m sure, going on with Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann. But Pajamas Media doesn’t pay me enough to watch that pair, so you’re on your own. Although I did just hear that MSNBC is reporting heavy turnout in South Carolina, which might work in Clinton’s favor – as it did in New Hampshire.

But let’s be exact. I’m assuming a Hillary-wins-by-winning scenario, not a Hillary wins-by-losing scenario. If it’s the latter, and the big turnout helps Hillary, then maybe it actually hurts her by helping. A win for her today might force white liberals to vote for black Obama because he’s the not-black black candidate. Or something.

One thing that hurts for sure is: My head.


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