Last Tuesday night's results from Florida in both the Democratic and Republican Party presidential primaries were what I expected, and then some.
Since well back into 2007, this column has been predicting that Florida would decide both the Democratic and GOP nominations. I believe it did, and in the process has blown apart the political world we have known for decades.
First, John McCain. He's the ultimate "outsider" within his own Republican Party. Neo-cons, establishment GOP bluebloods and just about every too-cool-for-school Republican faction have long held him in contempt. Now he's probably on his way to being the Republican Party nominee for president.
He has wrought pure bedlam inside the Washington Beltway. From talk-show hosts to longtime K Street lobbyists, the jig is up. They must now either embrace McCain and his moderate (or liberal) instincts or shut down for business.
There are two absolute truths here. First, for every Republican who has felt left out of an exclusive rich man's GOP country club, McCain's calm but resounding independence is a moment that declares the end of the GOP establishment as we have known it.
Here's the other truth: John McCain can, on some issues, be just about as far off from the traditional GOP scorecard as one can get. From the Bush tax cuts to tort reform, McCain has blazed a trail of working with the Democrats on often seemingly GOP issues. That's the part about McCain that gives conservatives heartburn.
But there's heartburn and then there's nausea. In the world of politics, the name Hillary Clinton sends the very same ilk I described above into fits of rage. Well, guess what? Get ready to have plenty of fits, guys and gals, because Hillary and Bill have once again outsmarted the dim-witted Howard Dean, the leader of the Democratic National Committee.
Dean didn't think that Florida would matter. He refused to allow candidates to campaign in the state. It was his penalty for the state's GOP-dominated legislature having moved the primary date up, to follow so soon after his beloved Iowa and New Hampshire.
Well, Mr. Dean, Florida matters. With a massive turnout in a state that has a single county that's more populated than the whole state of Iowa, Florida Democrats spoke so loudly that not only could they be heard all the way to California, but by the stubbornly devoted populist candidate John Edwards as well. He beat even Republican Rudy Giuliani to the punch in exiting the race before next week's "Super Tuesday" vote.
Hey, Howard: You and the DNC made idiots of yourselves. And now you have to pray the state forgives you in November for dissing its Democrats in January.
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