All politics is local, said the late House Speaker "Tip" O'Neill.
Tip was wrong. All politics is tribal -- as we just rediscovered in the New Hampshire primary.
With Obama surging and Hillary reeling after a third-place finish in Iowa, it seemed all the dreams of a Clinton restoration would come crashing down on the eighth of January.
All the pollsters predicted it. All the pundits agreed. And all the anti-Clintonites, sensing this was the kill, came streaming out of their closets to mock Hillary and hail Barack, as they once hailed Bill.
"The Hun is always at your feet or at your throat," said Winston Churchill.
Anticipating a blowout, the chattering class found confirmation Monday morning in an emotional moment when Hillary choked up and began to tear up. All day, all night, all the next day, they rebroadcast the breaking of Hillary. The gloating and glee were pandemic.
Others, however, saw it, too. Undecided Democratic voters and independents, especially women, saw the bullies taunting the girl in the schoolyard, pulling her pigtails, making her cry. The maternal instinct kicked in, hard. Women poured out to pick Hillary up, dust her off, and put her back on her feet, back into the race and back into the lead.
Hillary's victory became a stunning upset because no one had predicted it and no one had expected it after Iowa and all those polls showing Obama pulling away.
What happened in New Hampshire was a backlash against press, pollsters, pundits and piling on. When Bill Clinton suggested the press was in the tank for Barack, he understated his case. In the first days after Iowa, you would have thought Obama had been born in Bethlehem.
He is the greatest orator since Dr. King, we were told. He has the passion of Bobby Kennedy and the cerebral cool of JFK. He will lead us out of the desert of division into the sunny uplands of racial harmony. The caucuses of Iowa were the Lexington and Concord of a new American Revolution. Providence has sent us this great gift.
Then New Hampshire rejected him. Worse, New Hampshire left the pollsters and pundits with egg all over their faces. Instantly, there arose the need to explain why everyone had been wrong. And instantly came the answer: It was racism.
"The Bradley Effect" defeated Barack, the pundits suggested.
The Bradley Effect is named for Tom Bradley, the popular black Los Angeles mayor who was running well ahead of his GOP opponent for governor in the polls, only to see his lead vanish on Election Day. The Bradley Effect -- voters lying to pollsters about how they intend to vote for a black candidate, then going into the booth to pull the lever for the white opponent -- this closet racism defeated Obama.
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