Paul Greenberg

One oh-so-deep analysis of Tuesday's results held that Hillary Clinton's tearing up at one point (and who wouldn't cry at what's happened to American politics?) changed the tide in her favor by "humanizing her image." Oh, Lord. What is this - a presidential election or daytime television? And is there a difference any more?

Oh, the injustice of it: Ed Muskie cries in New Hampshire years back and is marked a loser; Hillary Clinton blinks a bit and she's a winner. Talk about sexism, the double standard, and the plain unfairness of it all to the unfair sex. . . . Where's the Equal Rights Amendment when you need it?

This much is clear and satisfying after the vote in New Hampshire if nothing else is: Good ol', fusty ol', tough ol', unsinkable ol' John McCain, pulling an electoral surge of his own, won. The pollsters, at least those who foresaw Barack Obama's fictive landslide, lost. Big.

Mike Huckabee, world champion at the game of Arkansas Bluff, was proclaiming victory with about 11 percent of the vote as he prepared to hold the biggest, bestest tent revival of all time in sweet South Carolina, the next stop on his Bible bus.

Then there's Mitt Romney, who's still got the biggest checkbook but keeps showing up a few votes short. He looks every inch the president, the way Warren G. Harding did, but maybe that's the problem. People have learned to beware the smooth. Can that be what in the end will do Barack Obama in? And is Chris Dodd still in the race? I forget.

Another question: How could the polls have called Iowa so precisely only a week before but got the results in New Hampshire, at least in the Democratic column, so wrong? Are open, friendly Midwesterners easier to read than dour New Englanders? Are Republicans more predictable than Democrats? Do Democrats lie to pollsters more readily (a temptation one can understand) or do pollsters just find them harder to read? Or are the voters in New Hampshire just more independent and Independent? Questions abound; answers, or at least sound ones, are rare. They may even be non-existent.

I give up. If this doesn't teach me to stop speculating about the presidential election until all the results are in, the chads counted, the victory speeches given by all the losers (oh, what I wouldn't give for an honest, old-fashioned, self-respecting concession speech!), and the winner safely inaugurated next January, then nothing will keep me from speculating about the result of the next primary.

Alas, nothing will. It's a terrible addiction, following political contests, even worse than keeping up with football and sitcoms. The other morning I caught myself listening-actually listening - to David Gergen say nothing or other. This is the pitiable condition I've been reduced to. Who next, David Broder?

I'm already figuring the odds in the next primary. And the next. But I have this haunting feeling that the real news, and real life, is happening elsewhere.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.