So today, we’ve been waiting. Primary day is actually the worst day of coverage in the whole course of the contest, partly because the candidates take it easy – so if it all goes horribly wrong there isn’t terrible footage of them pleading with tired cranky people to get to the polls – but also because there are so many rules about embargoes on exit polls that no-one has much to go on until it’s practically all over.
But as it’s the only game in town on that day, no-one can talk about much else, so there’s these hours of on-screen waiting, like the awkward start to a bad party was televised nationally.
So it’s been more food porn – Hillary scarfing down whatever they throw at her – “half a still living Doberman? Where’s the sauce?” — while others compete to see the least offensive thing Obama will baulk at. To see this man approach a waffle is to see elitism in action, he’s a sad loss to forensic medicine. With butterknife daintily between fingers, he makes a light incision at the point where the gridded top of the waffle meets the body.
Flipping a third of the topshell off, he exposes the fluffy core below, and applies maple syrup like Monet touching up a water-lily. All the while he’s yakkin’ away in that deeply unconvincing manner (as Stephen Colbert remarks “no one appears to be more comfortable than Hillary Clinton, at appearing to be comfortable”), fooling no-one. Everyone’s eyes are on where Obama’s head is at – minimising the amount of sugary, processed crap he’s going to actually put in his mouth.
These waffles are as much a test as the host is for a rockchopper. Coming free with your standard breakfast, if they were any airier, they’d float off the plate. They come in a cardboard sleeve you need to watch cos if you start eating it, flavour might be ingested. They’re pure syrup platforms, gantries for goo.
But they’re simply American breakfast and you gotta eat them. Breakfast, of all the meals, is the most patriotic. Breakfast is a pure expression of cultural values? Why? Because no matter how adventurous we are, even if we’d cheerfully crunch down on a sheep’s eyeball, breakfast is the time when we find out who we are. The plain truth is that everyone finds everyone else’s breakfast disgusting, just wrong – the French can’t take the grease inhalation of an English breakfast, their damp croissant looks wimpy, and everyone west of Prague finds herring salad and cheese slices disgusting.
To not like your national breakfast is a form of self-imposed internal exile. Because what counts and doesn’t count as breakfast is completely arbitrary (the Koreans like soup and kimchi), your unfeigned appetite for it is a true measure of how deep-seated your cultural belonging is. The fact Obama probably has a kiwifruit and a spring water may well be what ushers in the McCain era.
Interestingly, the last pollie to have the breakfast problem was Nixon. He campaigned on what we would now think of as the Atkins diet – big steak in the morning, no bread, no lunch, fish or chicken in the evening. He reckoned the regime gave him energy to campaign about 20 hours a day, and stay clear-headed – but he had to avoid what they called in that distant era “starches”, in other words take the hot dog not the bun.
At 10pm on the east coast and with 66% of votes counted, Hills is leading 54.8% to Obama’s 45.2, a nine per cent lead. It had opened on about 13% and came into about 7 on the vagaries of reporting. It may go out again, but is more likely to come into about 8% (as I predicted on Monday). Though Pennsylvania is a very split state in the election proper, primary wise it’s pretty even, Obama winning in only Dauphin and York counties in the South-east of the state.
An 8 or 9% win for Hillary is perfectly inconclusive. She gets above the magic 5% death razor, but is held below the psychological victory of double figues. Everything we know about her says she will almost certainly go on, with the only caveat being that her money problems may be worse than reported. She had already spotted her own campaign a cool $5 million, so one can assume that reports saying that camp Clinton is “almost broke” means that she’s well into the red. As noted yesterday, that would mean dipping into the Clinton personal war chest, and keeping up a respectable result in the next ten primaries would need at least $20 million – which might mean as much as $10 million of their own money.
Question then becomes, would Bill be willing to stump up for it? That’s when you really know if someone is there for you even when all about have deserted you, when an act of selfless faith is required so given it’s Bill we’re talking about the answer is no. Let’s face it they’re well off, but $110 million in our new global Rome, is hardly rich.
Can’t see her quitting on the basis of a 9% win, but I can’t see the cash spigot re-opening either. If she does decide to quit it won’t be tonight. She can afford to lose North Carolina, though not by much, and she will, so Indiana becomes the next test. Rustbelt Hillary-territory with a whole new range of horrible pickle-based foods.
But Obama will be able to comprehensively outspend her there, really saturate it. And remember none of this is about delegate counts per se now. It’s all about symbolic victories and losses, and the hope that it turns out Obama is a gay North Korean satanist, with video, or shot, or something that makes her the choice of the conference.
Yes, another ten weeks hedged on whether they’ll skip the hot dog, and go for the buns. Breakfast of champions.