Add another name to the list of Phoenix alums (Mark Leibovich, Dave Crowley, Seth Gitell, Dan Kennedy) writing on the 2008 presidential race. Former Boston Phoenix political reporter Al Giordano is on leave from the Narco News Bulletin
— which he founded in 2000 to report on the drug war and democracy in Central America — and covering the New Hampshire and Iowa primaries at The Field, a blog maintained by RuralVotes.org, a site dedicated to empowering rural voters around the country.
Right now, Giordano isn't ready to call Iowa for any particular Democrat, though he seems to like Barack Obama's chances best. On the GOP side, though, he's pegged Mike Huckabee as the winner-in-waiting. "He's running a smart campaign," Giordano said via e-mail. "His 'Merry Christmas' ad was savagely brilliant, as I note on The Field, where I call it the best political ad of 2007. And Huck has that Reagan-esque Teflon. His gaffes haven't hurt him; they've humanized him."
And New Hampshire? Here, Giordano is taking a pass — for now — on prognostication, though he express bafflement at Rudy Giuliani's decision to back off the state. The Democratic outcome, he predicts, will hinge on what happens in Iowa: if Obama or Clinton finish first there, he expects the same candidate to win the Granite State. That said, Giordano sees potential advantages for Obama in his support from freshman NH congressmen Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter and Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick — all of whom have campaign organizations that could help put Obama over the top.
Two more points worth making. First, Giordano's analyses have a depth and sophistication that can't fully be captured here; for an unmediated taste of his work, visit www.ruralvotes.com/thefield. Second, while Giordano is currently focused on the US presidential election, he still has some pointed thoughts about recent developments in Latin America. At the end of our exchange, for example, I asked him about Hugo Chavez, the combative Venezuelan leader who recently faced massive street protests.
"Regarding Venezuela, the US media has been droning on that Chavez is a 'dictator, undemocratic, blah blah blah,' but his gracious concession that he lost his recent referendum [proposing the abolition of term limits] makes them all look silly and shows who the real democrat is," Giordano answered. "Most countries don't have term limits. I don't agree with the one in the US — which was imposed by our own oligarchs who hated FDR so much. That's what's undemocratic: telling people we can't re-elect who we want."