From Christopher Caldwell's Financial Times column:
In any technocratically run country serious politics may simply be too boring to hold the attention of an electorate accustomed to non-stop entertainment. Electoral programmes are less exciting than allegiances. The country wants heroes and villains. It wants to laugh and cry. It wants to participate in the political life of the nation in a more emotionally intense way than it can through mere voting. While Mr Berlusconi's effect on Italian government was never as baleful as Italy's elites thought, his effect on republican virtue was dire. The habits he inculcated as a television magnate and later exploited as a politician were not those of citizens; they were the habits of subjects, who participate in political life only vicariously, through their leaders' personal passions. ...
Having failed to garner either Americans' sympathy for her persona or their assent for her programme, Mrs Clinton is now winning by tapping a trait of American voters that has been unappreciated and under-exploited: their servility.
This column is interesting to read in connection with John J. DiIulio's piece in the STANDARD this week on "symbolitics." Clinton may have had a stronger emotional pull on New Hampshire Democratic women. But the Democratic campaign seems to re-set after each contest, and the news ahead of South Carolina and Nevada has returned to the Clintons' attacks on Obama's past. Before Iowa, these stories seem to have repelled voters from the Clintons. Before Iowa, however, Obama was also pulling voters toward him with his inspirational rhetoric. Lately that "pull" factor has been missing, it seems to me. The best thing for Obama would be a re-assertion of his central message while avoiding the appearance of stooping to the Clintons' level.