BOSTON -- Well, so much for political bingeing. Super Tuesday, Super Duper Tuesday, Plus-Size Tuesday, Vastly Engorged and Rotund Tuesday turned into a serious case of political bulimia. Never before have so many gorged on such huge portions of political expectations, only to find themselves purged the next morning.
By the wee hours of the morning, only 35,000 votes out of 14 million separated Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama. If Sen. John McCain was standing a little taller, Mike Huckabee was still vertical. The only big news came when Mitt Romney, after another night's sleep, lay down his wallet and quit. That was after banks of TV analysts had spent hours mining mountains of data for nuggets of meaning.
Even a political junkie felt overstuffed trying to digest arcane rules in primaries scattered across the political landscape. Quick, which states have winner-take-all and which have proportional primaries? What's a superdelegate - and does she need a phone booth in which to change her allegiance?
In addition to Mitt Romney, who suspended his campaign yesterday, there is another loser we can identify with absolute certainty. It's the Harold Stassen of election-year politics: conventional wisdom. To wit, the 10 Dead Tenets of the Late, Great C.W.
It'll be all over by Feb. 6. Remember all the states hustling to get into the Super Tuesday lineup so they wouldn't be left on the tarmac? Goodbye, California. Hello, Oregon, the big May enchilada.
Kennedys are kingmakers. The C.W. mongers swooned when the New Frontier endorsed Next New Thing. But Ted and Caroline's excellent adventure for Mr. Obama didn't even deliver Massachusetts.
Southern white men won't vote for a black candidate for president. Circle "false" on your answer sheet for Georgia, where 48 percent of Democratic white men went for Mr. Obama, disproving the last acceptable bigotry: anti-redneckism. Unless, of course, they were proving that Southern white men still won't vote for a woman. Oh well.
Evangelicals vote in lockstep. Well, this year, they didn't march left, right - or, rather, right, right - together. Nationally, Mr. Huckabee, Mr. Romney and Mr. McCain divided the evangelical vote.
McCain is the man of the military hour. The man who prides himself on outflanking George Bush in his pro-war stance won among Republicans who are against the war. Peaceniks for War Unite!
Money uber alles. After investing $35 million, Mr. Romney still couldn't pull off a leveraged buyout of the Republican Party. His campaign began to look like one of those Florida bumper stickers: "I'm spending my children's inheritance."
Dittoheads rule. The combined weight of Republican talk radio was thrown at John McCain. It bounced off.
Value voters rule and familymeister James Dobson sits on the Republican throne. See above.
A female commander in chief is an oxymoron. When Democrats were asked who was most qualified to be commander in chief, Mrs. Clinton won, 51 to 36, over Mr. Obama. Is that a badge or a burden?
The Democratic Party will be torn apart by race and gender. To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To a pollster, every demography has its difference and every subdivision its divisiveness. But the exit polls tell us that 72 percent of the Democrats will be happy if Mrs. Clinton is the nominee, and 71 percent if it's Mr. Obama.
In the end, the Tsunami Tuesday may be better known for the tornadoes in the South and the free fall in the stock market, but let us not discount the tenacity of conventional wisdom. There is after all, one piece of C.W. still on our platter:
The death of the nominating convention. We can all agree that the days when a nomination is decided in a big, brawling hall by big, brawling delegates are over. Uh, sure.
Ellen Goodman is a columnist for The Boston Globe. Her column appears Fridays in The Sun. Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Chapman's column will return next week.