It would be folly to conclude too much from Iowa -- especially after it seemed like there were four or five acceptance speeches!
But we can say two things:
1) Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mike Huckabee are for real.
2) Hillary Clinton is eminently beatable.
Likability seemed to be paramount to the gentle Iowan soul, and Obama and Huckabee are certainly that, while Clinton is much less so.
But the Iowa results pose more questions than they answer. Will Obama have the strength to take down the vaunted and well-funded Clinton machine in the upcoming sprint to the nomination? Will Huckabee attract the secular support he'll need to make Iowa more than a revival meeting? Can Rudy Giuliani step in after the first few contests and take over? What the heck happened to Mitt Romney? Does his knockdown smooth the way for John McCain?
And is John Edwards running for president of the United States or the Teamsters?
While pondering such things, there may be a few other conclusions you can reach from the Iowa caucuses.
After Clinton's and Romney's disappointing showings -- a surprising third and a distant second -- you have to wonder if it's possible to promise or spend your way, respectively, into the White House.
In addition, Republicans had better look at Iowa as a huge red flag. Not only did the Democratic winner, Obama, look extremely presidential in his acceptance speech, but reports indicated much more energy and excitement in the Democratic than the Republican ranks at the caucuses.
Obama may be fresh and inexperienced, but in his acceptance speech he showed all the potential he hinted at in his stirring 2004 keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. And, in fact, it seemed like a nomination acceptance speech Thursday night, the way he repeatedly invoked unity and bipartisanship and appeared to be talking past not only Iowa, but the Democratic Party.
It was as brilliant as Howard Dean's scream was fatal.
Still, one other question looms over Obama's campaign: How would he govern -- like the centrist he sounds like now, or like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and others who have given over to the extremists in the Democratic Party?
But in soundly defeating the "inevitable" Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama answered the admiring question we asked after his 2004 introduction to the national stage: Is this guy for real?
You bet he is.