And now I’m back. From outer space. If by “outer space,” I mean “a cabin in the woods with the Garin Clan.” And I do.

As far as Iowa goes, Henry Clay once said “I’d rather be right than President.” (Incidentally, the second quotes-Google search for this sentence brings up someone posting the coveted Feingold-Kucinich result on my Presidential quiz.) My phrase would be something more like “I’d rather be wrong than clairvoyant.” Which may seem to undermine the whole process of making predictions, but perhaps it’s part of the preparation principle.

The preparation principle is pretty basic and possibly almost universally held as a belief structure among people. It’s approximately If one is prepared for something, it won’t happen. Now most people might tack on a “bad” to this. As in “if one is prepared for something bad…” These people are optimists. In general, I think that the universe sees preparation as an exercise in prevention and thus works swiftly to prevent the prepared-for. Sometimes. In some ways. I don’t want e-mails talking about how someone brushed their teeth or combed their hair this morning and then still had a meeting or went to work.

The point is, I was really really wrong about Hillary Clinton. And this makes me really really happy. So bring on the saucy remarks about how I jumped the gun and spoke too soon… I’m happier than you are.

On the other hand, if you flip Ron Paul & Rudy Giuliani and give Huckabee a much bigger bump, I was pretty close on the Republican side. Not that this is where I’m putting any hope or much interest. And if Huckabee gets anointed, it’s going to be awfully hard for him to win, methinks. Although Obama v. Huckabee might be some kind of bizarre dogfight. I don’t anticipate a ton of turnout there.

But fortunately, my anticipations tend to be wrong. And while everything I can see leads me to believe that Obama is only fractionally better than Clinton or Huckabee, fractionally better is about fifty times more significant an improvement than I’ve seen from a mainline Presidential candidate since… Mondale? Really in my lifetime, functionally, since I didn’t start following Presidential elections till 1988, and Dukakis really seemed a buffoon. So that’s pretty exciting, all around. It would be a lot more exciting if he hadn’t equivocated on the idea of a full pullout of troops in Iraq by 2013, but at least he didn’t vote for the war in the first place (yes, I realize this is a technicality – he wasn’t in the Senate at the time).

Back to work now, and much more later. Today seems awfully surreal already and on the way toward the swirlier. The year already feels very old. Maybe that’s why I shaved today.