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Taking Stock: Day After Thanksgiving Edition

I'm thrilled to have the honor of blogging on this Friday when everyone is shopping and no one is online, because having an audience -- having these irritating things called "readers" -- is inhibitory to those of us for whom the placing of letters and words in a certain order is not just a craft but an art. This is No Constraints Friday! Right out of the box let me suggest that, during the next GOP debate, Ron Paul should wear antennae on his head like Ray Walston in "My Favorite Martian."

Also, an apology is in order: Recently, pretending to be an astute observer, I said that Dennis Kucinich is the candidate most likely to be secretly a member of the X-Men. That is incorrect, and stupid. Clearly the member of the X-Men is his awesomely powerful wife, Elizabeth, who can turn invisible, rip you to shreds with knives that shoot from her fingertips, and control the weather. THAT is an astute observation.
Now let's review the big news of the week:

The Huckabee boomlet seemed to have become a full-fledged boom. Could he be the Jimmy Carter of 2008? You know: Obscure southern governor, evangelical, nice smile, kind of refreshing and likeable, emerging from the corn stubble of Iowa to take the nation by storm? Who knows. But in a year when there was never a whole lot of dynamism in the polls, when months and months of campaigning didn't seem to rearrange the order of things despite the most fervent wishes of the press corps, Huckabee has emerged.

That's what you want to do in a primary campaign if you're a political nobody: Emerge. And then pray you're not crushed like a bug by the Establishment.

The informal, strangely durable (and extra-Constitutional) primary process that gives Iowa and New Hampshire disproportionate power is set up precisely to make Huckabees plausible. If you started with, say, Florida, or California, only Romney and Giuliani, among the Republicans, would have a good shot at winning. For the Democrats it'd be Clinton and Obama. No one else would be able to afford the TV campaign. But the small states, in our prevailing theory, give the little guys a shot. Giuliani may test that presumption with his Feb. 5 strategy. And it could be that Huckabee is peaking too early. Spot the idle speculation! (Like that guy William Goldman said about Hollywood: No one knows anything.)

Then there's Romney. He's at the top of the poll in Iowa. He's leading in New Hampshire, too. But he's never gotten the breathless news coverage for "emerging" -- because from the get-go he had more money than anyone else. That's your basic affluence penalty.

Romney's other problem: the softness issue. The Post/ABC poll shows that, although he's leading in Iowa, much of his support is "soft," meaning that some of his supporters are apparently willing to change their minds as quickly as Romney switched his position on abortion.

No self-respecting presidential candidate wants "soft" anywhere near his name. That word can get stuck on you the way "lazy" sticks to Fred Thompson like the scent of a polecat.

John McCain, despite having only two or three actual supporters in Iowa, can presumably claim that there's nothing soft about his support. No sirree: His little band of followers will not flinch as he, in turn, follows bin Laden to the gates of Hell.

All of this is made more confusing by the fact that Iowa doesn't have a normal election, but rather has some kind of weird Norman Rockwell town-meeting popularity-contest thing in which there is great strategic advantage in being the second choice of lots of voters. (You understand this concept, right? Supporters of non-viable candidates have to find a new place to park themselves?) And this is where Hillary Clinton has a major problem: She's not the second choice of very many people. She's a binary choice: Yes or Never.

If you've read this far, please post good recipes for turkey chili. Thank you.

--Joel Achenbach

By Post Editor  |  November 23, 2007; 10:52 AM ET
Categories:  A_Blog , Joel's Two Cents  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: As He Gains in Polls, Huckabee Critics Step Up Attacks
Next: McCain's Thanksgiving in Iraq


Huckabee was a scandal magnet when he was governor. He blames it on the liberal media and clinton machine. I am sorry but liberal journalists and Hillary Clinton did not make him commit five campaign finance violations. (although they certainly taught him how to do it).

Scandals distract you from your political goals, give comfort to the enemy and make you unproductive.

The most scandal free politician we have running is clearly Mitt Romney.

Posted by: DanLounsbury | November 24, 2007 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Too much turkey, Joel. You're out of step.
Everybody else moved past ridiculing Ron Paul on November 5th.
Try to keep up.

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi.

Posted by: westmiller | November 23, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Dang, that ole Huckabee boy just keeps it coming! There's no doubt about, that boy has what leadership looks like"!

Posted by: ih2005 | November 23, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Re. the next debate: Won't Ron Paul's antennae be hidden beneath the tin foil hat?

Also, I've been told that Mitt and Huckabee are unelectable simply because of their names. The theory - as expressed to me - is that if elementary school kids can make fun of a name, then it's a problem.

People said the same thing about Dukakis, FWIW.

Somehow, the Bushes did not fall prey to this theory, though those same people claim that they should have.


Posted by: -bc- | November 23, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Step 1
2 lbs - "chili grind" beef chuck
2 tsp - cooking oil/olive oil + "pam"
1 tbsp - Wick Fowler 2 Alarm chili powder
2 tsp - chopped garlic

After browning meat in big skillet [use a little oil and pam], put the browned meat into a three quart heavy saucepan, add the remaining ingredients and simmer [10 min.]. Simmering is done on low-medium heat on most stovetops.

Prepare Step 2 during the 10 minute simmer.

Step 2
1 - 8 oz can of Hunt's tomato sauce
1 - big can of Campbell's beef broth
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp - chopped garlic
8 oz - bottled water
1 tbsp - WF 2 Alarm chili powder
2 - serrano peppers
1/2 tsp - salt

Combine seasonings except the serrano peppers and add to beef mixture. Float the 2 serrano peppers on top of the mixture. Bring to a boil and hold for 3 minutes, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Then remove the floating serrano peppers.

Taste the mixture after an hour.

Correction to your personal taste stage!

Have handy:
a little bit of chopped onion, a little bit of chopped garlic, more 2 Alarm chili powder, red pepper, a little cumin, salt, and a little bit of brown sugar. Also more bottled water, of course. I personally never use the sugar, but a little bit is ok for most people. do not overdo sugar or you will make a hopeless, disgusting mess.

THIS will be your first correction simmer.

If necessary do a second "correction to your personal taste stage".

Simmer for 10 minutes.

Let stand for 40 minutes.


Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 23, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

bc's Easy Leftover Turkey Chili-

2 packages McCormack's Mild Chili Seasoning Mix

1.5 lb. shredded leftover turkey
1 can Red Kidney Beans (16 or so oz)
1 whole ripe tomato, chopped
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)
1/2 green or red pepper, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely (it's ok to use it out of a jar, if you're in a real hurry)
1 cup flour
1 cup water
(optional) 3-5 strips bacon, cooked (breakfast leftovers are an excellent source for this, and turkey bacon's OK, too)
Cayenne pepper

Put everything in a pot, only use 1/2 the water for the moment, mix and heat on medium. Add the extra water until it's a little watery, when it starts to boil, put on low, give one last stir, cover and go watch some football (1-2 posessions).

Stir until the water has boiled off - it should be somewhat creamy.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and shredded sharp cheddar cheese (if you really want creamy chili, mix the sour cream and cheese into the chili - delicious).


Posted by: -bc- | November 23, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I have long been of the opinion that if it weren't for Thanksgiving and Christmas, we would be up to our (somethings) in turkeys. It is apparent from recent experience that too many of us are not doing our duty and perhaps serving HAM or (God forbid) Cornish game hens in stead and now look at what has happened to the primaries.

Eat more turkey, in salads, on sandwiches with horseradish, as zooup, as turkey tetrazinni.

Still, in chili? EEEK!!

Posted by: ceflynline | November 23, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

yello, I must beg to differ. Thanksgiving is the one time of year I buy a loaf of Wonderbread (or store brand equivalent). The ultimate turkey sandwich cold-two slices wonderbread, sliced white meat, and mayo with lettuce Hot-two slices of wonderbread, white and dark meat, drowned in gravy with an ice cream scoop of mashed potatoes on the side. Heaven!

I wonder if the conventional wisdom Obama is wasting his time courting the youth vote will hold true (because young folks don't vote). Our 18 yo daughter has not only attended Obama events, she made a modest donation to his campaign.

Posted by: frostbitten | November 23, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I concur with rat-the. Making chili out of leftovers, particularly white meat is a criminal waste. As bad as making perfectly good moonshine out of corn and burning it in your car.

The only proper way to dispose of white meat is in samdwiches made with a hearty white bread (not your Wonder, the good stuff from the bakery section) with a cranberry spread.

And nice flat egg noodles are perfect for turkey soup with the dark meat.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 23, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Joel, if you'd refrigerated that spatchcocked turkey after dinner, it'd already be chili!

I wonder how Cincinnati Turkey Chili would taste?

P.S., love the taking stock.

Posted by: trisha2154 | November 23, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Sacrilege TBG! Noodles in turkey soup, the horror!
Everyone knows turkey soup needs rice. Overcooked completely flowered rice.
And a I always put some leek, but then I am a leek freak.

Yoki, good suggestions. I've done the mushroom thing, green beans works and corn is not bad too.

Posted by: ShriekingDenizen | November 23, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Joel -
Governor Hucklebee may be the "dark horse" on the Republican side, but you failed to consider the same possibility among the Democratic candidates for president.
Senator Clinton may well fade in Iowa in the next two months, and Senator Obama does not enjoy a public perception of being a seasoned politician despite his popular appeal among voters eager for change in party leadership. Former Senator Edwards lacks momentum, and among the "lesser" potentials there's only Senator Dodd who seems likely to "emerge" in Iowa and New Hampshire.
On the Democratic side, there's an argument that makes a "dark horse" more likely - namely that Democrats have a real appetite for finding a candidate that is the most electable against the Republican field. Only the news media appear to accept the proposition that Senator Clinton probably has too big a lead in the polls for anyone other than Senator Obama to play catch up now.
I sense that many Democrats here in New Hampshire who have already decided to support one candidate remain open to the serious discussion of electability for next year's nomination process.

Posted by: LiveFree | November 23, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Cook the carcass and wings until you get a nice tasty broth. Strain out bones and yucky stuff. Add trimmed meat, green beans, carrots, celery, onions and noodles and cook some more.

Serve in bowls.

Oh wait.. that's turkey soup.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 23, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Actaully, the Antenae belong on Both Dr.NO, and Kucinich!

Now FACT 1-Chili does not have BEANS!

BUT, don't forget a splash of beer at least!

Now a Reality check-Why would you do that to your Turkey? Turkey Sandwiches are inspired by God!

Then, Take the Carcass, some leftover trimmings(Skin, Bits of Dressing Etc, throw them into a large Pot with Diced Carrots, Onions, and Celery-Other ingredients welcome, and MAKE SOUP FOOL!

It goes great with the Cold Weather that always seems to arrive on T-Day! In Austin, Tejas, Mexico,(Thank's Bush-NOT!), we went from Record Heat on the 21Rst, to Snow just North of us!-Surprised Santa Anna Years ago when that happens!

Now, I guess it's time to Take a Political Head Count, and see how many of the Turkey's survived this Years Axing!

Personally, I'm afraid they all went underground and survived!

Maybe at Christmas...

Posted by: rat-the | November 23, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

shrieking's idea of vol-au-vent is excellent. To Yoki-ize it, add some artichoke hearts and sliced roasted red peppers, some button mushrooms. Fancy-schmancy.

Posted by: Yoki | November 23, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Makes two of us, peace at last.

Take a look at this fun question I came across regarding thanksgiving.


Posted by: PollM | November 23, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

For those encountering Joel for the first time, when he asks for posts on a certain topic, that's the cue to hit "Shuffle" on your topics list and fire away. Segues are optional.

For instance;

I don't think turkey chili will stop the Canuckian invasion today. Better prepare the vats of molten poutine instead.


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 23, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

The cream of chicken soup gives this away as a Minnesota recipe.

Turkey cubed, minimum of 1 cup, maximum whatever you have left.
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can diced green chilis
2 cans chicken stock, low sodium
1-2 cans great white northern beans
sliced jalapenos
grated cheese
sour cream

Mix all canned ingredients (no need to drain the beans) heat to just simmering, add turkey and turn down heat as soon as it is heated through. Add a little water if it's too thick. Serve topped with the cheese, jalapenos, and sour cream. You can hold this in a crockpot through at least a football double header. If it gets forgotten overnight and becomes a nice sludge in the bottom of the pot just put it on top of tortilla chips and microwave with grated cheese for turkey nachos.

Posted by: frostbitten | November 23, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

get a big pot and heat olive oil in the bottom. add diced onions to taste. let sizzle. add broccolli, corn, peppers (different colors,) zuchinni and any vegetables you think will taste good spicy. let cook, stirring. add diced up turkey, lots of crushed red pepper, salt and pepper, and as much diced up jalepeno as you want and let cook, stirring. add one pouch of taco mix that you can buy in any mexican section of a supermarket. next, add two to three cans of your choice of beans- depending on how much chilli you want. i like pinto, black and navy beans. then, add crushed tomato, also depending on how much chilli you want. with two cans of beans, i use one large can and one small can. let simmer, stirring occasionally. next, cook up a box of spanish rice, i like the yellow packets of saffron rice. make that and then serve the chilli on top. DELICIOUS i promise.

Posted by: sparkmika | November 23, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I don't do turkey chili but a family favorite is turkey vol-au-vent, you may know those hexagonal little cases of puff pastries. Could be served on toast too.
Sauté both a finely minced onion and a similarly cut branch of celery in butter.
Add a cup or 2 of diced carrots and some turkey stock just to cover the carrots. Cook until the carrots are tender then add fresh or frozen green peas. Cook until peas are just about ready.
In the mean time prepare a 2-2 turkey velouté with turkey stock. It's like a béchamel, but with turkey stock instead of milk and a roux instead of plain flour.
So let's make it with 3 cups of stock. So for a 2-2 velouté 6 tbl sp of butter are melted in a medium pot (on the stovetop) or in a Pyrex 2 liter measuring cup (in the microwave). Add 6 tbl sp of flour and cooked until nice golden color is obtained. You have achieve roux. Mix the stock in the roux with a wire beater. Cook on low temperature while mixing often, or better by 1 minute bursts in the microwage until a smooth velouté is obtained. Mix in the vegetable preparation and maybe 1.5 lbs of cubed turkey. Serve a generous dollop on a warm vol-au-vent for a fancy version of chicken-à-la-king.

Posted by: ShriekingDenizen | November 23, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse


Take some canned vegetarian chili and add some finely diced turkey. There -- my recipe for turkey chili. It may not be a lot but it's something.

Posted by: andrewgerst | November 23, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

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