Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The indifferent, the bad and the ugly

A curious thing about the inevitable Mitt Romney, who squeezed out an eight-vote plurality last night among Iowa Republican caucus-goers, is that he could run easily as a Democrat if the situation required it. He’s already proved that in Massachusetts.

That doesn’t mean he has progressive convictions, merely that by obscuring any convictions he really may have, if he has any, he retains the ability to shape-shift into whatever it takes to draw voters. That’s useful when, rather than running for president, you’ll be running against the incumbent.

Rick Santorum’s close second-place finish was hardly a surprise after it became evident the reactionary Christian types were going to circle their wagons around him. Other than his opposition to same-sex marriage, the issue upon which Christianity as we know it apparently will rise or fall, no one really knows much else about him.

The most reassuring thing about the caucus results involved who was sent packing.

Rick Perry, for instance, who threw his Brokeback Mountain coat and cowboy boots into the back of the truck and headed home to Texas, where stupid plays more effectively than it does in the rest of the country. Hooray for Iowans --- who handed that pretty but dim-witted good old boy his first election defeat.

Iowans also had few problems recognizing Newt Gingrich as the rather sad, disorganized, hypocritical and morally bankrupt has-been that he is.

And poor Michele Bachman, who proved that old-time religion won’t take you all that far when it’s combined with an indifferent education and the absence of a penis.

The madder-than-hell crowd continued to gather round Ron Paul, who came in third. Neither especially religious nor especially thoughtful, this group knows what it’s against (taxes, for instance) but has no clear idea of what it might be for. Dr. Paul has the ability to say at least one thing that will appeal at some point to nearly everyone. Those who become fixated on that bright and shiny object then fail to note that much of the other stuff he says is just plain nuts.

The survivors will be moving on now, thank goodness --- we’ve had about enough here in the heartland for this four-year cycle.

I’ll be watching to see if the Christian crusaders sharpen their anti-Mormon knives and get busier slicing and dicing Mitt now and if Santorum can gain traction elsewhere on a single issue. Blessedly, this all will be observed from a distance.


The Iowa caucuses have drawn their usual share of criticism, based principally on the assertion our state isn’t representative of the nation as a whole, whatever that means.

Of course it isn’t. Every Iowan knows that. It’s not intended to be. And what state is “representative”? That’s one of the reasons why having 50 of them makes life so interesting.

What the Iowa caucuses do is give anyone interested in running for president many highly public opportunities to shoot himself or herself in the foot. It’s just as well that happens early in the process. And it could happen anywhere. We just came up with the idea first and have managed to hang on to it.

It's also useful to remember that Romney hardly campaigned in Iowa at all, wisely steering clear of the Christian freak show. And won it (narrowly) anyway. Which gives some idea of his appeal.

Besides, a heck of a lot of money pours into Iowa during the caucus season. Who could argue with a growth industry?

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