Iowa Caucuses: Much Ado About Not Much
It’s important that I write this before the results are known.
The silly season is well and truly upon us:
Donald Trump accidentally put money in the Communion plate at a church in Iowa
Sarah Pulliam Bailey / Washington Post
Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has been looking for ways to reach out to evangelical voters before the GOP primaries. On Sunday, the businessman and his wife attended church services …
Well, it’s not a lot more meaningful than what confronts us.
The Iowa causes have been meaningful previously exactly twice, and then only for the Democratic Party.*
[* explained below.]
For the Republicans, Iowa has been a bust. Consider last time (2012): “Mitt Romney” WON the Iowa caucuses. Oh wait. RICK SANTORUM won, but by the time it was known it was too late to do Santorum any good. The media buzz (and that’s all Iowa actually supplies) had already gone to Romney, the ultimate loser.
Ironically, the ACTUAL winner of Iowa was Ron Paul, who ended up winning 22 of Iowa’s 28 delegates at the state convention. The whole GOP side of Iowa is basically the single most expensive straw poll in the history of the world, with the actual results decided at the state party convention many months later.
No: Iowa is mostly for the press corps, who have willingly shilled this dreadful awfulness for a solid year and then before the last election in November 2014. In the mean time, we have missed story after story about our country and the world, because the reality show “Who Wants To Be President?” is cheap to produce and popular. All you need to extend a segment is to get a talking head (preferably a pretty girl) to blather on semi-intelligently about various fictitious outcomes to the ever-evolving scenario of political trivia with zero impact on the daily lives of any Americans …
… save for professional campaign staffs, fundraisers, pollsters and polling companies, bus and airline charter companies, networks, reporters and bored anchors.
This election has been money in the bank for them. As the secessionist standoff in Oregon was playing out, the top story that the majority of the echo chamber were listening to was “Donald Trump is boycotting the last GOP debate before IOWA!” And three cable news networks brought Trumps’ “veterans” fundraiser event life, like it was a high speed car chase in LA video’d via helicopter.
Look, we’re covering ourselves covering ourselves!
This has been relentless, unjustified and unprofessional. It has been infotainment and it has been relentless. Today, the coverage is actually, vaguely justified.
But, it context, it is NOT that earth shattering, nor is it particularly meaningful, except as a potential Public Relations Coup that brings in the bucks, and brings in the bodies. The snowball starts rolling here.
Almost a full year after I became sick to death of hearing about it. Perhaps you, too.
The issues have been non-issues. This has been full- bore (emphasis on “boor”) non-stop, pedal-to-the-metal coverage without ever delving into the actual issues that used to be part of American democracy. In a plutocracy, however, nonsense means never having to insincerely claim to be sorry.
The notion of “present” and “newsworthy” have both been thrown to the four winds, while speculating and tale-spinning have taken up larger and larger swaths of video and print news space. Again, this is great for accountants and lousy for democracy.
We have seen a longer campaign than any in American history and we know no more, particularly, about the candidates than we knew back in January 1976, save that there will be no “Who”? this time. More likely, “oh, THAT jerk.”
Our primary system remains broken and our voting system suspect.
But we have our bread and circuses.
Hours from now, we’ll know who won the first contest of a craptacular that’s extended back before the last election, and which has only mattered TWICE — for the Democrats.
Twice, it mattered: first for Jimmy Carter (who put Iowa on the map) when he came out and claimed front runner status when the nation (and myself) were still asking “Jimmy Who?”
That gave him the momentum to take New Hampshire a little over a month later, by, ironically, almost exactly the same percentage. Carter jumped out in front and stayed there. Except a week later, in Massachusetts, where he came in behind Scoop Jackson, Mo Udall, and, yes, George Wallace. (Kind of a totally different Democratic party than today.)
And, in 2008, when Barack Obama used a win in Iowa to also take the front runner status in delegates and the public eye, of which he is still, you could reasonably argue, the recipient of that attention. Obama, most forget, proceeded to lose New Hampshire thereafter. And those are the only two times that the Iowa caucuses have been relevant to the Democrats.
The GOPs’ Iowa has been more a graveyard than a fresh start.
I well remember how Phil Graham (R. Tex., who killed Glass-Steagall for Wall Street) went into Iowa with more money than Croesus and never emerged.? Click here for the Wikipedia recap of the FUBAR that transpired in the 2012 Iowa caucuses.
As far as the Iowa caucuses have gone since 1976? Mostly great for Iowa, and for talking heads, but not much else. Still, it is the weathervane that tells us that we will finally be HEARD (if we vote, that is).
But it has served the media well. Oh so well. Al Jazeera was bringing the live news feed from Geneva, where Margaret Chan, head of the World Health Organization just declared the Zeta Virus a world health emergency, but Fox, CNN and MSNBC were all babbling about the caucuses without adding any substance. Just chattering.
Or chittering, as the case may be.
This whole mess seems just a fig leaf for the complete breakdown of US society that’s a prelude to mass lead poisonings — less Flint than Smith & Wesson — that the GOPs seem to actually wish for.
They’re going to get their wish, I fear.
History, alas, isn’t what it was; history is what was is.