The Iowa caucuses are caucuses, not even a primary. They have a lousy record of predicting the eventual nominee, but their significance in the eyes of the media grows larger and larger and larger in the absence of any meaningful reportable activity in the presidential nomination contest.
Fred Cagle argues that we are all wasting our time by paying so much attention to Iowa. Iowa is like those NFL pre-season games: the teams don’t always have their acts together or even care all that much. The real contest season that counts starts later.
I’ve always considered the Iowa caucus a speed bump on the road to picking a president—the place where televangelist Pat Robertson beat George H.W. Bush, and it was won last time by President Mike Huckabee. My suspicions were confirmed when I went out there in 2008 to follow a group of Tennessee legislators campaigning for Fred Thompson.
Gov. Jimmy Carter of Georgia went to Iowa and spent time there in 1976 and when he won the caucus he was an overnight sensation. In addition to all his other sins, Carter injected an anonymous collection of house parties out on the prairie into the national conversation. Political reporters discovered they could start the coverage of the presidential campaign early and they learned to love Des Moines. Hey, it was the heartland.
The caucus season begins with presidential candidates slavishly kissing the ring of Archer Daniels Midland and ethanol subsidies. Then the candidates buy voters tickets and feed them to get them to a barbecue/straw poll and the press treats it like it means something. ...
Will winning Iowa give someone momentum into the primaries? John McCain finished fourth in Iowa, and then won South Carolina.
New Hampshire takes pride in picking its own winner, rarely paying much attention to the farmers out on the prairie.
My point in all this is that the Iowa caucus has very little to do with who becomes president. It is a prelude to the real campaign and it entertains the press and political junkies. It is a place for candidates to practice a stump speech.
The results this time will not tell us anything about who will win the nomination, but we’ll have wall to wall coverage anyway. I don’t see any way we will ever relegate Iowa to the position it deserves.
Professor Stephen G. Bloom: “I’ve lived in many places, lots of them foreign countries, but none has been more foreign to me than Iowa.”
Stephen G. Bloom, a professor at the University of Iowa, in the Atlantic, describes with wonder and deep contempt the bizarre and backward culture of the state in which he disapprovingly resides.
Whether a schizophrenic, economically-depressed, and some say, culturally-challenged state like Iowa should host the first grassroots referendum to determine who will be the next president isn’t at issue. It’s been this way since 1972, and there are no signs that it’s going to change. In a perfect world, no way would Iowa ever be considered representative of America, or even a small part of it. Iowa’s not representative of much. There are few minorities, no sizable cities, and the state’s about to lose one of its five seats in the U.S. House because its population is shifting; any growth is negligible. Still, thanks to a host of nonsensical political precedents, whoever wins the Iowa Caucuses in January will very likely have a 50 percent chance of being elected president 11 months later. Go figure.
Maybe Ambrose Bierce described it right when he called the U.S. president “the greased pig in the field game of American politics.” For better or worse, Iowa’s the place where that greased pig gets generally gets grabbed first. ...
Iowa is a throwback to yesteryear and, at the same time, a cautionary tale of what lies around the corner.
Which brings up my dog. And here’s why: My dog is a kind of crucible of Iowa.
What does Hannah, a 13-year-old Labrador, have to do with an analysis of the American electoral system and how screwy it is that a place like Iowa gets to choose—before anyone else—the person who may become the next leader of the free world?
For our son’s eighth birthday, we wanted to get him a dog. Every boy needs a dog, my wife and I agreed, and off we went to an Iowa breeding farm to pick out an eight-week-old puppy that, when we knelt to pet her, wouldn’t stop licking us. We chose a yellow Lab because they like kids, have pleasant dispositions, and I was particularly fond of her caramel-color coat. Labs don’t generally bite people, although they do like to chew on shoes, hats, and sofa legs. Hannah was Marley before Marley.
Our son, of course, got tired of Hannah after a couple of months, and to whom did the daily obligation of walking the dog fall?
That’s right. To me.
And here’s the point: I can’t tell you how often over the years I’d be walking Hannah in our neighborhood and someone in a pickup would pull over and shout some variation of the following:
“Bet she hunts well.”
“Do much hunting with the bitch?”
“Where you hunt her?”
To me, it summed up Iowa. You’d never get a dog because you might just want to walk with the dog or to throw a ball for her to fetch. No, that’s not a reason to own a dog in Iowa. You get a dog to track and bag animals that you want to stuff, mount, or eat.
That’s the place that may very well determine the next U.S. president.
Jim DeMint: Your tax dollars at work: $2 million grant to build a “culinary amphitheater,” wine tasting room, and gift shop in Richland, Washington. That makes sense, with the federal deficit where it is, everyone needs a drink.
Cedar Falls, Iowa wants keys to residents’ homes. It’s for their safety.
Kayleigh via Jose Guardia: Keynesianism is the equivalent of pouring your can of soda into a glass and trying to claim that, because the soda is now in the glass, you have more soda than if you had not poured it into the glass.
The flooding in eastern Iowa has reached the point of catastrophe. Towns are overwhelmed, businesses destroyed, and crops are gone. A fifth of the corn and soybeans are gone. Fox News is calling it “Iowa’s Katrina.” Here is a gallery of aerial photographs at the web site of the newspaper I used to deliver every afternoon, the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
The thing is, though, the people of eastern Iowa seem to be stepping up in the Iowa stubborn way. I have seen any number of man-on-the-street interviews, and nobody is complaining. They all seem to be working to solve their problem, which is not surprising because Iowans do not complain about tragedy. They complain about hot weather and dry weather, but not tragedy. And I have looked for reports of looting and come up empty so far.
Katrina has become a metaphor for many things beyond natural disaster, including governmental and individual incompetence (depending on your point of view). In Iowa there is a 500 year flood, but the people are not paralyzed, whining, or looting. There will be no massive relief effort from around the world, and nobody will step up to help Iowans except for other Iowans. Yet years from now, there will be no Iowans still in FEMA camps.
The difference is not in the severity of the flood, but in the people who confront the flood.
Iowa, in my view, is the ultimate dreadful flat Midwestern fly-over state with a name beginning with a vowel. Beyond producing lots of corn, Iowa’s only apparent raison d’etre seems to me to consist of making crossing Indiana seem not so bad.
The MSM is agog over Huckabee and Obama’s triumph. Some serious chin-stroking is underway this morning as the punditocracy unlimbers its powers of divination and starts explaining what it all means.
But Michael Judge was probably right yesterday, when he suggested in the Wall Street Journal that we all just Ignore Iowa.
in 2004 just 6% of the state’s eligible voters attended a caucus, according to a study by Prof. Michael McDonald of George Mason University. Many Iowans say that number is deceptively low, because President Bush ran unopposed and most Republicans stayed home. With a big turnout year as 2008 is expected to be, caucus organizers still will be lucky to get one in five voters to make the effort. ...
You’ll have to forgive us Iowans; we’ve been bombarded by innumerable pamphlets, polls, phone calls, television ads, text messages, etc. And our borders have been compromised by a press corps that’s pounced on every story, however mundane, as if it were a talking pig. (Go to CNN.com to see streaming video of the elderly Iowa woman who carved a bust of Obama from 23 pounds of butter.)
Is all this hoopla really justified? In 1988, then New Hampshire governor John Sununu famously said, “The people of Iowa pick corn, the people of New Hampshire pick presidents.” He was right, at least about Iowans not picking presidents. The winner of the Iowa Caucus, incumbents excluded, has never—well, almost never—won the presidency (Jimmy Carter being the exception to the rule).
Reuters reports that a small Iowa town has identified itself as the future birthplace of Star Trek Captain James T. Kirk.
A small Iowa town is trying to lure tourists by going where no town has gone before — forward 200 years in time to be the birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk from cult science fiction show “Star Trek.”
Welcome to Riverside, a once prosperous little farming town with a population of 928 that has fallen on hard times, wants to attract tourists and much needed money with a “Star Trek” museum to revive its largely lifeless, boarded-up main drag.
The town has no famous offspring like West Branch, 25 miles away, where former U.S. President Herbert Hoover was born in 1874, and can’t boast the “World’s Largest Strawberry,” a 15 feet high fiberglass fruit, like Strawberry Point, 100 miles to the north.
So former town councilor and self-declared “Trekkie” Steve Miller in 1985 persuaded the council to declare Riverside the future birthplace as Kirk, a main character of the “Star Trek” television series that began in 1966 and following films.
“Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry wrote a book saying Kirk will be born in Iowa, but didn’t say where,” said Miller. ”So I thought ’why not here?”’
Kirk’s birthday was never officially established but the town lists it on a plaque as March 22, 2228. The show’s official Web site, however, says he was born on March 22, 2233. Canadian actor William Shatner who played the captain of the starship Enterprise was born in real-life on March 22.
One game warden, at least, lives up to Iowa’s nickname: the Hawkeye State.
the bird appeared to have caught a single talon in a knothole in the branch when it landed. Apparently, the bird tried to take off, losing its balance. It hung from the talon, upside down.
Because the eagle was hanging over a cliff and high in the air, ropes and ladders seemed unlikely rescue tools, Sandholdt said. Many in the group thought a mercy killing was the best option.
Sandholdt said he asked for a chance to free the bird with his rifle, figuring at best the bird would fall into the lake and have to be rescued for rehabilitation at a clinic.
“It’s safe to say no one had any confidence that I could do that,” Sandholdt said of his proposed sharpshooting. “My buddies were waiting for a poof of feathers.”
Sandholdt bent a tree sapling over to use as a brace. He used the muzzleloader’s scope to take aim, and the bullet traveled 60 to 70 feet, cleanly through the edge of the knothole. Sandholdt figures he hit the talon, too.
The eagle flew away. Officers waited for it to collapse. Instead, the bird kept flying, disappearing over the horizon.