One down, two to go. So now that Iowa has spoken – or at least the 122,255 who bothered to give a damn and cast their votes (that’s about 5.4% of the state’s population) – the man the Tea Party can’t stand has eked out the smallest margin of victory in its “illustrious” history. A whopping eight votes separated Mitt Romney from Rick Santorum, who basically lived in the state for the last six months and did everything except dry-hump the flag pole outside the Capital building.
So after all was said and done, what did the Hawkeye state reveal about who the likely Republican nominee will be? In a word, nothing. The fact is that going all the way back to 1976, only George W. Bush in 2000 went on to secure the nomination and the general election after winning in Iowa. Among political pundits, the Caucus is considered to be the kiss of death for candidates. It’s New Hampshire that, more often than not, has more to say about the eventual winner.
So why all the fuss? Because this time, the circus was far more “interesting” and the stakes considerably higher. The grand prize was a chance to oust the Dark Sith from the Death Star in Washington. Iowa brought out the very worst character traits in what proved to be the least diverse mob of miscreants ever on display for public consumption. I mean, imagine a choice between nuts and not quite so nuts; or a choice between homophobic and myopic or just a little bit out of touch; or perhaps a choice between being a full-fledged war monger or just suggesting an itsy bitsy bombing. Was it really that surprising that the least crazy candidate – Jon Huntsman – got 0.6% of the vote? That’ll teach him a thing or two about being sane!
The Party of Lincoln has so utterly and completely fallen into a shameless abyss that even the old Gipper himself, Ronald Reagan, would have a difficult if not impossible task of winning the nomination. Sad isn’t it that a party that brought us the likes of Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower is now giving the country a choice between the likes of Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.
And just in case you thought that Iowa would be the last stop on the gutter trail, I have some bad news for you. From here on in things get worse. New Hampshire promises to be a free for all as the remaining candidates gang up on the used-car salesman from hell in his own backyard. After which we pack up the bus and head down the coast to South Carolina. Then it’s on to Florida. All within the next three and a half weeks. Yummy! By the time this freak show is over, a steal-cage wrestling match will look like a night at Lincoln Center by comparison.
Over at the White House they are busy preparing for what will undoubtedly be their greatest threat. Barring a complete collapse, Mitt Romney will handily win in New Hampshire, come in either first or second in South Carolina and more than likely take Florida. Strange as it may seem, the longer this contest goes and the sicker it gets, the better the prospects of an Obama reelection look.
Whatever else you may think of the former governor of Massachusetts, there’s a reason the Tea Party doesn’t like or trust him. Simply put, he’s not one of them. He may talk the talk, but most doubt he can walk the walk. What the White House is hoping and praying for is that Romney, in an effort to survive the food fight that is surely coming his way, will move so far to the right that he will be unable to move back towards the center once the primaries are over and the general election commences.
Moderates and independents typically eschew extreme ideological shifts and trends, particularly when they are viewed as either distractions to what the main objective ought to be or, as was the case in Wisconsin and Ohio, payback for past political losses. Translation? It’s the economy stupid! Any Republican candidate who thinks he or she can win the presidency by talking about Big Bird or Planned Parenthood or alleged voter fraud better have an updated resume.
Social issues will not win the general election for the GOP this year; their only hope is to come to their senses and abandon the asinine strategy of appealing to a base that is so far to the right, Nixon would look like a Marxist. Personally, I’m betting they can’t resist themselves. It’s their nature; it’s written into their DNA. They are so imbedded into this twisted narrative that they can’t extricate themselves from it, even at the risk of losing the whole ballgame. If Iowa proved anything, it's that no matter how many times you rub a dog’s nose into his own business, he’ll inevitably disappoint you when you come home from work.