Thank goodness we are done with Iowa. The caucus process confuses us East Coast elites, with its Norman Rockwell-esque meetings and quasi-democratic rituals in one room school houses and open corn fields. The Iowan religious worship of the state fair as high culture is foreign to us, and frankly we can’t relate to an afternoon snack of deep fried butter (with an angioplasty chaser, no doubt). Bottom line is that we can’t trust the opinion of anyone who has never seen an ocean up close. The candidates by and large agree, and most will never set foot in the state ever again, except to endorse a different candidate 4 years from now. Honesty can now come out of hibernation. They can say what they REALLY think about ethanol subsidies today with impunity.
While I am happy that the show is moving onto more familiar frozen ground for me in New Hampshire, I do feel it necessary to pause ever so briefly and reflect on Iowa and what the results mean to the presidential election and to America.
The Sweater Vest: After Jim Tressel was fired from THE Ohio State football program this year, I thought that was the death knell for the traditional sweater vest. The pullovers of the future would all have sleeves and crew necks. Rick Santorum’s surge and Iowa victory* means more free publicity for the sleeveless V-neck fashion fixture. (* - When his poll numbers are below the margin of error for 8 consecutive months, and he comes within 8 votes of winning Iowa, let’s be fair – he won.) In chilly New Hampshire, I look forward to the rebirth of the down vest, Santorum-style.
Money: When it came to print and media advertising in Iowa for their respective candidacies, money was no object. Romney spent $7.1 million (his campaign plus his SuperPAC); Perry spent $9.1 million (his campaign plus his SuperPAC); Paul spent $2.8 million; Santorum spent $560 thousand. Could this mean that money is no longer the determining factor in statewide and national campaigns? Not quite, but it is encouraging to know that the actual hard work of retail politics, shaking hands and kissing babies can pay off. An historically weak field doesn’t hurt, either.
The Catholics: 8 years ago, John Kerry was the Catholic candidate for President, and he couldn’t even receive Communion in every diocese without first undergoing an exorcism. Everyone demanded to see his long form baptismal certificate before he would be taken seriously. Not exactly the ideal representative for the faith. This time around, you’ve got a guy like Santorum who seems more authentically Catholic – 7 kids and 100% pro-life record without a prenatal flip-flop on his resume. I wonder if Romney will leak that Santorum would be taking orders from the Vatican if he won the White House.
Negative Advertising: Damn, it works. Everyone wishes it didn’t, but it does. That’s a fact that even Newt can’t pretend doesn’t exist.
Rudy, Rudy: Not Giuliani, Ruettiger. The movie Rudy features a devout Catholic boy who outworks everyone to earn his opportunity to compete on the greatest field in sports one time. His belief in himself willed him forward until his dream was fulfilled. Now, we have Catholic boy Santorum reliving the Rudy story on the biggest playing field in the world, American presidential politics. Expect a Rudy endorsement and perhaps a 3-D re-release of the 1993 motivational classic if Santorum’s run continues.
Movement Conservatives: These guys hate Romney because they see him as McCain 2.0, and a Romney nomination would guarantee 4 more years of Communist rule. Can’t let that happen, comrade! Santorum’s win slows Mitt’s victory march to Tampa, and gives them more time to invent a fire-breathing competitor, preferably one not named Trump.
Chris Matthews: He predicted during the summer that Michelle Bachmann would win the GOP nomination for President. That particular prognostication isn’t looking too good right about now. Matthews could consider becoming a weatherman. Those guys aren’t paid to predict anything accurately, either.
Mitt Romney: Now that Perry (almost), Cain and Bachmann have been vanquished, there are fewer Far Right nuts left to split the conservative vote in South Carolina and Florida. Romney’s clearest path up to this point was to quietly enjoy the circular firing squad going on beside him and be left standing at the end of the contest. With Perry (almost), Cain and Bachmann gone, it becomes more difficult for Mitt to hide, and at some point, he’ll have to explain to the Christian Right why he believes that Joe Smith found some gold plates from God buried in upstate New York with inscriptions that only Smith could translate.
The Iowa Economy: Now that the Job Creators are leaving town and heading to the Granite State, I fully expect the resulting economic slump to be Barack Obama’s fault, or perhaps God’s punishment for legalized gay marriage. With the press gone, who will buy all those donuts and coffee?
Donald Trump: You might call him The Celebrity Political Apprentice, because no one wants him to run right now, except for Donald Trump and maybe Meatloaf.
Comedy Central: No Cain, no Bachmann, no Perry (almost)…no fun! Well, less fun at any rate. There will still be plenty of nomination battle chuckles, gaffes and guffaws to come, but let’s be honest – Bachmann is the Lucille Ball of politics, and Perry is an entire season of Hee Haw all rolled into one single debate appearance. They will be missed.
The laugh track starts in New Hampshire immediately. Two debates this week – January 7th and January 8th.
“Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night!” – Margo Channing, All About Eve