Monday, February 01, 2016

The Ridiculous Importance of Iowa (sometimes)

Hey.  How are you?  Been awhile.  Here we find ourselves again.  Older?  Sure.  Wiser?  Meh... aybe.  More cynical?  Definitely.  But content as ever, all things considered, and with an appetite for wonder that has yet to be quenched, despite some seriously wondrous sights and experiences since the last gatherings here.  Life, as they say, has been good over the past decade or so.  (That long? My how we grow old...)

An overdue welcome (back) as we wait now for the caucus results to come in, and I suppose I have left it that touch too long to go on record with my instinct for awhile now that it will be Rubio, and not Trump, that emerges from this slog.  The early results are pointing to a strong 3rd place showing for him, and a fading Trump, that could set Rubio on course as the non-Trump/Cruz alternative, and thus the most electable conservative candidate. That's how that crew usually decide.  As wild as the Trump experiment has been, it never - or has not yet at least - seemed, well, real.  And at some point, when the field narrows and second preferences begin to count, Rubio will start to pull away, Trump will show his true colours, and Rubio will be all the more loved among the other side for saving the party from itself.

That's my fear, anyway.  Clinton will win the Democratic nod, as we have known since she accepted the job at State after losing to Obama, and Sanders will be thanked for his courtesy and all the young new enthusiasm.  He succeeded in getting his ideas heard, and driving the conversation for awhile, and the Clintonites disregard him at their peril.  Such a squeaker in Iowa, and if the 51/49 numbers hold [update: 0.2%!], there will be a lot of wondering about what might have been if a few more voters had switched.  The ridiculousness of democracy's small margins.  I'm torn because the Bern's campaign would make for great idealistic theatre through the summer, but stomaching the media treatment of his approach and the likelihood of a loss in the general might be too tough to take.  A stronger candidate might well have won against her, but no one has shown up over the past few years (O'Malley's numbers are hilarious, frankly) so that's what the left will have to run with... Ah, Bernie, in my younger days...

If it is Rubio, I think Hillary could be in trouble.  He is such a contrast to her in age and approach and (lack of) baggage.  He is exactly that inch-deep candidate that American voters might be interested in having a beer with, who seems to have a real line of religious/ideological extremism well hidden behind a non-threatening persona.  Exactly the kind of candidate who would happily rely heavily on the old Republican neo-con hacks who can't wait to get back in.  The full catastrophe, as Zorba might add in another context.

If it is, improbably, Trump at the end, with Ann Coulter and Palin and the rest at his side - Hillary and co. will figure out a way to run against him that works.  If it is Cruz, it could be a landslide in her favour, "God's Glory" notwithstanding.  Iowa is not a decider, but its role in winnowing down the field, while not necessarily picking the nominee, before any other states have had the chance to weigh in, does seem a bit perverse.  Especially the focus on the magnitude of smallish 5-10% swings that are emphasized all out of proportion.  At least until New Hampshire weighs in..

Ah, New Hampshire.  Fond memories of that state 12 years on, and some quixotic campaigning for Dr. Dean.  More on that anon, surely.  The news for now is that I think that the stars are aligned for a quick return to NH in the coming days, for another random weekend and front row seat at history in the making (this time perhaps with a few more obvious selfie options to seek out!)

It's the idea of that trip (as well as the surprising recollection of this site over some sombre Friday drinks recently - you know who you are) that have conspired to spur on the possibility of this blog's reawakening.  Let's hope for mild weekend weather and so an unlikely drive to pancake breakfasts and so forth in small towns outside Nashua and Manchester.  And the loss of any Marcomentum that may emerge from tonight.

You know, I think the trek to the rallies and the meet-and-greets and the town halls (and a Carly Fiorina pre-Super Bowl party?) are going to happen.  Pourquoi pas, as the saying goes.  However brief it lasts, it is and will feel good to be back.


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