Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Up close and personal in Iowa

It's easy to see why we love a Presidential election year - there's more ups and downs than college football on a muddy field. To wit, just a few weeks ago, Hilary was a mortal lock for the Democratic nomination, sitting on a huge bankroll, the presumptive nominee. Today, as the New Hampshire primary takes place and she is likely to take another beating, there are rumors afoot that she's preparing to drop out of the race. I don't think she'll really cave that fast, but I also don't think there's much chance that she will rally later, as her hubby Bill has suggested. Back when he ran in the primaries he was a relative unknown - there was time to lose a few at the start and then make a run. Hilary is just the opposite - too well known - and if people don't like her now there's no reason they'll like her more in February. So if she gets drubbed again today, she'll have a long row to hoe.

Meanwhile, there's the crying thing. Speaking to a group of voters in Portsmouth, Hil got to the verge of tears. God knows it must be a mental and physical test to campaign 24/7 for weeks on end. But expectedly, there's not much sympathy out there. From this site:

Endless interpretation of the tears on the US TV cable networks ensued, some commentators seeing it as a sign that Senator Clinton knows her campaign is sinking fast, others that it was a "Muskie" moment, a reference to 1972 Democratic candidate Ed Muskie, whose campaign never recovered after he broke down in tears.
Even centrist people are suspicious that the crying thing was staged to make her look more human. I shudder to imagine what the Clinton haters will be doing with that on the talk shows today. Or for that matter, what other Dems will do with it. John Edwards didn't hesitate to stick a fork in:

"I think what we need in a commander-in-chief is strength and resolve, and presidential campaigns are tough business, but being president of the United States is also tough business," he said.
While we await results from New Hampshire, we have today a rare treat - a guest commentator provides a first hand account of the Iowa caucuses. Thanks to my old friend Frank, here's an inside look.

In reality, our season began in August of 2006. Our own past Governor Tom Vilsack tossed his hat in the ring and started the early interest during the State Fair '06. Other candidates perused the state on a frequent basis with all efforts intensifying (both parties) after our Republican Straw Poll in July of '07. Vilsack quickly exited the race and lent his support to Hillary. One candidate, Sen. Chris Dodd actually moved his wife and children to Des Moines and rented an ornately furnished brick home (go figure.....must be nice to have the means). All others appeared to live here in Iowa, however their temporary residences were rolling billboard style luxury buses (nice way to appeal to the common masses............???).

At this point I realized (call me slow learner) this was far different than my first exposure to the political scene. I remember accompanying my Grandfather to Democratic Headquarters in downtown Joplin, Missouri and lending my support for his short lived Congressional run against then unknown Sarcoxie native Gene Taylor. At the age of 4, I handed out pencils and wooden yardsticks imprinted with his name and slogan, extended my hand and asked for anyone's support by saying "please vote for my Grandpa!"

Fast forward 44 years, we live in an era of sound bites, instant news on demand, over produced commercials, endless reams of printed literature, countless opinions from infinite angles, calculating polls at the top of every hour, and recorded phone solicitations promising a better tomorrow. Believe me, over the past 18 months residents in Iowa have seen, lived, heard, tasted, and experienced them all ..............ten fold. Thanks for the attention (est. $67 million additional revenue added to our local economy) and as they say.........the memories (intense global scrutiny resulted in a record turnout of caucus attendees in every precinct throughout the state). We loved the attention, we loved being first in the Presidential candidate selection process, and feel privileged to make a statement for change.
To describe the caucusing process, from my perspective (registered Republican) was rather uneventful.The real action appeared to be on the Democratic side. Our precinct listed 550 registered voters. Final tallies reflected a 90% turnout. We loaded up in the van, traveled less than a mile to our neighborhood grade school, stood in line for 35 minutes, listened to candidate representatives (2 minutes each), voted, elected delegates, and drove home. The entire process took just over an hour. Calm, collected, methodical, and actually ...........rather boring. Thankfully, the national and local media covered "live" action on the Democratic side from various locations throughout the state. Far more engaging, a true sampling of the caucusing process, real American politics in action. Glad for the experience, however reflecting back, I may change my registration prior to the next election (...take a walk on the wild side).

Late Friday afternoon as the dust began to settle from the wave of departing media attention, neighborhood yard signs remained visible, while the junk mail and phone solicitations became yesterday's nuisance. All eyes became focused on New Hampshire. Had Cinderella's carriage turned into a pumpkin all that quickly? After 18 months, could it really be over in just a flash? To some, it never really happened or even deserved an ounce of effort (Rudy). To Sen. Joe Biden and Sen. Chris Dodd, farewell. Thanks for the attention, but don't ask for help when moving your family back to the East coast (although, some Iowan's would probably offer help anyway). Hillary immediately offered her spin on the results by stating, "Iowa has a really poor track record of choosing Presidential candidates." Thanks Hillary, don't hurry back anytime soon, I heard the once open invitation has been rescinded. Huckabilly, sorry I mean Huckabee, move on with your good ol' boy mentality, or next time go barefoot, wear a wife beater t-shirt and overhauls. Enjoy the attention while it lasts (one Arkansas Governor as President is enough for all of us). Finally, even though my candidate (Mitt) came up short, his character, resolve, poise, and determination seemed ever sharpened. New Hampshire is today's Iowa. Treat them well, our "choice for change" will be with us for years to come.


DodgerScott said...

Nice. Glad to see you just regurgitated what everyone else told you to think. I'd like to read a blog that is a little more refreshing. How about a blog that offers a unique perspective or a personal inflection? Did you see the crying thing? Please. Turn off Fox News. If you think voting for Obama is going to end the political climate in Washington, I have to wonder. You want change? I got three quarters two dimes and a nickle right here.

Barry Martin said...

Wow, who peed in your Post Toasties? You overlook that I have my own correspondent in Iowa, for Pete's Sake! (Thanks, Frank. Don't let Scott get you down, he's having a bad decade...)And hey, don't EVER accuse me of watching Fox News - or MSNBC - or any of those partisan hacks. You know I am above petty politics. And I keep my TV on important things, like ESPN and the Food Network...