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January 4, 2012 / Political Fluency

Iowa

This might as well be a review of the Slipknot album by the same name because a ten year-old metal album is just as relevant as what happened last night.

My only tweet about the caucus was “Watching Erin Burnett’s ass on CNN. And they’re talking about Iowa or something.”

Let’s start with the most important thing from yesterday: it was my first time trying Johnnie Walker Double Black scotch.

The flavor is definitely stronger than the regular Black. The scotch was so smoky that it was almost caramel – like a thick flavor.

I didn’t like it much at first. Not that it was bad, but I couldn’t help but compare it to the regular Black which I like a lot.

However as I drank it more I started to like it more. I will taste the Black again before having a few glasses of the Double Black later this winter.

But only after having a few Woodford Reserve nights of watching politics and splitting the bottle amongst friends.

The plans with those friends to get a drink after the caucuses were scrapped as the night kept crawling on. Caucus results can get weird as results were slow in the 1-4% of first votes were in, then suddenly it bumped up to 21%. There was also a bump from something like 55% of precincts reporting to 81%.

Watching the results go on for so long recalled the 2:30am call for George W. Bush winning Florida’s electoral votes to defeat Al Gore in 2000.

The 8-vote margin of victory was less than seven thousandths of a percent!

The lesson from last night and 2000? Your vote counts!

I traveled home at 11:30pm and stopped watching at 1am. That’s only a shade later than when I normally go to bed, but functionally both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were the winners. They both gave victory speeches and alluded to future contests. They both made the morning papers as the winners. And the result isn’t binding the way an election is for the winner to be awarded a position upon the final vote tally.

Duh, Winning:

Rick Santorum – A big congratulations is due here. He mimicked the Mike Huckabee strategy from 2008 by camping out in the state and practicing old-fashioned retail politics in all 99 counties that the caucus was made for. This is a big political comeback for a guy who lost by 18 points as an incumbent in a reelection bid 5 years ago.
He gave by far the best speech of the night, tracing his blue-collar heritage to contrast himself with Mitt Romney going forward.

Mitt Romney – He wrapped up the nomination by winning last night. He just needs to stay in cruise control and practice his answers to the questions and attacks over the next 2 months that are bound to be repeated in the Fall.

Newt Gingrich – He really is a loser for dropping 10 points in the past 3 weeks to go from first place to fourth place in the polls, but there is a long list of losers below so there’s no reason to add him as he did solidify himself as the top of the 2nd tier in position to acquire Bachmann and Perry’s supporters.

Egg on their face:

Rick Perry – He came in with an omelet on his face; just pointing it out here again.

Michele Bachmann – She raised her profile to a national level, but the connotation is a net negative at this point. She was born in Waterloo and didn’t even win that county. Speaking of Slipknot, lead singer Corey Taylor called Waterloo “a sty” and blames that environment for his drug problems as a teenager.

James Carville – He should do a reenactment of smashing himself in the head with an egg like he did when he went on Meet the Press following the 2004 election after his prediction that John Kerry would defeat George W. Bush did not come to fruition.

Last night he declared Romney a loser for spending the past few weeks in Iowa along with $10 million while not winning and/or only getting the same amount of support as 2008. He said this on CNN, the same network where John King showed a map of Santorum’s massive number of visits to the state compared to Romney’s handful of campaign stops.

Well Jimmy, Romney did win. As for receiving the same level of support as four years ago: 1) who cares? 2) in 2008, Romney staked the whole campaign on winning Iowa and then New Hampshire  and use that momentum to look “inevitable” in the following primaries. This time around his campaign is built on winning New Hampshire by a wide margin and using his large war chest to win Florida to capture the nomination. The win in Iowa last night just makes that much more likely.

MSNBC’s roundtable – For most of the night it featured the worst cast of political commentators I have ever seen in one place. Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz, Lawrence O’Donnell, and Rachel Maddow in the middle who was moderating since her show normally airs at that hour. All of them are liberal Democrats discussing a Republican caucus night. They just needed to add Bob Shrum* and Paul Begala** to make it the most clueless and unbalanced roundtable in the history of political television. There was some goateed bald guy with them, but it’s not worth looking up who he is because MSNBC’s rating had to be dismal last night as they are always.

Ron Paul – This was the guy I rooted for so it would send a message that the country needs to seriously rethink our entire economic and foreign policy.

It’s one thing to not win. It’s another to have a primetime speaking slot that was an incoherent mess inclusive of a currently enlisted soldier who spoke very briefly in the middle of Paul’s speech and admitted to having stars in his eyes because meeting Paul was like meeting a rock star.

My friend’s rebuttal to that is “It’s like he’s not a politician speaking off the cuff like that.” True. But this was a tragic missed opportunity because Paul could have began the most-watched speech of his life with the contemplative line that he’s already said before, “I want to use all my strength, to resist the notion I can run your lives, or run the economy, or run the world. I want to use that strength to repeal and reject that notion, and stand up and defend the principles of liberty.”

Followed by telling us how dire America’s situation is and presenting his philosophy (and himself) as the solution by restating his first line in different ways. “This is what I stand for. What the founders did when they limited the power of the federal government. What George Washington did when he refused to be king and stepped down after 2 terms. I want to give up power.”

And then tell the joke “Do you have any doubt that our current President [and the other candidates] would be king right now if they could? I’m the only candidate out there that does not want to be king.”

And he should’ve talked about the most recent NDAA and the bailouts by tying them together as examples of how government is out of control. They now have the ability to legally detain you indefinitely and legally use your money to give to companies and industries they want to.

And how it’s not just about cutting government spending; it’s also about reducing the federal government’s power over you.

And maybe end with “I want to stop the federal government from shutting down lemonade stands run by children who are pursuing their first entrepreneurial venture and now might become discouraged from becoming a job creator decades from now because of that experience.”

____________________

*I hate Player Hating, but when the time comes there will be posts about commentators who should be ignored to the point that it might be a good idea to read them and know confidently that the opposite is happening. Bob Shrum and Paul Begala are two of these commentators. Not because they are liberal; there will be conservatives listed that shouldn’t be listened to either. And I cannot recommend more highly people liberal commentators like Ezra Klein and Matt Taibbi.

But Shrum writes things that are ludicrously wrong. He’s Joe Crawford – the NBA ref that drives you nuts with how wrong he is.

There is a reason pundits claim he is cursed because he has been part of 8 (eight!) losing presidential candidacies.

** The best example of what a clown this guy is came in 2008.

There was this inane, but fun +/- indicator that CNN had their commentators use in real time to indicate who was scoring good or bad points during debates. On the right and left margin of the screens, CNN showed 6 charts – one each from the half dozen commentators who were watching the debate. Naturally the 3 conservatives would show McCain +12, -6 and Obama  +6, -8 by the end of the debate with the 3 liberals scoring similarly with the names reversed.

On the night of the VP debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, as the candidates were about to take the stage, Begala had “Palin +0, -2”. And this might have been before she shook Biden’s hand saying “Nice to meet you, can I call you, Joe?”

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