Here’s the problem:
By previous arrangement, columns published on Tuesdays and Fridays are due
to be delivered at roughly 6pm (and absolutely no later than 7pm) local time
the previous evening, meaning that by the time the results of the Iowa caucus
are known late Monday night, this column must have been written, edited and
electronically mailed to various editors and mailing list subscribers.
The challenge: Discuss what has happened in Iowa, employing some panache
and confidence, without actually knowing what has happened there.
One: Start with the system itself. Last week it was suggested the ferocious
pace of the Democratic campaign might compel a record number of people to
participate in the caucus; why, as many as one hundred thousand old white
people and suddenly-citizens could show up throughout the State to make their
voices heard! (Sixty-one thousand participated in 2000.) Wait,
one hundred thousand? Only one hundred thousand?
Sure. But look, even that depends on how one goes about having his
voice heard … someone can show up and decide not to vote at all, and if one
of the participants happens to be rooting for a candidate but standing in
a house where that man hasn’t garnered fifteen percent of the total house
vote, our participant can throw his support behind his second choice.
Keeping this in mind, the Kucinich campaign made it known to its Iowa supporters
(all twenty-seven of them) that if all else fails, it’s okay to turn their
votes over to Golden Boy John Edwards.
Beats the hell out of walking into a voting booth and pulling a lever, huh?
Hmm. If you’re a Democrat living in Colorado (a random State chosen
for this example, which doesn’t hold its primary until April 13th), how bothered
are you by the prospect of your party’s direction being dictated in no small
part by just a few thousand fellow Democrats in Iowa, many of whom may not
even end up voting for their first choice? And what if the nomination
is effectively sewn up by the end of the Nevada primary, what does that say
about your preference? Right. And now you see what’s wrong with
the current nominating process. Ah well, it’s broken but it’s ours.
Two: As has been the case, everything revolves around Howard Dean.
From this distance all that can be said with any certainty is that Nominee
Dean lost a lot of votes over the last two weeks, so many it may have ended
up costing him the caucus. It will end up that a large number of mature
people walked away from Governor Dean because he simply wasn’t acting like
a very serious man.
Once USA Today published the letter he had written to Bill Clinton in 1995
regarding Bosnia – “After long and careful thought, and after several years
of watching the gross atrocities committed by the Bosnian Serbs, I have reluctantly
concluded that the efforts of the United Nations and NATO in Bosnia are a
complete failure.” – it became harder and harder for the governor to intellectually
justify his stand against the Iraqi War. Only the most cockeyed partisan
suggests, even passively, that mass graves in Bosnia are patently unacceptable
while those in Iraq just aren’t worth considering.
More, if the Afghan War was justifiable because 3,000 people were slaughtered
here (as Dean has suggested), then those of us in opposition to the governor
are awaiting with breathless anticipation for his campaign to produce the
documents making known the total number of Americans dead in Bosnia, which
would explain his faith in our involvement there.
Three: It’s no coincidence John Kerry has risen as he has in the polls.
Things being as they are, “I wouldn’t have gone into Iraq” is a lot like
suggesting your wife can be a little pregnant; we’re there, we’re involved,
there’s no getting around it. Kerry has been much smarter about his
Iraqi discussions than Dean, saying in effect Saddam Hussein was something
we should have taken care of, that he was all for it, that one must support
and fund the troops while they’re engaged, but the follow through as orchestrated
by the administration has left a lot to be desired. It’s a stable,
easily defensible position.
John Kerry should win Iowa; not handily, but by enough of a margin to create
a fine two way race between himself and Governor Dean, a potential goldmine
for hack internet columnists like yours truly. And if I’m wrong, well,
blame the scheduling, not me.
Brian Wise is the lead columnist for IntellectualConservative.com.