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Ah, Iowa
In Dissent, Number One Hundred and Fifty-One
by Brian S. Wise
20 January 2004John Kerry, Winner?

The challenge: How to address Iowa by deadline, quite a few hours in advance.

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.

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