As I wrote in my book on the ‘96 presidential campaign, Campaign America '96: The View From the Couch, the quadrennial election cycle is a WPA project for the upper end of intellectual workers: TV in all its forms, printers, newspapers, and their attendant personnel, all profit from the cash SuperPacs and the candidates lavish on the local media of various primary states, as well as the millions that will be spent on the national election itself. So who would want to put a stop to it? Certainly not the chattering classes, which gain so much from it. But Iowa does strain one’s credulity as being necessary to the political process.
Who cares about what the hundred thousand or so Iowans think about the candidates in question: in the case of 2012, the sorry group of Republicans vying for the nomination?
I’m certainly not the first or last to raise that question; this year it has already been batted around quite a bit. But it has provided a lot of fodder for discussion during the dull period between Christmas, New Year’s, and, what, Valentine’s Day? Look at Romney, who gets the same number of votes as he did in 2008 when he lost to the formerly obese former Governor of Arkansas, now Fox News commentator, Mike Huckabee. Romney, the 25 percenter. Same as Rick Santorum, more or less, the pol who will protect us all from bestiality, though he’s the Senator who lost his last race in the great state of Pennsylvania by over 15 percent. And Ron Paul, who is hardly a Republican, though he votes with its caucus, since he is so much a Libertarian, of the old school sort, crazy as a loon, who somehow still lures the most gullible young, with his promises of legal drugs and no war.
Thus far, Iowa has shown us nothing has changed; the only thing all the attention lavished accomplished was the jettisoning of Michele Bachmann, the native-born Iowan who now brings so much pride and honor to the state of Minnesota. Rick Perry (aka Governor Ferry) now pledges to continue to stumble on, providing low comedy and high jinks wherever he goes.
But, given the general uselessness of Iowa, a place where, when Chris Matthews asked where he was on his own MSNBC Hardball show and was told Des Moines – he indicated what he had meant was where, actually, was Des Moines located in the state and when he was told, somewhat in the middle, he offered up the excuse that he had flown into an airport and who would know, etc. - the meaning of flyover states came, once again, sharply into focus. Yet, Iowa did play a most critical role in recent American presidential history. I haven’t heard anyone mention it, though, doubtless, someone, somewhere, has. Certainly, when it comes to the GOP, Iowa is an empty hole, sound and fury signifying not much at all. But, when it comes to Democrats, Iowa changed history in 2008.
Iowa proved one thing: white people (aka Iowa) would vote for Barack Hussein Obama. That was its signal service to the commonwealth in 2008. And after Obama won Iowa (amassing nearly 100,000 votes in the primary), the red sea of racism was temporarily separated and the chosen people rushed through and managed to elect Obama to the presidency. I guess that’s enough reason for the east coast media to continue to dump so much money on Iowa and Iowans every four years. They’re owed.