Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Weirdness on MLK Day, GOP Super Pacs Like Bernie, a Brief History of Iowa and New Hampshire, and When It's Really Important

So, as we hurtle toward the Iowa caucus process and New Hampshire primary things have taken a decidedly weird bent. How else can you describe it when Donald Trump addresses the students of Liberty University in commemoration of Martin Luther King Day? Besides another rambling, repetitive, speech, one which illustrated his complete lack of familiarity with the bible, the ever present social media butterfly, El Donald, tweeted that if elected, he would be great for, the blacks.

As Jerry Falwell, the younger, was lavishly praising Brother Trump--while not explicitly endorsing him, because that's against school policy--members of the British parliament were debating on whether to even let the guy into their country. They decided they would, but only after calling him things such as, a buffoon, an idiot, a xenophobe, and flat out crazy. This is from the elected leadership of a nation which, other than perhaps Canada, is our closest ally in the world.

Word is also spreading Ted Cruz's director of communications will be, "deeply disappointed," if Sarah Palin throws her support to Trump. It's unclear at this time exactly how many votes her endorsement would swing to whoever she eventually supports. But, given Governor Palin's success as a national candidate, Fox News contributor, and television personality, a figure in the low three digits is a distinct possibility.

Meanwhile there are reports the GOP super pacs know exactly who they want to spend their cash against. Several of them went out of their way to talk about how great Bernie Sanders was in the latest democratic debate. Most were kind enough to point out he would be a more preferable candidate to a nation ready for change than Hillary Clinton. Among the sudden converts to Senator Sanders included the super pac controlled by the eminent progressive, Karl Rove. As many will remember Mr. Rove was last seen on Fox News a little less than four years ago. Minutes after the network declared Barack Obama would win Ohio and a second term he began ranting wildly that his figures showed otherwise and Mitt Romney would become president after carrying the state.

Yes, these are strange times, not that they haven't been in the past.

As the frenzy about the results in Iowa and New Hampshire builds to a crescendo, perhaps it is time to look at a little history when it comes to these two early bell weather states.

In Iowa things have been a bit muddled over the years. In fact, if you throw out sitting republican presidents who ran unopposed, or nearly so in the years, 1984, 1992, and 2004, the eventual republican nominee has won in Iowa only twice since 1980.

Bob Dole took the state in 1996, then got his ass kicked by Bill Clinton that November. Four years later, George W. Bush won a few months prior to his minions stealing the White House from Al Gore.

In 1980 GW's old man, George H.W. Bush beat a guy named Ronald Reagan, who ended up being a two term president and conservative saint. Bush didn't do so well in 1988, when he would actually win the presidency. Bob Dole won Iowa that year and the future one term president placed 3rd. In 2008, Mike Huckabee came out ahead with 34% and the eventual nominee, John McCain placed a dismal 4th with 13%.  Then four years ago, Rick Santorum stunned favorite Mitt Romney and put into motion a grueling process which saw an almost weekly tea party infatuation with some other shop worn retread, or abject loser. After the dust settled Romney finally won the nomination, but despite Rove's ghostly numbers, lost the general election.

Up in New Hampshire, where people actually go to the polls, rather than a local gym, or some home owned by a guy named Walt, things are a little more indicative of how they will end up, but not by much. Mitt won in New Hampshire during the 2012 primary and John McCain won it in 2008. Actually, McCain first won there in 2000, but G.W. Bush ended up being the nominee. In 1996, Pat Buchanan knocked off Bob Dole. That day was the closest the Nazi apologist ever came to sniffing the fertilizer on the White House lawn. Both G.H.W Bush and Reagan won during the years they first hit the west wing.

And there we have it. As ol' Yogi said, it ain't over 'til it's over. For the winners in both places that has usually been the case. Just ask cranks like Mike Huckabee and Pat Buchanan.

Let's face it, to date, the current ghastly political circus has been media driven. At this point even the poll numbers seem a tad dubious. The suspicion is they're more reflective of the free coverage granted to loons like Trump, rather than what the vast majority of the electorate--you know, people who aren't glued to cable news networks--actually think. Right now, for the talking heads desperately in search of ratings, not to mention relevance, Iowa and New Hampshire have become the focus of their hysteria--at least until the next tweet, or phone call from Big Don.

Indeed. Welcome to the twisted world of American politics in the 21st century. It's only important if the media says it is and it's only REALLY important if the media goes absolutely ape shit--like they are now.

Ladies and gentlemen, the bar is this way.


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