Iowa Knows Politics The Way Indiana Knows Basketball, Very Well Ty
THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST, OR TIED FOR SECOND
THREE TICKETS TO PARADISE FROM THE BIBLE BELT
THE VIEW FROM THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, MON
By JOHN McCARTHY/Virgin Islands Free Press
“How stupid are the people of Iowa?” Donald Trump asked in November.
“We’ll find out on Monday,” Stephen Colbert deadpanned on Friday.
Trump was referring to what he called Ben Carson’s “pathological temper” when he uttered those words on Nov. 12, 2015. He added: “How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap.”
Before Thanksgiving, the Atlas of Atlantic City didn’t buy Carson’s Detroit street cred story and more importantly didn’t like that the neurosurgeon was leading the polls in Iowa by mid-November and was attacking “his story” of who he claimed to be.
What a difference two and a half months make! On Monday, prior to finishing a distant fourth in the Iowa Caucuses, Carson made it known that he would be skipping New Hampshire and South Carolina to return home to Florida for a “fresh set of clothes” and to attend the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.
When the news was announced on CNN last night as the hand-written ballots were beginning to be counted by hand, Anderson Cooper said that he had been wearing the same suit for four days and wondered rhetorically out loud if Carson had ever heard of FedEx? Apparently, the Vanderbilts of New York get their fresh suits from New York mailed to them by FedEx. Everyone knows that. Or do they?
In the heart of the Bible Belt, where Scripture is King, they say that there are three tickets out of Iowa. In this case, there were two tickets to paradise, as it were, on the Democratic side. The first class ticket went to Secretary Hillary Clinton, but a business-class ticket was extended to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders as well and a one-way ticket was given as a parting gift to former Delaware Governor Martin O’Malley.
Clinton declared victory last night by saying she was “relieved” that Iowa voters had finally come to their senses by giving her 50 percent of the vote and a statistical dead heat beat-down of Sanders this year after dealing her a third-place finish (behind John Edwards and Barack Obama) in 2008.
Sanders also thanked Iowans for his 50 percent of the vote. (But is it really possible to elect somebody president who has the initials that Bernie Sanders has? Tweet that, I dare you.)
And O’Malley gracefully exited the political stage with zero percent of the Des Moines vote. (If you listened to his voice on the campaign trial he sounded a lot like a young FDR – and after four years of whoever’s next as President, we might need one – the former Mayor of Baltimore who was fictionalized as being Italian on the TV series “The Wire,” has a bright political future despite being hastily shucked by Iowa voters.)
“The results tonight are the closest in Iowa Democratic caucus history,” said Iowa Democratic Party Chair Andy McGuire. “Hillary Clinton has been awarded 699.57 state delegate equivalents, Bernie Sanders has been awarded 695.49 state delegate equivalents, Martin O’Malley has been awarded 7.68 state delegate equivalents and uncommitted has been awarded .46 state delegate equivalents.”
Once the results had been announced last night, Chris Hayes, the MSNBC host of “All In With Chris Hayes” proudly announced that Sanders became the first Jewish-American to garner presidential delegates. Once spoken, co-host Chris Matthews quickly added: “Well, he (Sanders) hasn’t campaigned that way.” Whatever all that means, I guess that’s why they’re the pundits and I am exiled in Paradise.
“God bless the great state of Iowa,” Texas Senator Ted Cruz said as he took the stage to announce victory. “Let me first say to God be the glory.”
Since 1972 when the Iowa caucuses became the first electoral event of the American political calendar, the Hawkeye state has successfully picked the nominee who would be the Republican party’s nominee 50 percent of the time. On the Democratic side, the Iowa caucuses have picked the eventual nominee 43 percent of the time.
“We finally found a conservative who can win,” said conservative commentator Amanda Carpenter on CNN. But if the G.O.P. uses this election to distill itself into its purest theoretical essence by rooting out who is a “real” Republican and who is a RINO (Republican In Name Only) — it could be the end of the Grand Old Party as we know it.
Cruz said the average contributor made a $67 donation to his campaign — Sanders said his average contribution was $27 — meaning that the difference between a Republican and a Democrat in modern-day America is $40, with conservatives having more disposable income because they are entrepreneurs who make their own deductions from pay according to our self-reporting IRS tax system.
Cruz said in his victory speech that he had won because “the media will not choose the next president, the Washington establishment will not choose the next president and the lobbyists will not choose the next president,” to wild applause to those in the crowd. Men in the background behind the candidate were crying — and for good reason.
On CNN prior to the speech, Michael Smerconish said: “The Republican party is in open revolt – base against the establishment.” And the conventional establishment wisdom is that a Trump candidacy could solidify the gains the G.O.P. has made in the House and Senate under President Obama – a Cruz candidacy could end those gains.
Perhaps befitting of the place, Florida Senator Marco Rubio finished third and was judged to be the winner by the mainstream media. Billionaire Donald Trump finished second, but was judged to have lost the event because he had set expectations too high. Princeton grad Cruz was the actual winner, but when he loses in New Hampshire or South Carolina will he praise God as lustily?
So as it should be in the Bible Belt, the last shall be first at some point in this coming political season. The question is, if the polling could be so far off in Iowa, just how big is Trump’s lead in New Hampshire?
In a state where the ethos of Ethanol is Gospel, the question going in was how could Trump win a state famous for shaking hands when he’s a germophobe who self-inoculates by having a Sharpie marker and campaign sign at the ready as prophylactics to discourage well-wishers from trying to press his billion-dollar flesh. The answer of course was: good enough for second place.
“I have to start by saying I absolutely love the people of Iowa,” Trump said in a gracious concession speech, adding that he found the people of Iowa to be “special.”
“I think I might come back here and buy a farm,” Trump said.
After building himself up as the person leading in every state in every poll since the “Summer of Trump,” an uber-candidate who couldn’t lose and wasn’t a loser – one now has to ask if Trump’s candidacy hasn’t already bought the farm – only we don’t just don’t know it yet.
After all, maybe we’re “special” too?
John McCarthy is a nationally-syndicated columnist for The Moderate Voice.