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Not just into a new year, but – zap! – suddenly we find ourselves catapulted into the turbulent Twilight Zone of the 2012 presidential election. On only the third day of the year, while most of us Americans were still groggy from New Year’s Eve parties, Iowa voted. Well… sort of.
The media’s breathless coverage of Iowa’s Republican caucuses offered a blizzard of statistics, but missed two crucial ones. First: 5.4%. That’s the percentage of Iowa’s eligible voters who ventured out to pick from the GOP’s rather unappetizing menu of Mitt, Rick, Ron, Newt, the Other Rick, and Michele. Second: zero. That’s the number of delegates that the Hawkeye Hullabaloo allocated to the candidates. You see, the 25 actual voting delegates that Iowa will send to the Republican presidential nominating convention this summer will be chosen in a separate, arcane series of meetings. The caucuses are just for show – a glorified straw poll.
But what a show it was! All six of the active contenders kept slipping on their own ugly records, lies, or slapstick misstatements. Mired in the muck of negativity and ultra-right-wing goofiness, this was a dispiriting Republican group.
In a December commentary, I noted that people have coined useful phrases to describe groups of animals – a gaggle of geese, for example, or a pride of lions. But what should we call this bunch? Readers responded with such juicy suggestions as a pandermonium of right wingers, an egoswarm, a klutz cluster, a cawcaphoney (with apologies to crows), a giggle of candidates, a flub of Republicans, a pod of nimrods… and, simply, an embarrassment.
Okay, even if you’re a pure-blooded Republican, having seen these six in action, don’t you have to ask yourself, in the words of the old Peggy Lee song, “Is that all there is?”
“Dead heat in Iowa; Perry will reassess,” Austin American Statesman, January 4, 2012.
"The issue isn't just jobs. Even slaves had jobs. The issue is wages." --Jim Hightower