1. Aren’t we all glad that caucus nonsense is over for a while? That has to be the dumbest way to conduct democracy that could ever be conceived. Geeze.
2. Despite what you are hearing from silly pundits on TV and from Bernie Sanders backers, Clinton’s win in Iowa (yep, she won, although you wouldn’t know it from the coverage), as narrow as it was, represents a pretty eye-opening defeat for Sanders (for those whose eyes will open). Iowa was the perfect state for him to win, given that the Democratic electorate in Iowa is, next to maybe Vermont, the most liberal in the country (one survey found that 43% identified as socialists, compared to only 38% who identified as capitalists).
Plus, let’s not forget, Sanders himself said that if the turnout was high, he would win. It was and he didn’t. After New Hampshire, where all Clinton has to do is narrow Bernie’s lead a little bit, she has a distinct advantage.
By the way, this is how Fox presented Sanders this morning:
It’s only the beginning. If Sanders were to win the nomination, he would be a sought-after-Stalinist.
3. It’s no real surprise that Cruz won in a state dominated by Bible-thumping reactionaries, since he is a Bible-thumping reactionary himself. He began his victory speech with,
God bless the great state of Iowa. Let me first of all say — to God be the glory.
Let me first of all say—to God be the glory when Cruz and his faithful followers figure out that he will nevva evva be president of the United States.
4. Donald Trump’s lack of essential on-the-ground organization in Iowa and his pretending he knew what evangelical Christianity was hurt him. Those vulnerabilities won’t matter as much going forward, if he is willing to spend his own money to do some real campaigning, instead of relying on big rallies and counting on cable outlets to give him free air time. And, yes, I am hoping he stays in the race until the bitter end.
5. Now on to Marco Rubio’s third-place finish, which he celebrated like he had just won a gold medal in a hot dog slam fest. Howard Fineman, Global Editorial Director at HuffPo and an MSNBC talking head, wrote some things so remarkably inaccurate about Iowa Republicans and Rubio that I need to make a few remarkably accurate comments about his claims. He said:
…the plain-spoken and sensible voters of the state also plucked a new star out of the crowd: the comparatively moderate and photogenic young senator from Florida, Marco Rubio. Cruz showed in Iowa that he could take a punch from Donald Trump. And Rubio showed that he could sneak up on the other two with charisma, charm and a sense of optimism.
Let me start with the easy part. Republican voters in Iowa might be plain-spoken, but they ain’t sensible. Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Pat Robertson have won the Iowa Republican caucuses. So, please. Look in the dictionary for the definition of sensible.
But perhaps it is Fineman’s description of Rubio as “comparatively moderate” that offends the most. Moderate compared to whom? Rubio himself rejected a similar description on television this morning. He said he is as conservative as anyone in the race. And he’s sort of right about that in the sense that he is at least as conservative as anyone in the race. But in some important ways he is much more conservative. Just because Beltway insiders have somehow placed him into the moderate lane this primary season (you hear that a lot on cable news) doesn’t make it so. He is as radical a Republican as you are ever to meet.
Two examples among many (I omit his weird and harmful economic and tax ideas): Rubio turned his back on his own immigration reform bill after getting criticized by the Rush Limbaughs and Ann Coulters of the world. He not only turned his back on humane reforms necessary to help his party’s national chances, but he turned his back on himself! That ain’t easy, people. But that’s not all. As Republican Lindsay Graham pointed out this morning, not only does radically right-wing Ted Cruz’s position on abortion outlaw any and all of them, but Rubio is just like him:
“Marco has no exception for rape and incest. I think it’s going to be very hard to grow the party among women if you’re gonna tell young women, ‘If you get raped, you’re gotta carry the child of the rapist.’”
If Marco Rubio’s anti-immigrant stance and his have-your-rapist’s-baby government mandate qualifies him as a “comparatively moderate” Republican these days, then the party is, as I suspect, irredeemable. And maybe contemporary journalism is too, if someone like the respected Howard Fineman can be so wrong about something so easy.
Finally, about Rubio’s incessant godspeak. During his weird non-victory speech last night, he said, “I want to thank an all powerful and mighty God for the chance that he has given us to be a part of this endeavor here in Iowa.” And then later, “I thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ and I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to come this far with each of you.” Apparently after hoisting Ted Cruz into first place last night, the “all powerful and mighty” God’s arms were too tired to lift Marco higher than third.
Or, maybe the Almighty had nothing to do with any of it.
[photo credit: screenshot from TV using TEC’s special God-detecting filter]