Thursday, January 3, 2008
Iowa Caucuses 2008: Press Excited, Everyone Else Plays X-box
Every four years, a relatively few people trudge off to participate in a little political exercise called the Iowa Caucuses.
Based on estimates, Mike Huckabee emerged as the clear choice of slightly over 20,000 Iowa Republicans. Obama commanded the loyalty of a little over 50,000 Iowa Democrats.
Based on this tiny group of people, pundits will now spend the next week warning who is washed up and who can start planning celebrations.
Iowa is important to the people who live in Iowa.
Who else places any importance on Iowa?
Does anyone outside of political junkies care what happens in Iowa?
Well again, there's the press.
The press doesn't normally favor--or deign to travel--midwestern states. But they descended on Iowa.
They interviewed everybody. They interviewed anybody.
They interviewed ordinary farmers.
They interviewed those whose opinions were normally ignored.
They even interviewed each other.
For most weeks, the only news in Iowa was the news the press created.
They created their own news, their own scandals and their own press darlings. In 2008, the press darling was Mike Huckabee.
Having created a press darling, the press had to interview him. So Huckabee gave a press conference while hunting pheasants.
After the interview, Huckabee lost his "press darling" label with some members of the press who got a chance to observe Mike up close with a gun.
They also observed former press darling, John McCain, up close.
He assured them he was OK.
"Wait 'til next week," McCain exclaimed.
So the press is now reporting that McClain's the man next week in New Hampshire, where an almost equally-small amount of people will go to the polls.
During the run-up to the Iowa caucuses, the press dutifully filed their reports.
The voters listened to the candidates, as well as the press.
Iowans carefully made their decisions.
Iowans then made their way to the caucuses to vote.
Even though other, more important news held the attention of the rest of the country, the press insisted that the results in Iowa are important to more than Iowans, the candidates and the press.
The rest of the country anxiously awaited the results from Iowa.
Who would Iowa pick?
Who would be our next president?
Would the winner be as "unstoppable" after Iowa as they were before?
Four years ago in 2004, the press assured us that Howard Dean was "unstoppable".
Much of the press a few months ago assured us that Hillary Clinton was also "unstoppable".
Both proved to be "stoppable" in Iowa.
Huckabee and Obama join other Iowa winners.
Dick Gephardt won Iowa in 1988.
Another Iowa winner was Tom Harkin in 1992. Hillary Clinton finished 2nd in 2008, but husband, Bill, finnished 6th in 1992.
Another famous winner in Iowa was "uncommited".
"Uncommitted" was the choice of Iowa Democrats in both 1972 and 1976.
In 1980, G.H.W. Bush won the Republican caucuses.
The guy standing beside Bush on the left in the photo above finished second in Iowa that year.
The press responded to the news and winners in Iowa as usual.
The rest of the country responded to the news of Huckabee and Obama winning in Iowa as usual, also.
Which is to say, differently than the press.
The press will insist that the results of Iowa are vitally important.
Iowa caucus results are important.
To the press.
Otherwise, why would they be there?
They wouldn't waste our time, would they?
Iowa will clean up after the candidates and the press are gone. Life will return to normal.
Iowa 2008: the candidates and press cared.
Everyone else cared about more important things.
Like playing X-box or watching TV.
* Wizard of Odds;
* grinning planet;
* scottish parliment;
Death by 1000 Papercuts Front Page.