Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Iowa Caucus

Does anyone really understand the Iowa caucus? An article at Truthdig sort of explains the arcane process, but I'm not sure that I fully understand it. No one cared at all about the Iowa caucus until 1972 when someone came up with the idea of moving the caucus ahead of the New Hampshire primary, making it the first test in the process of picking a president.

It's primarily a public relations stunt, a way for Iowa to say look at me, pay attention to my problems. This year, the Iowa caucus is almost meaningless. Between it and the New Hampshire primary, we should begin to separate the wheat from the chaff, the contenders from the pretenders, but the media and the party establishments are already doing that.

The big questions that will be answered early on (in Iowa and New Hampshire) are: 1.) Can Edwards do well enough to insinuate himself into the media's Obama/Hillary dynamic?, and 2.) Which is stronger, Romney's money or Huckabee's God?

I'm hoping that Edwards can make it a three-way race. I like what I'm hearing of his populist rhetoric. So far, he's the candidate I'm leaning toward. In a more perfect world where he might be taken seriously, I might be tempted to cast a vote for Chris Dodd just for last month's Senate filibuster. Clinton and Obama seem too centrist for my taste, but I would vote for either of them in a second over any of the Repub candidates. Most of them, but especially the Huckster, scare me. Romney, I suspect, would say anything or change any position to get elected. I certainly wouldn't buy a used car from him. Meanwhile, Guiliani is busy running for president of 9/11.

Update: The NY Times The Board blog has more on the inner workings of the anachronistic Iowa caucus.

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