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by Sean Keeler
Where is the like of Hubert Humphrey when the
Iowa Republican Party so desperately needs him?
The late Democratic U.S. senator and vice president
(1911-1978) came to mind because of the continuing
failure of just about any Iowa Republican —
save a couple — to protest how the evangelical
right controls the Iowa GOP. So tight is the
grip of the religious right in Iowa that it
has delusions it can determine who will be the
Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential
That delusion will continue at least until after
Jan. 4, 2012, the day after the Iowa GOP caucuses
give their blessings to whichever candidates
strike them as the most extreme on issues of
anti-abortion, immigration, waterboarding, homophobia
and the rest of the religious right’s agenda.
For a suspected closet moderate like Mitt Romney,
the only hope for a finish in the top three
rests upon (a) the right fielders dividing the
extremist vote and (b) an uncharacteristic turnout
of responsible GOP voters who could lift Romney
to the soaring heights of maybe 20 percent of
the vote — with only 80 percent of the caucus
goers against him.
Assuming the likely, a Romney third- or fourth-place
finish, then perhaps New Hampshire and other
states will dutifully reject the Iowa choice,
just as U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann was rejected
by non-Iowans after paying the Iowa GOP enough
to win the party’s Straw Poll in August.
Romney failing, only U.S. Rep. Ron Paul has
not surrendered to Iowa’s religious right. But
the press seems so dismissive of him that it
ignored his almost beating Bachmann last August.
But back to Humphrey.
He came to mind not as senator or vice president,
but as mayor of Minneapolis when he took on
the extremists in his party at the Democratic
Party’s 1948 national convention.
He challenged the racists in the party, calling
for the adoption of a civil rights plank in
the party’s platform.
Among the resonating lines from that speech
was this: “To those who say, ‘This civil rights
program is an infringement on states’ rights,’
I say this: the time has arrived in America
for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow
of states’ rights and walk forthrightly into
the bright sunshine of human rights!”
That sentiment so enraged many Southern Democrats
that the Mississippi delegation and half of
Alabama’s walked out. The so-called Dixiecrats
nominated their own candidate, Strom Thurmond
of South Carolina for President, joining the
GOP’s Gov. Thomas Dewey in opposition to a beleaguered
incumbent, President Harry Truman.
Truman won, thanks to support from minority
groups, labor and others energized by Humphrey’s
courage and the convention’s narrow adoption
of the minority plank that dared to call for
federal legislation against lynching, an end
to legal school segregation and an end to job
Humphrey dared to take on extremists in his
party in a display of political courage seen
too seldom in American politics.
Unfortunately, many Iowa Republicans have been
driven out of the party or opt for silence in
the face of the religious right.
The silence of Iowa Republicans who know better
is not only deafening, but prohibitive — barring
all but the far right candidates from a commanding
presence in the Iowa caucus process. The likes
of Romney and Jon Huntsman — along with other
GOP senators and governors who might qualify
for even the label of “sort of moderate” — are
conspicuous by their absence in Iowa.
Who can blame them, given how the Iowa religious
right has silenced opposition and made political
courage an even scarcer commodity?
One of the exceptions is a former Republican
state legislator, Jeff Angelo, who created Republicans
for Freedom, an advocacy group for conservatives
who support same-sex marriage. Angelo says he
was wrong when, as a legislator, he co-sponsored
a bill that would get a process under way for
a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex
Former Republican lieutenant governors Art Neu
and Joy Corning speak so much sense that they
are scorned by current GOP legislators and,
of course, the governor.
Small wonder, it is a joy to recall Humphrey
in 1948. CV
Herb Strentz is a retired administrator
and professor in the Drake School of Journalism
and Mass Communication and writes occasional
columns for Cityview.
by Sean Keeler
What did you expect? Cancun?
New York City in December? Sounds like a great
idea, until somebody hands you the check.
Iowa State fans still grumbling about being
selected for the Pinstripe Bowl have their angst
misplaced. This one isn’t on Cyclones athletic
director Jamie Pollard for “whiffing” on his
sales job to those Chamber of Commerce types
in the pastel blazers.
No, the idea of sending Cyclone Nation to the
Bronx (bring a coat) came from a higher power.
Think of it as a parting Christmas gift from
your old pal Dan Beebe, the former Big 12 commissioner.
Your major questions and concerns are perfectly
valid. Why are we playing at a cold-weather
site? Why are we playing outdoors, in late December?
Why are we playing in a region where we don’t
Why? Because Dan Beebe loves you, that’s why.
OK, so maybe he doesn’t. But he must have thought
New York City was a preferable alternative to
say, Shreveport. When you’re trying to slot
the No. 7 selection from a 10-team league, what
did you expect? Cancun?
On one hand, you’ve got to admit: The idea of
playing at Yankee Stadium has a romantic, Four
Horsemen-of-the-Apocalypse kind of vibe, as
long as those horsemen are named War, Pestilence,
Famine and Frostbite. It works better as a concept.
You’d love to watch it, but you’re not as crazy
about paying to sit through the darned thing.
And yet, for all that, it’s also winnable —
a favorable matchup between squads that, on
paper, could be almost mirror images. Like Iowa
State, Rutgers leads with its physical defense.
Like Iowa State, Rutgers has shuffled its quarterbacks
in search of the right combination. For what
it’s worth, the Cyclones and Scarlet Knights
faced one common opponent: Connecticut. Iowa
State beat the Huskies on the road; Rutgers
lost by 18.
Of course, there are more important things to
worry about in Story County — namely, getting
coach Paul Rhoads signed to a contract extension.
As of Monday morning, he was still waiting.
After two bowl appearances in his first three
seasons, it’s more than deserved; it’s overdue.
If Kansas State’s Bill Snyder is the Big 12
Coach of the Year, then Rhoads is no worse than
a close second, turning a meat-grinder of a
2011 schedule into a journey with more high
points than a Cheech and Chong caper.
Having built a reputation for serving up at
least one stunning, signature victory in each
of his first two seasons, Rhoads came up with
three in his third: a 44-41 thriller at home
versus Iowa; a 41-7 throttling of Texas Tech
in Lubbock, where the program had never won
before; and the capper, a 37-31 upset of then-No.
2 Oklahoma State, the moment that cemented his
legacy and, at the same time, doomed America
to a rematch of LSU and Alabama in the Bowl
Championship Series national title game.
The good news for Iowa State fans is that Rhoads
is a local guy and, by all accounts, happy.
Unlike his predecessor, he sees the Cyclones
as something more than a nice paycheck and a
stepping stone. It means something. It’s about
family. It’s about home.
But beating Nebraska at Nebraska, beating Texas
at Texas, and ruining Oklahoma State’s season
will get you noticed, and deservedly so. Last
winter, Rhoads was linked with the vacant Pittsburgh
job; this year, it’s Arizona State. Illinois
is badly in need of a coach with half a clue.
It seems as if half the Pac-12 is looking for
fresh bodies, and all could pay more than the
reported $1.1-million salary that Rhoads reportedly
takes in now.
If former Kansas coach Turner Gill was worth
roughly $2.1 million per year and Texas Tech’s
Tommy Tuberville makes $2.05 million, Rhoads’
contract seems like a bargain in comparison.
Although you get the feeling that he won’t be
a bargain for much longer. Regardless, Rhoads
is bound for the bright lights of Broadway,
and maybe it’s apropos. After all, what applies
to the Big Apple applies to Ames, too: If he
can make it there, he’ll make it anywhere. CV
Sean Keeler was a sports columnist at The
Des Moines Register from 2002-2011 and offers
columns for Cityview.. He can be reached at