Monday, October 20, 2014


Guest Commentary

Iowa’s bumper crops: gospel, farce and folly

7/31/2013

Yes, the Iowa precinct caucuses for the 2016 presidential election are still some 30 months away — January 2016.

But the zaniness of the caucus process and zealotry of the religious/political right in Iowa is in full flower — with all the quirks and folly that made the 2012 caucuses such a farce.

It’s so much fun for those who see religion as nuttiness and politics as hypocrisy.

For the rest of us, the events of recent days are harbingers of the pain and angst to be suffered in the next two years or more.

It was way too soon to return to caucus banality and babble, but here we are. Despite one’s efforts to repress it, the 2012 process in Iowa was a time U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann was hailed as a front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, a time when Mitt Romney won the Iowa caucuses and two weeks later Rick Santorum won, a time when U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley said Herman Cain, Bachmann and anyone else willing to fork over thousands of dollars to the Iowa GOP was fit to be President of the United States, a time when — well, let’s repress the rest of the folly.

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May as well, because we have a jump start on the GOP follies for 2016, all in the name of Iowans proudly contemplating the months when Iowa is the “center of the political universe.” That’s the notion, even though most rational people — the press excluded, of course — think giving Iowa such status is either nonsense or alarming or both.

And for good reason.

Consider:

• As a preview, David Young, a former Grassley aide, is seeking the Iowa GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2014, given the retirement of Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. Young says being a U.S. senator gives him still another forum to share “the good news of Jesus Christ.” One person he would share the news with, he says, is U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D, N.Y.), presumably because Schumer is Jewish. Perhaps back-pedaling on that, the Young camp says, what he meant was sharing the “good news of Jesus Christ” as a way to develop friendship and collegiality in the Senate, which lord knows — or the Lord knows — we need. The Young “good news” candidacy is right up the alley of David Lane, an evangelical operative who wants to march an army behind Christian conservative candidates.

• Cue the organist for “Onward Christian Soldiers!” Lane wants to rally millions of true believers to put their votes where their faith is in order to “re-establish a Christian culture” across the nation. The Des Moines Register reported he has been trying to rally the folks in Iowa for about six years, mostly behind the scenes, but now has come out of the closet to be even more effective.

• Meantime, Sen. Grassley — sticking to his 2012 theme of anyone who pays off the Iowa GOP can be president — says there is no front runner for the 2016 nomination, although Santorum might have an edge in the caucuses, dominated as they are by the religious right.

• For his part, U.S. Rep. Steve King then weighs in with comments that most illegal immigrants are drug “traffickers.”

• Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad contributes to the nonsense with his own SUV version of the biblical chariot of fire, not having yet learned that trying to cover up mistakes usually creates more of a fuss than the mistake in the first place. So the contrived alibis are way out ahead of contrition regarding the reckless driving of the guv’s Iowa No. 1 wheels.

Branstad likely will seek his fourth re-election in 2014. If he wins, he’ll guarantee that visiting GOP candidates curry favor from the religious right and won’t be accountable for reckless driving or reckless rhetoric — remember how Texas Gov. Rick Perry just about likened President Obama to the Antichrist in his Iowa ads? No need to dig out such repressed memories; a harvest of even more folly awaits. CV

Herb Strentz is a retired administrator and professor in the Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication and writes occasional columns for Cityview.

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