Less than a week from the caucus’ in Iowa and despite the holiday lull, things are popping. This may be the most cliched, least informative, least informed piece on Iowa I have yet to read/see. (It’s an NBC video.) Clearly, “the old rules” are not at play in Iowa (Are they even really the old rules?), and yet everyone is trying to craft a narrative using them. People are also trying to give it more import than is really there. From Politico:
No matter who wins, Iowa will reshape the Republican presidential race one week from today
“Reshape” is a strong word when there is no winner take all this early. A leader “may” be established, but as Michael Barone said in the WSJ yesterday:
…the Iowa Republican caucuses have a poor record in choosing their party’s nominees.
One need look no further than Michael Shears’ observations of the topics that are moving the Iowa crowds to know that things in Iowa are a little different. According to Shear these are the hot buttons:
- The Size of Government
- Balanced Budget
Pretty interesting that – note that the economy is only indirectly at play (size of government and balanced budget) as well as religion (abortion). And despite some overt religious discussion, things are subliminal on the front lines. Put a book mark here, back in a second.
The real evidence that this thing is shaping up quite differently than anyone expected is that Mitt Romney is well poised to win Iowa, but for all the reasons just cited that is no reason to get cocky. The proportional delegate counts of the early states will keep this campaign alive much longer than a Romney 1-2/Iowa-New Hampshire punch would have previously allowed. Even with Romney looking to perform better than expected early, Florida remains the hinge on which things will turn. There is good news out of there:
Right now, it seems that only Romney is running here…
But early activity is not always the final indicator. Candidates still standing by the time we get there will have built a lot of momentum.
Then there is the fact that some have kicked the game up to a whole new level. You know, a court decision in the Bush v Gore thing while necessary, thanks to Gore’s endless litigation, left a permanent mark on the W Bush presidency and I think future historians and sociologists will reveal lead to a weakness in our government that we have yet to recover from.
Anyway, back to the subliminal religion stuff. It is NOT so subliminal with the surrogates and ABR crowd out there. While the ABR crowd is smaller than we may imagine, they are vocal, and by raising religion they can play on misunderstandings and prejudices. Some people still connect Mormonism and polygamy, so the mention of Mormonism, now matter how “gently” or “newsy” can produce concern – and the people writing this stuff darn well know it. And somehow those poker tells just keep showing up.
But with Romney apparently solidifying his frontrunner status, the press is starting to turn to the general. PBS is telling us that Obama’s “mojo” is back. That dear friends is tantamount to a declaration of war. Despite his abysmal performance in office and nearly bankrupting the nation, the lefties of the MSM are not going down without a fight. But they have a problem. They want to tell us the Tea Party is a revolt inside the Republican camp, but the #Occupy movement is now calling all elections “rigged.” Although their claims as to how the “rigging” occurs strikes me as a laundry list of Democrat causes. (Voter ID, etc.)
So, will religion play in the general? I think he primary is demonstrating that it will not play on the front lines. They are going to play on #Occupy sentiment (I hope without the utter wackiness) and paint us all as “the real class warriors.“ But look for the subliminal and the surrogates. The LATimes has been beating the Mormon drum indirectly for months now, but this latest broadside is fascinating:
Except for Jacob Fullmer, a 27-year-old staffer from a small town in Idaho, Mitt Romney headquarters here was empty on Christmas Eve. A former Blockbuster, with angled anti-theft mirrors lining the ceiling perimeter, the place had the feel of a hastily evacuated showroom. Staffers and volunteers had fled home for a short respite before this week’s brutal lead-up to the first voting of the 2012 presidential campaign on Jan. 3.
Fullmer, a paid field staffer who works 15-hour days and says the thing he loves most about Des Moines is his bed, was trying to stay upbeat.
“Honestly, it’s been hitting my dad and mom and me more heavily this week, because even though we emotionally prepared for it, it’s gonna be different for them,” said Fullmer, whose parents own a Sears franchise in Rexburg, Idaho. “For Christmas Day, I kept telling myself I would work to take my mind off it, but I am just going to shut down.”
Political campaigns are magnets for idealistic young adults still unburdened by spouses, children and mortgages. They come from all over the country to Iowa, which briefly becomes the center of the political universe. They come to serve a higher purpose, to invest in their professional futures. But the hours are long, the pay is low and the feelings of isolation can be intense, particularly during the holidays. Many, like Fullmer, have given up apartments and have no permanent addresses. He is staying with a member of the local Mormon church.
Analyze that carefully, it hits all the expected themes. Romney is portrayed as the corporate Scrooge, driving his employees to work, even on Christmas, keeping them away from their families – just like on a Mormon mission.
That’s how the Mormon card will be played, should Romney emerge as the nominee. It’s “weird,” as we were promised, but it is a different and more subtle “weird” than we might expect. The emphasis on the strange things about Mormons is not their beliefs, but their industriousness – their drive to succeed. We have said all along that for mainstream Christians to allow attacks on Mormonism to remain unchallenged was to permit attacks on our own faith. This approach broadens that – it is not longer a attack on faith, but an attack on the most basic of American values – working hard and getting ahead.
That a significant portion of our population considers that “weird” may be the most troubling aspect of this entire campaign.