Where Steve goes out on a limb with a prediction

I hate being asked to make predictions because, sadly, I'm no better at them than most people whose job does not involve following politics for a living.  Nonetheless, surfing the blogosphere tonight, I said to myself (a thought that's been building), you know, I just think McCain may be the Republican nominee.  Sure, I'm probably wrong, but in case I'm right, I've got evidence that I actually predicted it before any votes were cast.  Why McCain?  Basically, because he's the only Republican who is not deeply flawed and at some point even some of those Republicans who hate him because he has his own mind 10-15% of the time will get over the fact and vote for him. 


Why the Iowa Caucus is un-democratic and un-American

Well, I'm back and hopefully refreshed from a nice Christmas vacation and ready to start blogging again.  And alas, the Iowa Caucus is right on top of us.  I've written before about just how amazingly stupid it is that this one unrepresentative state with a crazy process has so much influence (and this year, seemingly more influence than ever), but Slate has a double-bill today from Christopher Hitchens and Jeff Greenfield that totally slams the Caucus.  First Greenfield:

Iowa's vaunted precinct caucuses?especially those of the Democratic
Party?violate some of the most elemental values of a vibrant and open
political process. As far as a mechanism for selecting a president is
concerned, you might end up with Iowa's model if you set out to design
a system that discouraged participation and violated basic democratic

By nature, a caucus suppresses turnout. If you can't show up at 7 p.m.,
you don't participate; there's no absentee ballot and no early voting
because the fiction is that at a caucus, you're supposed to deliberate.
So, if you work the nightshift?if you're a cop, a firefighter, an
emergency room nurse, a waitress?and you can't change your hours,
you're shut out. Beyond that, the Democratic Party's caucus method
requires not 10 to 15 minutes at a polling place, but two or three
hours in a school lunchroom or library. This is why turnout?measured by
eligible voters?ran under 6 percent in 2000 (the last time both parties
held contests)…

 When you show up at a Democratic caucus, you and your fellow
participants divide up into different corners of a room, based on who
you are for. You don't submit a secret ballot; you stand up to be
publicly counted. What if you're in a union and want to pick someone
your union hasn't endorsed, and your shop steward is there, watching
you from across the room? Or the person who holds your mortgage? Or
your spouse? Tough. “It is free, it is open, and you are there of your
own volition,” says Carrie Giddins, the Iowa Democratic Party's
director of communications. But of course, you are also in a polling
place on election day of your own volition?and most free societies
think that it's a good idea to let voters keep their choices to

Then there's the missing principle of “one person,
one vote.” …

What this means, in effect, is that beyond a certain point, it doesn't
matter if your candidate can turn out 200 or 10,000 participants in a
particular precinct, because that precinct has only so much
delegate-purchasing power. It matters not just how many participants a
candidate can turn out, but whether he can turn them out all over the
place. A candidate who won a lot of the precincts narrowly would wind
up winning a bigger portion of the delegates than a rival who piled up
votes in one corner of Iowa?even if that corner yielded a higher
overall number of supporters. It's all the disproportional
representation of the Electoral College, in miniature. And that was the
price for forming the Union, not a guide for running elections…

Hitchens' column excels at taking the media to task for the extraordinarly excessive coverage.  The simple fact is the riciculous beast that is the Iowa caucus is entirely a creation of the media.  If they reported it for what it is– a poorly attended, un-democratic, quasi-election in a small, unrepresetantive state, the candidates would not move their families to Iowa:

It's also that campaign aides are showing up at Iowan homes “with DVD's
that [explain]  how the caucuses work.” Nobody needs a DVD to
understand one-person-one-vote, a level playing field, and a secret
ballot. The DVD and the other gifts and goodies (Sen. Barack Obama is
promising free baby-sitting on Thursday) are required precisely because
none of those conditions applies in Iowa. In a genuine democratic
process, these Tammany tactics would long ago have been declared
illegal. But this is not a democratic process, and besides, as my old
friend Michael Kinsley used to say about Washington, the scandal is
never about what's illegal. It's about what's legal….

Now, something as absurd and counterdemocratic as this can be so
only if the media say it is so, and every four years for as long as I
can remember, the profession has been promising to swear off the bottle
and stop treating the Iowa caucuses as if they were a primary, let
alone an election. Credit Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post for being the first writer this year to try to hold his fellow journalists to that pledge:

that massive media boost, prevailing in Iowa would be seen for what it
is: an important first victory that amounts to scoring a run in the top
of the first inning…

It's only when you read an honest reporter like Dan Balz that you
appreciate the depth and extent of the fraud that is being practiced on
us all. “In a primary,” as he put it,
“voters quietly fill out their ballots and leave. In the caucuses, they
are required to come and stay for several hours, and there are no
secret ballots. In the presence of friends, neighbors and occasionally
strangers, Iowa Democrats vote with their feet, by raising their hands
and moving to different parts of the room to signify their support for
one candidate or another. ? [F]or Democrats, it is not a one-person,
one-vote system. ? Inducements are allowed; bribes are not.” One has to
love that last sentence.

And the last word to Greenfield:

The process might be a good way for Iowa to pick its party convention
delegates, though I frankly doubt even that. It is an absolutely
terrible way in which to select candidates for the presidency, and it
makes the United States look and feel like a banana republic both at
home and overseas.

%d bloggers like this: