Iowa’s done, and presidential field still lousy | AspenTimes.com

Iowa’s done, and presidential field still lousy

John Colson

Well, I certainly can’t say I told you so, but then neither can anyone else.

The 2008 Iowa caucuses are history, and a bizarre bit of history it is.

Meanwhile, here in Colorado, we’ve got a perfect political storm approaching in the form of complete uncertainty about how we’re even going to vote, much less who the hell we’re going to vote for, after Republican Mike Coffman decertified most of the machines used to count ballots around the state.

We’re just lucky Aspen is not holding a city council election this year. I don’t think we could handle the synaptic overload of worrying about who’s going to steer our little Sodom on the Mountain into the coming decade while also worrying about whether we’ll be voting on paper ballots, by mail or at all.

But, first off, who’d have ever thunk it ” that a black man with a name strangely close to that of the world’s best-known terrorist would win among Democrats in a state that is overwhelmingly white, conservative and boasts a huge population of evangelical Christians? Perhaps we’d all better rethink the standard image of Iowa as little more than cornfields, corny roadside attractions and cornfed hicks with a political chip on their collective shoulders.

What didn’t surprise me is that Hillary Clinton came in third. Some of the talking heads on the Internet and cable stations are already saying the Clinton era is over, and I think they’re right. She may be tough as nails and capable of handling anything Osama bin Laden, Vlad “The Retrencher” Putin or any other of our international opponents can throw at her, but she doesn’t understand the essential problems facing the USA domestically.

Besides, what we don’t need is another dynastic turn of the political cycle. The Bush years, if they have done nothing else, have shown us that.

And with John Edwards hanging in there in second place again, just as he did in 2004, the race among Democrats could still be interesting. I like what Edwards has to say about the need to cut the legs out from under the corporate power structure that runs this country. Of course, like many, I harbor doubts about his sincerity in those attacks, given the fact that he’s a fat-cat lawyer himself, regardless of his blue-collar roots.

And while Edwards, like all the candidates, pays lip service to the need for reform of the nation’s health-care industry, his suggestions about the kind of reform he endorses seem pallid and ineffectual. All of them seemed determined to stick with the idea that health care should remain strictly a business proposition, a for-profit enterprise in which money is more important than actual care.

Then there’s the role of God in all this, which give me the heebie-jeebies every time I think about it. On the Republican side we’ve got the Iowa winner, Mike Huckabee, an evangelical who chose to hold a prayer circle among his campaign workers on the day of the Iowa caucus, and a Mormon, Mitt Romney, whose religion is a weird pastiche of sexual repression and authoritarian absolutism so chillingly described in Jon Krakauer’s book, “Under the Banner of Heaven.”

While there are no such paragons of religious extremism among the Democrats, they all continue to do their best to show they are of the “right” religious bent as they meander along the campaign trail.

Not one of this bunch has the courage to say religion has no place in politics, and the prospect of a closet theocracy continues to loom as a distinct and frightening possibility in our political future.

So, all in all, I am not much encouraged by the Iowa results, but then I guess I never expected to be, given the rotten field we have to choose from.

It appears that, once again, we will be presented next November with a heinous choice among lesser and greater evils, forced to vote for whomever each of us individually believes will be the least worse in a pack of bad alternatives.

And once again, I’m forced to hearken back to the words of H.L. Mencken, who once maintained that American voters are too dumb, or too browbeaten, to make good use of democracy as a method of choosing our national leaders.

jcolson@aspentimes.com


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