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January 11, 2012

The King of Hearts

Kevin E. Dayhoff

It is fairly well accepted among keen observers of national politics that the Iowa caucuses of Tuesday a week ago are much more about political and media-theater than a prognosticator of who will vie for the Oval Office this fall.


As one political pundit put it, you pick corn in Iowa; you pick the next president in New Hampshire. Maybe so – maybe not. I’d rather look at Iowa as a political combine – a soulless machine that separates the wheat from the chaff.


Above and beyond the not-too-small matter that the January 3rd caucus is a win-win moneymaking machine for Iowa, the political opera is otherwise literally, repristically, heuristically, and metaphorically a brutal threshing and winnowing process.


First the candidates are milled and pounded and then thrown in the air. The chaff – the lightweights and the also-rans – are then ground into dust and blown off to the side to be plowed back into the earth.


Yet Iowa in 2008 was an anomaly of sorts. In the January 3, 2008, Democratic Party caucuses, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was up against then-New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Democrat machine. However, the omnipresence of presidential candidate, then-Senator Obama, in 2007, paid-off.


Mr. Obama captured 37.6 percent of the votes, versus North Carolina Sen. John Edwards’ – remember him – 29.7 percent and Mrs. Clinton’s 29.4 percent. The caucus introduced Mr. Obama to the nation as a viable candidate for the Oval Office – and stunned many political pundits.


Yes, Mrs. Clinton defied all the meaningless numerology that is political polling in the past decade, and went on to win New Hampshire’s primary. And, yes, the country would have been better off if Mrs. Clinton had won the presidency; more on that in a moment.


In full disclosure, I’ve done polling in the past, most notably for Baltimore’s WBFF-TV Channel 45 for the November 7, 2000, election. It can be a valuable tool.


That said; with a few notable exceptions, the shibboleth of utilizing polling data to predict a winner or loser has long lost its gravitas. Especially since everyone and their sister conducts polls these days, regardless of their credentials, methods, or depth of knowledge; and in an age of the sea change in telecommunications, not one particular media may be determined to be the best way to reach likely voters.


With a few notable exceptions, most polls are simply marketing approaches for equally vacuous and meaningless media coverage.


However, as said recently by Jon Cohen in The Washington Post, “The New Hampshire polls in 2008 sent shock waves not mainly for their numerical inaccuracy — pre-primary polls are notoriously imprecise — but because most presaged the wrong winner. On average, the polls before the Iowa caucuses were just as off-target...


“And this year’s Iowa polls were no better than they were four years ago, with an average miss on the top two candidates equal to the Clinton and Obama differences in 2008.”


By the time you read this, we will all be analyzing the electability of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and pondering how badly the Republicans will look as they snatch defeat in the November elections from the jaws of victory.


To paraphrase the colorful words of a liberal colleague, who after carefully watching the debates and the political silliness of the Iowa caucuses remarked irreverently, at this point President Obama could kill a puppy on TV and still win the election.


Especially since President Obama still has the complete support of the traditional left-leaning major media that will work hard to make sure he gets a second term, so as to justify its unabashed and shameful full-throttle support of the machine-made candidate of 2008.


It has been said that the highest statistical probability of failure is within sight of success. Only with Republicans, they usually can’t wait and work hard at eating their own long before the finish line.


To paraphrase President Lyndon B. Johnson, the only difference between cannibals and Republicans is that cannibals only eat their enemies.


This will not be a repeat of the 1932 election between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and President Herbert Hoover. The only thing left is to wait and see how close the final electoral vote comes to Mr. Roosevelt’s 472 versus President Hoover’s tally of 59. [If you have yet not pressed print to save this column for November, I’ll give you even more reason in a sentence or two.]


Speaking of President Roosevelt, he is the president who mostly resembles President Obama. In the end, historians will debate which of the two was America’s most populist presidents.


And speaking of successful populist campaigns, just wait until you see the 2012 election campaign of President Obama. It will be the stuff that will make Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez green with envy.


I will not opine here on the merits of each Republican candidate. I hate winter and do not want to fall into complete seasonal affective disorder from the resulting hate mail.


If more and more Americans do not identify with either the Democrat or the Republican Party, and both parties continue to lose their structural integrity, one may argue that these days the Republican Party looks like the fraternities are running the campus. A better analogy is the movie, the “King of Hearts” by Philippe De Broca.


Bear in mind, Republicans do not fall in love, they fall in line – and they do not do that very well. The rule should be to nominate the most conservative Republican – that is electable.


The hard right wing of the Republican Party will ensure the election of President Obama and his running mate, now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, vice president. Yeah, you read that correctly.


Moreover, after four years in the vice president’s office, the 2016 election will see President Hillary Clinton and Vice President Martin O’Malley take the oath of office in January 2017.


Now, you can press ‘print.’


You read it first here on


. . . . .I’m just saying.


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