Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Big Day - Iowa Caucuses 2012

I know I haven't blogged much on the openning salvos of the 2012 election, but I have a good excuse. I have been too busy answering all the robocalls I've been getting. OK while that isn't true, thank God for caller ID, the last few days have seen a plethora of calls, 18 on Saturday, 19 on Monday & God only knows how many today. The mailings have been coming fast & furious as well. & so has the mudthrowing as well.
The mailings have been interesting. 1 accused Ron Paul of being a Washington insider. OK, given how long he has been in Congress that may be technically true. But, he hasn't exactly followed the insider path if he is. But if you are merely slinging mud & trying guilt by association, then that is the way to go. Then there were 3 mailings by Romney that left me a bit puzzled. They all supposedly listed my caucus site for tonite.  I live in DBQ precinct 4. Yet 2 of the mailings had me going to a caucus site in Bellevue, the 3rd sent me down to Bettendorf. How do you screw something as simple as that up????? The Iowa GOP has a website to find your caucus site & the Iowa Secretary of Stae has a way to find your precinct. & that is only 1 of many ways to do so. (Note: The GOP site does have 1 glaring error, for someone from Oelwein. Oelwein's 4 wards will all meet at my cousin's restaurant, Luigi's. But the GOP has the location as 120 S Frederick, instead of 1020 S Frederick. Fortunately Oelwein is small enough that people will know the right address.
As for the mudslinging, I already talked a little about that in relation to Newt Gingrich a few weeks ago. It hasn't gotten any better. It isn't bringing up the concerns with Gingrich's record, that is fair game, it is how the mud has been thrown at him & others (see above on Ron Paul). But what has really hurt Gingrich is the poor way he has handling those concerns about his past. His early comments on supporting embryonic stem cell research didn't help his stand with Pro-lifers. He later changed on that. But it does help those who question how much he really has changed to make their point that he really hasn't. He should have had a response in place. Monday, Laura Ingraham brought up how she had warned him last year. His response was that he wasn't going to respond to mudslinging. According to a Des Moines Register story, Gingrich has since realized he was wrong to not respond. In response to a question at a campaign stop about his greatest weakness, he told someone in Waterloo  “Probably that I’m too reasonable and I should have responded to the negative ads sooner.”
Reasonable or not, he should have dealt better with his past. I am willing to give him the benefit of the dount for the most part. But that doesn't mean blindly going forward with blind support either. Gingrich does have to prove he has sincerely changed. & he hasn't done that.
Speaking of NOT dealing with the past as he should, that leads us to Mitt Romney & RomneyCare as well as his more liberal past. Like for Gingrich, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he has changed. But he does need to show more evidence to get past my concerns as well as those of many others that he won't be a strong concervative. Another concern I have is how Romney seems to be the Establishment candidate. Given that they want to maintain power without upsetting the status quo, that doesn't give me a lot of reassuraince that Romney will follow through as he claims. In fact, I see the establishment as more concerned about maintaining power than winning the election. The strongest candidates for true change, like Paul (& others) on the budget & other constitutional issues, are the ones who are tapping into the grass roots especially that of the Tea Party. The Establishment doesn't seem to get it, that their agenda is no longer a winning one.  The Establishment seems to be willing to let Obama win as long as they stay in control. Much of the Establishment is still the East Coast more liberal agenda gang that has produced such Pro-abort Republicans as Maine's Maine Senators Olympia Snowe & Susan Collins.
The Establishment better embrace the needed change symbolized by Ron Paul , the Tea Party & the Pro-life Movement or they may find themselves left behind as a new party forms that will offer needed change, & will win elections & bring it about.
On the other hand, I don't think Romney's endorsement by the Des Moines Register will mean that much among the rank & file Republicans. It might have in the 60s when the Regester truly was the "Newspaper Iowa Depends On" as well as being seen as Republican leaning. They are owned by Gannett this days & seen as anything but conservative. Additionally, the DMRegisdter has all but abandoned much of Iowa  outside of central Iowa.
Speaking of Ron Paul, I have to start by once again reminding people that he is who I am supporting. 4 years ago after Brownback dropped out I switched over to him as the best in the pack when it came to fiscal & Pro-life issues. & it has pleased me that he has made Pro-life a stronger part of his campaign. In fact, it helps to disprove 1 of the myths the media has pushed about the Tea Party movement, that they don't care about the unborn. Never mind that over 60% of those involved are Pro-life as well.
What has hurt Ron Paul the most is how he often comes across when it comes to foreign affairs. While he doesn't always clearly articulate it, or the media accurately report it, his stand is closely aligned to that of our Founding Fathers who had huge concerns about foreign entanglements. On the other hand, he isn't opposed to a proper defense. As his son Rand pointed out in an interview, about 80% of his proposed fedearl budget would be for defense. He needs to better clarify the difference between the US being policeman for the world, which we shouldn't & our valid defense of our interests.
But perhaps the biggest effect Ron Paul has had, IMHO, & 1 of the reasons the Establishment isn't too kean on him, is that he has brought issues, like the Fed, into the spotlight & forced politicians to pay attention to them. He brought that home at 1 of the debates before Christmas when he pointed out how long he had been speaking about his stands on some of the issues that have since been taken up by others on the podium. If nothing else, he has done that much needed service to the Republican Party & the USA.
As for Jon Huntsman, well, if he wants to skip Iowa he can. We may not pick the final winner. But we do help cull the pack, a very importanst service. I found his justification interesting (we'll get to the slam in a munute). According to a Politico piece  he said that New Hampshire residents "don’t like to be told who to vote for.
“They don’t want the establishment teeing up somebody that they feel they have to vote for,” Huntsman said. “They want the candidates to earn it. So we’re proving the point, I think in real time here, that politics and successful politics must be earned on the ground.”
Well, the same can be said about Iowa. Even more so that in New Hampshire. Huntsman said on CBS' The Early Show the other day that "They pick corn in Iowa, and pick presidents here in New Hampshire." His comment showed arrogance as well as ingorance. & if he should get the nomination will hurt him in Iowa like McCain' negative statements on Iowa did him. We take the process just as seriously here in Iowa as they do in New Hampshire. Huntsman's statements ring too much of the elisist attitude towards Iowa & the Midwest in general. & bluntly, I think they are wrong. Iowa as painted as a bunch of hicks. We aren't we do more than grow corn. We grow soybeans, cattle & hogs as well. We have industry as well as agriculture. We have culture, symphonies, orchestras, quality theatrical orginizations, even opera. If anything, Iowa is probably as good a cross section of the US population than most states, esp those on either coast.
Michelle Bachmann seems to be fading fast. Her big day was the Ames Straw Poll last August. Since then she has burnt out badly. Some of her gaffes hurt, but there is much more than that. It strikes me that as people take a 2nd look they see others they like better. & while she does still have a base, how much will stick with her tonite? Some, but probably not all. The fact that last week Sen. Kent Sorenson, her campaign chair has gone over to Ron Paul won't help her hold on to her supporters.  Some will follow to Paul, others will go, I suspect, to Rick Perry & Rick Santorum.
Rick Perry hasn't taken off as well in Iowa as some might expect him to given his strong evangelical background. I see 2 things hurting him. The 1st is there is a huge batch of buyers remorse in the Republican Party for President Bush. He turned out to be a lot less conservative & 1 of the main causes for the loss of Congress in 06' & the presidency in "08. & they see Perry in a similar light. The fact that he issued an an executive order mandating that Texas girls receive human papillomavirus vaccine in 2007 despite the huge unpopularity of it among Pro-lifers didn't help his credentials. Then, on the same day that Perry’s aides met to discuss the vaccine, the makers of Gardasil, then the only approved option on the market, donated $5,000 to Perry’s campaign. Fortunately, state lawmakers overturned the mandate months later. But that has hurt his image more than people realize. & he really doesn't seem to have done enough to overcome those doubts. Neither have some of his actions when it comes to illegal immigrants.
There are a few others too far back or to obscure to really comment on, which leaves Rick Santorum. I will admit that his recent surge has surprized even me. I wasn't sure he would be able to overcome the damage he did in supporting endorsement for his Senate pro-abort colleague Arlen Specter over Congressman Pat Toomey in the 2004 Republican primary. In the short run it may have helped John Roberts & Sam Alito get on the Supreme Court. But he left too many Pro-lifers upset at the betrayal & enabled  Bob Casey Jr. to paint himself as a better Pro-life Catholic resulting in Santorum losing in 2006. It has since been shown how Casey is not as Pro-life as he claims (& shown how he was willing to milk his father's real Pro-life stand for political power.)  Spector's abandonment of the Republican Party in 2009 didn't help either. Fortunately, Santorum has seemed to overcome that by being very strong & clear in standing up for life.
1 thing that hasn't got much air play in the MSM is the recent attack by Alan Colmes for how Santorum & his wife Karen handled the death of their child Gabriel shortly after birth. He has since apologized but Colmes gave real insight into the left's anti-left stand. Colme's refered to the dead child as an "it". The way Colmes put it, he makes it sound like Santorum should have let the doctors dispose of the child as a piece of garbage rather than treating him with the dignity every human being deserves. Taking the body home for the family to view, having a funeral etc isn't crazy, it is Santorum being true to his Catholic faith.
If the Santorum surge carries through to tonite, it will help him in New Hampshire & elsewhere.  He is going to have to really psuh his conservative credentials & evn more so that he can beat Obama. & in the end that is about as important as having the right positions.
I see Romney as weakest on Pro-life, but all of the candidates I have looked in this post at are a lot better than Obama. Getting a strong Pro-life president is important. But there is more. A strong Pro-life Congress is needed as well. & getting strict constructionist judges put in is another.
At this point I am going to step out & say how I see things playing out tonite, barring any last minute surprizes. 1st of all, Romney has made it his to lose. & I suspect he just might.  The major polls have Romney & Paul in a statistical tie. Public Policy Polling's latest (the most recent to come out) adds Santorum to that statistical tie. I see it as a toss up between Santorum & Paul. A lot of Paul's supporters are falling under the radar because they are younger & have cell phones. Thus they are more likely to be missed in polling. Santorum will take away from Bachmann's supporters as will Paul. Romney will need to do all he can to get his supporters out while hoping that Paul & Santorum don't do as well. Something I can't see happenning. Especially with Santorum's huge surge among evangelicals.
Gingrich will probably come in 4th. & he might still do better than expected. If he gets over 15-16% then he will definitely be able to keep going, for at least a while. I don't expect it, but if he comes in a solid 3rd then his fortunes will truly be on an upturn.  Perry will need to break the 10-12% barrier to keep his campaign going much beyond S. Carolina. I will be surprized if Bachmann gets better than 6th or more than 5-8% of the vote. She may stay in for a while, but her campaign will be on life support if she does.
The 1 mystery I keep trying to solve is who are all these undecideds that Bachmann & others have been talking about. For most polls they are less that 5%,not the huge numbers some people claim.
In the end, what Iowa will do is end up solidifying who are the best candidates & getting some of the lower ones to drop out, as they should. By about 7:30 to 8 pm tonite we will know. & we will see how far off I actually am.
Then the rest of the work will have to be done. & this is just as important. electing the Central Committee people, proposing planks for the platform & electing delegates to the county convention. These things get lost in the shuffle. But they need to happen. Each is important. The Central committee is the heart of the local party, the convention goers hone the platform to set the direction of the party (even if some candidates do ignore it) & ultimately the convention goesr go on to district & state conventions where they continue honing the platform, elect the state central committee as well as Iowa's members on the national committee & the delegates to the national convention. & I bet you thought it was just about the presidential nominee.
1 comment on the Central Committee. The early date is creating a bit of a problem. We are using the old precincts because the new ones aren't supposed to go into effect until later this month. So we will be elcting people to precincts that will soon not exist. In the case of 2 DBQ city precincts literally as they are cutting down from 22 to 20. (IMHO they should have done that instead of cutting down from 24 to 22 while keeping 4 wards.) I really think that the info could have been made ready a few days sooner. But the real blame lies on all those other states who pushed things up pushing Iowa to today. The original date was in February. The good thing about the earlier date is the madness is over sooner. But something has got to be done to deal with the other states jealousy over Iowa & New Hampshire. Seriously, some changes do need to be made to ensure that the later states have more of a say, like rotating them. But bunching them up isn't the answer either as it really takes canddidates away from the voters in some of them. Whatever is decided on, it won't be perfect either. They have been honing this since day 1. & there always will be the need to adjust things as times change.
That aside, I am ready for a last barrage of calls today. & ready for the caucuses to start. I will be helping out getting people signed in at my site so I will be there early. It may be a long nite ahead, but it will be an interesting one. & one that will affect the rest of the campaign.

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