05 January 2008

The Iowa Caucus

Despite my feeling of philosophical detachment, I admit I retain what one might call an anthropological interest in the internal politics of the two major parties of the U.S.

Allow me, then, a few words about the caucus this week, amidst all the noise of celebration and dismay.

On the Democratic side, the results amount to less than may meet the eye. Yes, they weakened Senator Clinton, because some of her appeal had been the sense of inevitability itself. And one can't keep the cloak of inevitability around one's shoulders while coming in third. In anything.

Still, its at most a flesh wound. She still has money, organization, a famous name, and the promise of reviving an era to which many Americans already look back with fondness.

If Edwards had come in first in Iowa, I would have written the above two paragraphs just as I have. But I would have added on to them, without scare quotes, something like this: "and she's also a woman, which gives her campaign a let's make history together appeal that Edwards frankly can't match -- her sex and her insider status together making for a formidable inside/outside combo."

But Edwards didn't come in first. Barack Obama did. And he can certainly match the "let's make history together" appeal, so in the present circumstances she can't count that as one of her assets.

Still, there are only three candidates who count right now on the Democratic side. The rest are dropping away. Triangular debates might be a better show than the over-crowded ones we've so far seen.

On the Republican side, I think the rise of Mike Huckabee is an amazing story, that might make the proper chronicler -- if there's a Theodore White at his side -- ecstatic.

But we should remember that the ethanol lobby has veto power over any Republican caucus efforts in Iowa, and we should inwardly congratulate Ron Paul and John McCain. Each took a principled stand against ethanol subsidies, and each effectively punted this caucus as a result. On to New Hampshire and the rest of the country, folks!

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.