I haven’t done an exact count, but there appear to be approximately a kabillion political cartoons this morning explaining that the technical failures in reporting the results of the Iowa Caucus show that the Democrats are doomed, Trump will win and we can all go home now.
Only Pat Bagley draws my point of view, which is “So what?” and “Who pinned this sign to my butt?”
The second question is easy to answer, though depressing: There is a feeding frenzy that breaks out from time to time and occasionally it’s linked to something substantive but often it’s just one of those things: Someone decides that Bob Dole is really old, or that Al Gore is a liar, or that John Kerry didn’t really win those medals, and then the late night comedians and political cartoonists are off to the races.
BTW, Kerry won those medals, Gore was telling the truth and Bob Dole is 96 and kickin’.
But none of them got to be President, did they?
I continue to believe that the Very Big Failure in Iowa was that, due to a breakdown in a new reporting system, the TV networks were left sitting on camera with nothing to talk about.
Which is kind of funny because most of them had devoted the run-up to the event talking about how Iowa doesn’t represent the nation’s demographics, caucuses are stupid and it’s only 41 delegates anyway.
And yet, instead of running results on a crawl at the bottom of the screen, they were all set for wall-to-wall coverage of the event they had previously dismissed.
Which reminds me of Stan Freberg’s account of the Battle of Yorktown, in which we get this moment of dialogue:
Washington: Do you see me surrendering in a blue blazer with antique military …
Aide: Watch yourself, sir! (explosion)
Washington: … buttons, not too Ivy, just …
Aide: General Washington, sir!
Washington: Yes, what is it, lieutenant?
Aide: I have an idea how we might not have to surrender after all!
Washington: What do you mean? I’m all dressed for the occasion!
Well, they were all dressed for the occasion and left high and dry and pissed off.
It’s a horrible, unmitigated disaster except that nobody has exactly explained what the disaster was beyond a bunch of spokesmodels left talking to each other about nothing.
I have heard comparisons to the troubled roll-out of sign-ups for the Affordable Care Act, and both were, indeed, software failures, except that the ACA foul-up mattered and this one didn’t, since the Iowans had paper backup.
The ACA foul-up kept some people — if they weren’t persistent — from being able to sign up. That mattered, though it got fixed.
All the Iowa Caucus foul-up did was delay the results for a day or two, and again the question appears:
Rob Rogers explains the deep significance of all this, which is that next week’s primary here in New Hampshire takes on great meaning, except that we’ll know the Iowa results by then, so it really doesn’t change anything.
No worries: We’ll know who to vote for.
For a minute there, I thought we might have to pay attention to the candidate’s policy proposals, but we’ll have the Iowa results and so can blindly leap upon the bandwagon of our choice.
Speaking of insignificant delays
There will be all sorts of responses to the State of the Union, but we’ll have to wait for the bulk of them to appear and then, if it still seems important, I’ll look at a few.
In the meantime, Ann Telnaes has turned in another of her piercing live-sketch summaries, which stand above the courtroom-sketch style pieces other artists do because she focuses on the significance rather than recording the images.
Prejudiced? Well, sure. That’s her job.
Courtroom artists have a job only where cameras are not allowed. When an event — the SOTU address or impeachment hearings or whatever — is broadcast, the need to have someone draw pictures of what it looked like becomes minimal.
For my part, I wanted to see how often he called something “great,” which is a tell that he’s drifting off text, while “Believe me” is a sign for his speechwriters to get out the tranquilizer gun.
But he apparently read what they wrote and I don’t suppose it was juiced up more than average, though you can get a complete fact-checking breakdown from the Washington Post or, for a more compact version, the Associated Press.
As with the Iowa Caucus, my expectations started out pretty low, so the question of “So what?” continues to hang in the air.
You want something that matters?
Pia Guerra notes that Trump has decided we should go back to strewing landmines around, because how dare the rest of the world set standards for just wars and decent weaponry?
Apparently, abandoning our Kurdish allies was not causing enough collateral damage. Land mines are the gift that keeps on giving.
While, as Kal Kallaugher notes, we’ve come to an agreement with Israel about how to divide up Palestinian land.
As with the landmine thing, it flies in the face of what our allies have been trying to bring about, but we don’t need allies.
And Dave Granlund points out that Dear Leader considers traumatic brain injuries insignificant and blew off the impact on troops who required treatment after those rocket attacks on the US base in Iraq.
I heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things, but I would say, and I can report, it’s not very serious. Not very serious.
He’s not above dragging out a healthy GI as a prop for his State of the Union speech, mind you.
While, as Patrick Chappatte notes, we’re still sorting through the whole coronavirus thing, in which it is beginning to appear that the Beijing government could have been more forthcoming.
And here’s the point
Any of these stories would have provided plenty of solid programming while the “Who cares?” results from Iowa were streamed underneath on a crawl.