“Thank you. So, this is the moment they said would never come”
“Unbelievable, unbelievable, I have to start by saying I absolutely love the people of Iowa. Unbelievable, unbelievable.”
“God bless the great state of Iowa. Let me first of all say, ‘To God be the glory, tonight is a victory for the grassroots'”
“What a night, unbelievable night, what a great campaign.”
“Thank you Iowa, nine months ago, we came to this beautiful city. We had no political organization, we had no money, we had no name recognition, and we were taking on the most powerful political organization in the United States of America. And, tonight, while the results are still not known, it looks like we are in a virtual tie.”
Opening lines from the Iowa caucus victory speeches by Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders, in the order they were given last Monday.
The Iowa caucus is over, the results are in and, probably nobody – not the alleged experts or the candidates themselves – know what the results actually mean. Listening to the various candidates spin the results and trying to manipulate their meaning is fascinating. The post caucus wrapup started with Rubio, who channeled Obama’s “They said this day would never come” Iowa speech of 2008, with “this is the moment they said would never come” and that, in itself, is fascinating. Rubio painted himself as an outsider who exceeded expectations and that was “the day that would never come” part, but he also inferred he was an outsider like Obama and then went on with the main thrust of his speech which was a vicious attack on Obama. He told us, in effect, that Obama is not just a lousy president, but that he is actively trying to ruin the country, and that he, Rubio, is an outsider just like him and, in effect, the only one who can beat the dreaded Hillary who wants to continue the evil Obama ways. Marco Rubio comes across as young and fresh but the longer he talks, the less likable he seems to me.
Trump was next and had been leading in the polls and expected to win. That was his main pitch, he “is a winner, they are losers”. He was also running as a unbeholden outsider using his own money to run, and, since he didn’t win Monday night, he emphasized the outsider bit. Trump talked about how everybody – everybody – told him not to run because he would never crack the top ten in Iowa but and he did so well that he almost won. It was a better speech than I expected and the “unbelievable” bit was probably more heartfelt than rhetoric. As an aside, when Trump said he liked Iowa so much that he might buy a farm there, he must have forgotten about the other meaning of “He bought the farm”, which, in a way, he did by skipping the debate. End aside.
A couple of weeks ago, a liberal friend said that he would prefer Trump over any other GOP candidate and I, reluctantly, am starting to agree. Like Bob Dole said, he could “probably work with Congress, because he’s, you know, he’s got the right personality and he’s kind of a deal-maker.” The thinking of both my friend and Bob Dole is that Trump may be an asshole , but he is a rational player. I agree, but he is a scary rational player. He reminds me a little of Mike Freesmith, a fictional politician running a gubernatorial campaign in California, in the political novel, The Ninth Wave, by Eugene Burdick, the author of Fail-Safe which became the movie Dr. Strangelove and The Ugly American. In The Ninth Wave, Mike manipulates by fear. As I remember it, his pitch was I’m going to win and you will be very sorry if you don’t vote my way.
Ted Cruz also ran as an outsider and he was the big winner of the night and, to my of thinking, the scariest candidate. He is a True Believer and he came from behind with a big push from the Evangelical political machinery. I’m not sure how much this will help Cruz, however, as both Huckabee and Santorum won here and neither won anything else. I read that Cruz is hated by the GOP establishment and I can understand why, he is slightly to the right of Ghengis Khan and more than willing to shut the government down to get his way. Cruz’s victory speech went on and on, and just when I was beginning to wonder if he would ever leave, Hillary cut him off with her speech.
This seems pretty typical of the Clintons. Cutting into another guy’s speech is not forbidden, of course, just a little untoward. Like Trump, I think that Clinton expected to win but, unlike Trump, she was willing to give it a push. Before all the votes were counted, the Clinton campaign, preemptively, announced that she had won, “screw the actual counting”. That taking control of the message, which had echoes of another Clinton calling himself the “Comeback Kid” while coming in second or third in New Hampshire twenty-four years ago, is both admirable given the goal and scary, given the goal. I suspect her happily saying “what a night, unbelievable night” with a big smile with probably more relief than anything.
If nothing else, Hillary Clinton wants to win and I think that she will. I am not a Bill Clinton fan, I didn’t like his trashing of welfare or the Defense of Marriage Act among other things and I may be tarring Hillary with a brush that is meant for Bill, but I am concerned that, like Bill, Hillary will do almost anything to get and stay in office including selling out her progressive ideals.
Bernie Sanders was the last to give a victory speech and he came across as, well, Bernie Sanders, an outsider who would rather not be president than sell out. I like Bernie Sanders and agree with his position on everything, so I am not very objective here. He seems disheveled, but urgent, always on message because he actually believes the message. He believed in it when nobody else did and now that a big hunk of the country is catching up, he has moved from the margins to center stage. I don’t buy the argument that what Sanders is calling for is unobtainable so don’t waste a vote on him. Maybe it is unobtainable, but, at least Bernie sees the problem and is pushing for a fair solution. That is a big step ahead of somebody who doesn’t really feel or understand the problem or doesn’t even try to solve it because the solution isn’t easily attainable. But Bernie comes with alot of baggage, he has called himself a Democratic Socialist so long it would be disingenuous to change and he is 74. Seventy four years old! that is old.
At the end, nothing changed my mind, maybe I feel a little more inclined to dislike Trump a little less, but probably not. If Bush, Christie, or John Kasich spoke, I missed it, but there is no way I would ever vote for them. They all ran as competent insiders and this is not the year for that. Even though they sound more reasonable than the Republican pack leaders, they are even worse. Trump says his hateful speech is not PC and that’s true but the politically correct speech of somebody like John Kasich has the same nasty message only it is in code. I am fascinated by politics and this year is more fascinating than ever. It is America on a big stage, and this year that is an America in which a large part of the citizenry feel the country is in decline and are pissed and want somebody to blame. Politics is the best spectator sport in the world and I love it but it reminds me of an old saw that I think was originally attributed to golf, Politics is nothing if you don’t love it and, if you do love it, Politics will break you heart.