Pay Attention ’08–Some Thoughts from Iowa

January 3, 2008

The Iowa Caucuses are over. Here are some of my thoughts:

The Winners. Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama emerged as the clear winners in the Republican and Democratic Iowa Caucuses, respectively. Huckabee continues to ride the wave of rising popularity–a key part of which is his support from “born-again”, evangelical Christians. (Total sidebar: It’s amazing how much that term is getting tossed around. I wonder if people know what that means.) The question is whether the Huckatrain can keep rolling. Many Republicans still are not sold on Huckabee (myself included), and many believe that he cannot wage an effective campaign in the general election. Obama also had an outstanding night that was capped by his speech which the media cannot stop talking about. And there is some valid reason for that. His speech spoke to the issues Americans care about in a passionate, unifying way.

Overall, the winner of the night is change. People are tired of politics as usual. They want candidates that will bring change to Washington.

The Losers. While several candidates technically “lost,” I believe the two biggest losers are Romney on the Republican side and Clinton on the Democratic side. Romney poured so much time and money into this state that his losing effort here does not bode well for the future of his campaign. He needs a better performance in New Hampshire. Clinton’s third place finish also hurts. On a night when change is the theme, she seems to be the Democrat that gets pegged with the weight of the institution. Also, it seems that many believe she may prove to be too divisive in the general. All this said, it is hard to rule anyone out in this crazy election season.

Frustration. I’ll admit that I (as a Republican) am a bit frustrated with the Republican party and its candidates. As I watched the Democratic speeches, I heard them speaking out on the issues, and I do not seem to hear the same thing from the Republican side. I see a party that bounces around from mediocre candidate to somewhat likeable candidate as we realize that we’re not really excited about anyone. Why is that? I do feel like the Republicans are all trying to walk a tight-rope as they try to distance themselves from the establishment (insert ‘Bush Administration’ here) without distancing themselves too much from the base of the party. In the midst of all this, it is easy to forget what a conservative is and to speak clearly on the issues from a conservative standpoint.

The most frustrating moment of the night for me came during an interview of Rudy Gulianni on Larry King Live. Larry asked the former mayor about Barack Obama, and Gulianni was properly very polite and congratulatory. But as he wrapped up his answer, I kept on waiting for him to speak out about the same issues Obama had spoken about. Why can’t Republicans speak out about issues like health care and unifying America and optimism? Why can’t we say that we care about those same things but explain that the ways Obama, Edwards, or Clinton would deal with the problems facing America are wrong-headed?

Those are just a few of my thoughts. Seriously, though, the race is still wide open on either side. But it could narrow considerably next Tuesday in New Hampshire.

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One Response to “Pay Attention ’08–Some Thoughts from Iowa”

  1. JCS said

    Ben

    Thanks for your insights on the Iowa Caucases. I especially identify with your thoughts on the winners and your frustrations with the Republicans – you nailed it!

    I look forward to your recap after New Hampshire.

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