In Praise of Iowa – NYTimes.com.
In Praise of Iowa
By ROSS DOUTHAT
It’s easy to complain about the Iowa caucuses – easy and completely justifiable. Iowa’s caucus-goers have given us the presidency of Jimmy Carter, lent credibility to Pat Robertson’s political ambitions and created a permanent constituency for ethanol subsidies among Democrats and Republicans alike. As friendly and civic-minded as Iowans may be, there’s no reason why a low-turnout contest in a small, rural state should play such an outsize role in every presidential nominating process.
But in the wake of Tuesday night’s Romney-Santorum photo finish and Ron Paul’s strong third-place showing, it must be said that this time around Iowans have discharged their responsibility impressively. Presented with the weakest presidential field of any major party in a generation, they made the best of a bad situation, punching the three most deserving tickets without handing any of them a decisive victory.
Read the full story here: The New York Times
The Iowa Caucuses’ Bitter Harvest – NYTimes.com.
Published: December 31, 2011
AS the hour of actual caucusing drew closer, Ron Paul’s campaign trumpeted his endorsement by a pastor who, as it happens, has spoken of executing homosexuals. Rick Perry pledged to devote predator drones and thousands of troops to the protection of the Mexican border, making the mission to keep every last illegal immigrant from crossing sound as urgent as rooting out terrorists in Pakistan.
And Rick Santorum, bringing his “Faith, Family and Freedom” tour to this eastern Iowa town on Thursday, promised never to be cowed by all those craven secularists who believe that a stable, healthy household needn’t be headed by a God-fearing mom and dad.
None of these three men is likely to win the Republican nomination. But before they exit stage right — stage far right, that is — they and a few of their similarly quixotic, similarly strident competitors will do no small measure of damage to the Republican Party and no great favors to the country as a whole. What happens in Iowa doesn’t stay in Iowa: it befouls Republicans’ image nationally, becomes a millstone around the eventual nominee’s neck and legitimizes debate about some matters that shouldn’t be debatable.
Many Democrats take heart from the spectacle of ultra-conservative pandering in Iowa, correctly surmising that it bolsters their own party’s fortunes and President Obama’s re-election chances. They shouldn’t, not if they care about the country, best served by a vigorous back-and-forth about the proper size and role of government and about budgetary restraint. In its least hypocritical moments, the Republican Party has provided an important counterbalance to a Democratic tropism toward paternalism and bloat. It can’t do that if it marginalizes itself by repelling fiscally conservative but socially moderate voters who have little appetite for the shenanigans in Iowa.
Read the full article here: The New York Times
Newt Gingrich’s aid quit after calling Mormonism a cult. Is it? – Slate Magazine.
What’s the Difference Between a Religion and a Cult?
And where does Mormonism fit in?
2012: The year of the insider? – The Washington Post.
2012: The year of the insider?
Every poll conducted over the last two years makes one thing crystal clear: Voters are sick of the status quo in Washington and want outsiders to shake things up.
And yet, with less than a month remaining before the Iowa caucuses, the two frontrunners for the Republican presidential nomination — former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — are political insiders of the first sort.
Read the full story here: The Washington Post
Filed under elections, USA
Is Mormonism a cult? Who cares? It’s their weird and sinister beliefs we should be worried about. – Slate Magazine.
Romney’s Mormon Problem
Mitt Romney and the weird and sinister beliefs of Mormonism.
I have no clear idea whether Pastor Robert Jeffress is correct in referring to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more colloquially known as the Mormons, as “a cult.” There do seem to be one or two points of similarity. The Mormons have a supreme leader, known as the prophet or the president, whose word is allegedly supreme. They can be ordered to turn upon and shun any members who show any signs of backsliding. They have distinctive little practices, such as the famous underwear, to mark them off from other mortals, and they are said to be highly disciplined and continent when it comes to sex, booze, nicotine, and coffee. Word is that the church can be harder to leave than it was to join. Hefty donations and tithes are apparently appreciated from the membership.
Whether this makes it a cult, or just another of the born-in-America Christian sects, I am not sure. In any case what interests me more is the weird and sinister belief system of the LDS, discussion of which it is currently hoping to inhibit by crying that criticism of Mormonism amounts to bigotry.
Read the full story here: Slate Magazine
Who won the Republican presidential debate? – Roger Simon – POLITICO.com.
Issues? Who can run the country? The language of democracy? Hey, that’s not what we are about. We are all about who won.
Here is who won – – and lost – – the first major Republican debate, which was broadcast by CNN from Manchester, N.H., on Monday night. It is guaranteed accurate to three decimal places.
Read the full story here: Politico
Michele Bachmann zeroes in Iowa – Kasie Hunt and Maggie Haberman – POLITICO.com.
The Des Moines Register poll released Saturday confirmed what the other GOP presidential campaigns already knew: In Iowa, Rep. Michele Bachmann is for real.
The congresswoman’s cool, dismissive response to an unmistakeably provocative question may have provided a clue that explains her rapid ascent from cable television culture warrior to contender: Far from being a one-dimensional character who can play only at the extremes and at high volume, Bachmann is a polished politician with more adaptability than she is given credit for.
Read the full story here: Politico
US Republicans: race to the right | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian.
US national debate needs pragmatists, not people who indulge grievances and parade prejudices as badges of identity
The US Republican party has made a bad start showcasing its presidential talent as it begins to choose a candidate to run against Barack Obama next year. Its prime exhibit is Mitt Romney, who made his personal fortune downsizing companies, but whose current message – ironically – is “jobs, jobs, jobs”. He joked to unemployed Floridians, that he, too, was unemployed. Few laughed. Or there is Michele Bachmann, who makes sense to the evangelical right, but sounds almost unhinged to many others. Her answer to faltering economic recovery? Close down the Environmental Protection Agency.
Read the full article here: The Guardian, online edition, June 19, 2011