Watchdog Blog

Herb Strentz: If Bachmann loses Iowa after All This…

Posted at 12:58 pm, July 8th, 2011
Herb Strentz Mug

DES MOINES—Here in the heartland, much of the news coverage and commentary about the Iowa caucuses remains doggedly oblivious to the fact that their outcome will be determined by the religious right, which is at the controls of the Iowa Republican Party.

Indeed, about the only ones who routinely acknowledge the dominance of the religious right in shaping the Iowa agenda are “born again Christians” themselves.

Most recently they issued a demand that every candidate for the GOP nomination, as well as President Obama, pledge to support traditional marriage and scorn same-sex marriages and, presumably, civil unions as well.

The pledge is along the lines of some of the more assertive aspects of the Iowa GOP political platform in that it also declares that “robust childrearing and reproduction is beneficial to U.S. demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial health and security.”

So it is business as usual for the religious right in Iowa.

It is also business as usual for Register political columnist Kathie Obradovich and others — like Republican Gov. Terry Branstad — who insist that moderate Republicans will have only themselves to blame if they forfeit Iowa to the religious right.

But that’s like blaming a snowball for lacking sufficient insulation to survive in Hell.

To sustain the credibility of the Iowa caucuses, it almost seems like the press is propping up the credibility of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann as someone qualified to be President of the United States — after all, the caucuses already suffer from the Iowa absence of the likes of Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. When Bachmann erred by declaring that she, like John Wayne, was born in Waterloo, Iowa — when St. John was born in Winterset — Obradovich observed that, after all, it wasn’t as though Bachmann was running to be president of the State Historical Society.

(Bachmann, by the way, was the first to sign onto the traditional marriage/anti-birth control pledge.)

A Register Poll reassured readers that GOP caucus goers will be religious and educated and earn decent incomes, too. I guess I missed the point because it seemed to me that the Rev. Cotton Mather had all those qualities, and we still had the Salem witch trials.

The Register opinion section did run an op-ed by Ron Carey, former chief of staff for Bachmann and former head of the Minnesota GOP. He said Bachmann “decidedly does not” have the qualifications to be President.

So perhaps that counts as balance.

Meanwhile, the press breathlessly awaits the outcome of the Iowa Straw Poll, the Aug. 13 fundraiser by the Iowa GOP in which candidates will see who can buy the most votes at $30 a crack in order to be declared a front runner by the press.

Several candidates have already paid the $15,000 minimum to have a display area at the Poll, held on the Iowa State University campus. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas bid the most for a choice location at the straw poll, $31,000.

Four years ago, then Register political columnist David Yepsen acknowledged the 2007 Straw Poll had some merit in winnowing the field of candidates, but also characterized it as a “shakedown” by the Iowa Republican Party.

The logic of today’s GOP caucus boosters is that moderate candidates should spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in Iowa — Romney’s 2007-2008 Iowa effort is pegged at $1.5 million — to support the Iowa GOP which will then use much of its money to support legislative candidates who detest moderates.

It’s business as usual for the Iowa GOP and the religious right in Iowa.

Hey, all you moderate snowballs — Stop by for a visit!

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