Watchdog Blog

Herb Strentz: The Iowa Straw Poll, Made Fun of Everywhere

Posted at 10:42 am, August 17th, 2011
Herb Strentz Mug

DES MOINES—If we were to take the advice of Scottish poet Robert Burns, the Iowa GOP Straw Poll would be toast — finally put out of its news media-induced merriment and ending the misery of those who take democracy seriously. You know, as though self-governance were something to nourish and value, not something to debase and deplore.

Burns wrote:

O would some Power the gift to give us
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us…

“To see ourselves as other see us” came to mind as I read a posting on the Straw Poll from, an Australian website, sent our way by our Aussie son-in-law.
It’s a good opening to how “others see us,” with regard to the Straw Poll.

From Crikey:

Yes, that’s right, a year before the Republican nomination, 15 months before the election, a bare nine months since the 2010 mid-terms, we’re already embarking on another presidential contest, and not even courtesy of an actual primary or caucus, but a straw poll at a Republican fundraiser.

Somewhere within the Republican party branches in other US states are operatives wondering why Iowa should be able to play such an influential role in shaping the early stages of the race, and thinking about how to manufacture another event in their own state that could raise funds and play an influential role even earlier than Iowa.

On and on it goes: US politics is now a virtually ceaseless election cycle, with eighteen month-long presidential campaigns barely finished before mid-terms begin to loom, before the talent begins assembling for the nomination of the party that most recently lost the White House. At best, policymakers get 6-8 months of clear air before the next round of elections starts dominating the agenda.

A permanent campaign is no way to run a country. Exhibit 1 — the United States of America.

From this Aussie perspective, Iowa is showing the world how not to run a nation.

In Canada, Now Public informed site visitors: “The Ames Straw Poll is actually an Iowa State GOP fundraiser whose results are not binding to anyone, but it gets treated with considerable weight, at least before the results come in.”

One of the more whimsical online takes on the Iowa Straw Poll was at The Monkey Cage in the United Kingdom. “Things we learned from the Iowa Straw Poll” was fashioned after an NCAA basketball bracket with four matches:

• Misinformed Rage is The New Hope v. Straw Poll Means Nothing

• Straw Poll Means Everything v. Playing with Huckabee Gets You Nowhere

• Nobody Reads Newsweek v. Iowa and Mormons Don’t Mix

• Those Chosen by God Can Arrive Fashionably Late to Parties v. Godfather’s Pizza Still Exists

Advancing to the semi-finals were: Misinformed Rage, Playing With Huckabee, Newsweek and Godfather’s.

Eventually, Nobody Reads Newsweek defeated Misinformed Rage in the finals, testifying to Bachmann’s Straw Poll win.

Makes more sense than an outcome based on who can buy the most votes at $30 apiece, or 18 pounds, as the UK post noted. (The Monkey Cage label, by the way, is from an H.L. Mencken quote: “Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage.”)

In Israel, Jerusalem Pulse Radio took a sober, no-nonsense view of the Straw Poll:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry… may have scared off some Jewish voters with his statement in the past that the presidency is “what I’ve been called to” and that Jesus will save America…

Bachmann, a Christian, is a favorite of the Tea Party but has not stated if she would agree with the faction’s growing demand that the United States cut its debt by slicing foreign aid – including assistance to Israel.

Wrapping up with a return to Burns’ homeland, Scotland on Sunday reported:

“America, having been reduced to bankruptcy and social disintegration by a messiah, is now in urgent need of a saviour. That is why the presidential election of 2012 is so important. It is also why the failure of any towering champion of authentic conservative values to emerge so far looks ominous…”

That lead came under the headline: Republicans need ‘Sarah Palin with a brain’ in 2012 battle

O would some Power the gift to give us
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us…

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