Watchdog Blog

Herb Strentz: In Iowa, Thinking of a Running Mate for Gingrich

Posted at 3:49 pm, December 12th, 2011
Herb Strentz Mug

Des Moines — If the endless intonations of “God Bless America” at political rallies and in political speeches have any payoff at all, a blizzard will sweep Iowa on Jan. 3, rendering the Iowa GOP presidential caucus meaningless as their Creator keeps thousands of right-wing evangelicals homebound and, at long last, voiceless.

That sentiment echoes one expressed in an Esquire blog by Charles Pierce, “The Republican Clown Car Needs to Drive out of Iowa. Now.”

Likewise, a friend recuperating from double-knee surgery subjected himself to further torture by watching the Saturday, Dec. 10, Des Moines debate among GOP presidential hopefuls. His reaction, “Can’t we do better than this?” was a poignant counterpoint to the pundit commentary. (Another friend said his problem with the debate started before any candidate said a word; it was Diane Sawyer’s mushy, fulsome introduction of the clowns. He was reminded, he said – after all this time – that Sawyer started her career in Republican politics and worked for Richard Nixon for years.)

If a blizzard and divine intervention are too much to hope for then the caucuses will go on as scheduled and be a truly twisted launching board for the primaries that follow. Pundits will ponder what to make of it when Rick Perry continues his free fall, Michele Bachmann finds that money cannot buy everything, Mitt Romney says New Hampshire is the real test, Ron Paul is ignored regardless, Rick Santorum is just ignored and Newt Gingrich eyes a running mate.

The rest of us, Republicans, Democrats and independents, in reflecting on the Iowa caucuses might fittingly quote the Biblical Cain, Genesis 4:13, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.”

What else to make of the mess in which we lose Herman Cain (more because of a sex scandal than from obvious incompetence for the presidency) only to see Donald Trump try to wedge his way into the clown car.

And then we have the press and public stunned by the revelation that Romney can afford to bet $10,000 on what he sees as a sure thing. That same press, all in a dither by wealthy Romney’s 10 grand, generally ignored the fact that Rep. Bachmann gave the Iowa Republican Party $214,000 to win the Iowa Straw Poll last August, guaranteeing her front-runner status for a week or so. But she stumbled partly because of Gov. Rick Perry’s entry in the race and then Perry stumbled, too, because of Rick Perry’s entry into the race.

All this confusion gives credibility to Romney saying New Hampshire will be the first of the real tests for GOP candidates. In Iowa, forget about the $10,000 wager, Romney is burdened by the endorsements of sane Iowa Republicans who do not embrace the far right agenda of the Iowa GOP platform. But he’ll move onto New Hampshire where an occasional slip into common sense will not be as a much a cross to bear as it was in Iowa.

Speaking of common sense, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul exhibited more of that than most of the Iowa GOP field combined — but his dual reward continues to be passionate support from enough people to make him a contender in normal times and being dismissed as a 76-year-old afterthought in these bizarre times.

“Bizarre” indeed is the word for Gingrich, the poster boy for Lite As A Feather luggage — so unimpeded is he by such baggage as a $300,000 fine when he was Speaker of the House and having received millions of dollars – lobbyists’ type fees – not to lobby for a Washington, DC, group. (Jack Abramoff, who ought to know, said Gingrich’s arrangement with Freddie Mac was corruption, and “a big thing.”)

It’s around now that Newt, all but written off a few months ago, must be thinking of a running mate. His choice should be someone from the private sector, someone use to talking about make-believe successes and someone with an entrepreneurial, anti-regulation bent. Bernie Madoff comes to mind.
If a Gingrich-Madoff ticket seems absurd or irresponsible to you, maybe even unconstitutional, then you haven’t been paying much attention to the run-up to the Iowa caucuses.

Lucky you.

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