THE ENDLESS MIND-BOGGLING IDIOCY IS GOOD FOR US
In today's New York Times, Adam Nagourney says that photo finishes in the Iowa caucuses might leave the nomination races even more muddled than they are now.
But, he concludes, there's a bright side:
...None of this is meant to suggest that such an outcome would mean that what has taken place here over the past year is insignificant. Quite the contrary. Watching these candidates, Democrats and Republicans, deliver their final speeches, take the last rounds of questions from Iowans and shake the hands of supporters one more time, it is apparent that most of them are much better at campaigning than they were a year ago.
Mr. Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, an old Iowa caucus hand who has moved here to help out in the final days, said as much in explaining why he would be comfortable with even an inconclusive outcome. "The experience here in Iowa," he said, "has been tremendous for the entire campaign."
Yes, that's supposed to make us happy. America has endless, stupid, mind-numbing, trivia-obsessed campaigns, and we're supposed to be pleased that the potential Leaders of the Free World are now better at waging precisely such endless, stupid, mind-numbing, and trivia-obsessed campaigns than they were a year ago. We're supposed to applaud their mastery of all the wrong skills.
I'm not one of the "post-partisan" Pollyannas who think we can all get along politically and sing "Kumbaya," but do you ever wonder whether there's more bickering, more obstinacy, more drawing of lines in the sand in our politics than there could be simply because our elected officials spend so damn much time running for office? If you spend that much time contesting, aren't you inevitably going to think that fighting rather than negotiating and compromising is the normal way to proceed? Isn't it possible that the partisanship would be reduced somewhat if we just shortened the damn campaigns?
But campaigning endlessly and turning trivial differences with opponents into irreconcilable breaches is, apparently, what American democracy is all about. At least that's what I learned yesterday during a layover while watching William Bennett hold forth in a CNN segment on Mike Bloomberg's possible third-party run:
BENNETT: ... I think this is -- you know, it's a free country. You can do it if you want to do it. Right now, I think it's kind of a stinker thing to do. People have been working very, very hard, you know, for a year or more, going to every town in Iowa, every town in New Hampshire -- because this is the what we -- the way we believe democracy works.
Look, there are a lot of reasons to be extremely skeptical about a Bloomberg candidacy -- I gave a few in the previous post -- but the only people outside Iowa and New Hampshire who think our horrible campaigns are the way they are "because this is ... the way we believe democracy works" are William Bennett and all the rest of the dug-in careerist politico scum. The rest of us hate our campaigns. We might pass on Bloomie, but not because he dared to reject our precious system for picking a president.