If you don't count the District of Columbia non-binding beauty contest — er, primary — today's caucuses in Iowa mark the beginning of the Serious Election Season, the time when the gloves come off and the candidates come out swinging.

And I wish I could be more impressed by this, but given my positioning on the political continuum, perilously close to that of the Vast Center Wing Conspiracy, I can't work up a whole lot of enthusiasm for any of the battling Democrats, who strike me generally as either too far left or really too far left.

Then there's Howard Dean, who spent his years as Vermont governor as a quiet, unassuming, middle-of-the-road kind of guy, then suddenly bounced onto the national scene with enough simulated pent-up anger to supply a year-long World Wrestling tour. At least, I think it's simulated. Then again, Dr Dean claims that he switched from the Episcopalian church to the Congregationalists because "I had a big fight with a local Episcopal church about 25 years ago over the bike path." Now there are plenty of reasons to leave a church — certainly plenty of reasons to leave the Episcopalian church — but this strikes me as extremely petty.

Besides, there's a war on, and Dean doesn't like war. Actually, probably no one this side of Donald Rumsfeld really likes war, but the Democratic candidates generally are hoping to use the ongoing Iraqi tumult as a wedge issue, which demands that they characterize the Bush administration as bloodthirsty and heedless. (The exception here is Joe Lieberman, who, while picking a nit here and there, has generally backed the President on war issues, and who is paying for that backing with a floundering campaign. Lieberman, be it noted, is not even playing in Iowa, hoping that he will do well enough in New Hampshire next week to eclipse whatever frontrunner emerges from today's caucuses.)

After New Hampshire, a cluster of primaries, including Oklahoma's. I am registered, of course, and I will be on hand to mark my paper ballot. But since it's almost a certainty that George W. Bush will carry the state and its seven electoral votes this fall, which way I vote is almost academic; Oklahoma Democrats generally tend to be close to the center, but given the convoluted nature of the process by which convention delegates are selected [link requires Adobe Reader], I don't know if the actual votes cast in the primary will have any measurable effect on how the state votes at the Democratic National Convention; it seems to me that the party is more interested in presenting a diverse face than in presenting a platform people can live with.

At this point in history, it's probably easier to be a Republican. On the other hand, I've never been known for taking the easy way out.

The Vent

#373
19 January 2004

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