Organization versus Passion: Iowa to Clinton, Hampshire to Sanders

Street protests surrounding Madison Square Garden, site of the 1980 Democratic National Convention.
Street protests surrounding Madison Square Garden, site of the 1980 Democratic National Convention.

Little Rock   I favored both teams heading for the Super Bowl, but I don’t bet on sports. I’ve been all over Nevada, visited Reno and Vegas scores of times, but I’ve spent my money on cheap breakfasts while there, figuring my odds of winning were the same as they would be if I just threw money in the street. The biggest difference is that the cash I would be losing might go to someone who needs it, rather than lining the pockets of some mega-rich, and probably Republican, casino mogul. But, handicapping political races is almost a citizen’s obligation in the United States, so eventually we have to calculate the odds and pick some winners.

I’m calling Iowa for Hillary Clinton and, perhaps sentimentally, New Hampshire for Bernie Sanders.

Unquestionably, Hillary Clinton is in trouble. Despite the churning in the Republican list, I can’t even describe fully how worried I am about the general election. The negatives, the distrust, the sound of calculating, grinding machinery more than the sizzle of soaring hope and promise, are worrisome even against an unknown. I’m not hearing voters demanding experience and seasoning, and that’s what Hillary offers in spades. At least at this point.

Bernie Sanders has invigorated his underdog status with as much bite as bark. He has undoubtedly pushed Clinton more to the left and fully into President Obama’s arms. He has not shied from socialism and has legitimized progressives. He has held his own in the “money” race while eschewing super-PACs and embracing small donors. As opposed to Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and a host of wannabes on the other side, he would actually be a great President.

But, then there’s Iowa. Election after election on each four-year cycle, we’ve been there and done that with ACORN beginning in 1980. Passion might enliven the base but stone cold organization is what puts bottoms in the chairs and welds the discipline to the numbers to deliver delegates at the end of the night. The level of pure chaos in an Iowa caucus events is amazing. We’ve seen times where ACORN organizers were asked to do the count in frenzied rooms where there was no way to determine the real numbers and where no one asked where they were from or who they were! We’ve walked into caucuses where we delivered huge numbers and been horns-woggled at the end of the night with nothing, hours later. We’ve also walked in with almost nothing and come out with a handful of delegates. There are other issues proposed. Resolutions on all manner of things. Organization matters. A lot!

Even if Sanders and Clinton are neck and neck with great managers and huge campaigns, the campaign that is the best organized is going to win there. Clinton gets Iowa.

Sanders will do well though, and I think he will do well enough to go back to New Hampshire in his own Vermont backyard and win.

Likely a last hurrah before heading South, but it’s something, and we might be able to make something out of it in the future, if we can survive the year.


More News on Congressional Repub Witchhunts

steve-king-acornNew Orleans On the eve of a New Year the news today (isn’t this mainly a holiday, so why don’t we catch a break?) it seemed a case of déjà vu or as the Who sang, “new boss is just like the old boss” with more tongue flapping about an ACORN investigation in the coming year.

Representative Steve King (R-Ia) from the western district of Iowa yammered on at a press conference in his homelands where the largest city may be Sioux City, which is a city largely because that’s in its name:

“There has been a list of government oversight and investigations that needs to be taken up. And it’s just a natural thing that people that are in charge don’t want to investigate their own party. I saw that happen to some degree when Republicans were in charge, and I clearly see it happen now with Democrats controlling the presidency and the House and the Senate.

“So I think that you will see investigations of ACORN, for one. You’ll hear a lot more in the news about ACORN, and about the insidious nature of them — about how the national organization of ACORN now has been fractured, but they’re reforming in the states with the same people, the same players, the same intentions.”And there’ll be other investigations looking into the Pigford farms issue, which I think is full of fraud, that what amounts to is paying reparations to black farmers in America. We don’t do reparations in America.”

He seems a little bent out of shape on the issue of “reparations” for black farmers, which must have some local appeal to the dirt diggers of Iowa where the blackest thing around they hope is the soil.  The chip on his shoulder about ACORN seems trivial.  He seems to want to investigate the fact that the organization “has been fractured,” that it’s “reforming” and that it’s same ol’ same ol’ or some such.  Is that an investigation?  Is there something even arguably wrong with any of that?  Is King arguing for something other than a total waste of the taxpayers’ money?  What balderdash!

The other piece was a “rattle the cage” on Attorney General Eric Holder reported in today’s New York Times by Charles Savage:

“Mr. Holder said that he did not know Mr. Issa well, but that he had known Mr. Smith for years. The two recently had lunch, and Mr. Holder said he believed they could work together.

Like much of Washington, the two chairmen are likely to start off focusing on economic issues. But it seems inevitable they will turn to Mr. Holder, a frequent target of their criticism over the past two years.

Last March, for example, they released a joint letter criticizing the Justice Department for not doing more to investigate the community activist group ACORN, and for an early 2009 decision to downsize a voter-intimidation lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party, a black-nationalist fringe group they portrayed as an Obama administration ally.

“We’ve already seen this administration dismiss one case against a political ally — the New Black Panther Party — for no apparent reason,” Mr. Issa and Mr. Smith wrote. “We remain concerned that politicization at the Justice Department once again may result in the administration’s political friends getting a free pass.”

Asked about the prospect of oversight hearings and subpoenas involving the New Black Panther case, Mr. Holder said, “there is no ‘there’ there.”

“The notion that this made-up controversy leads to a belief that this Justice Department is not color-blind in enforcement of civil rights laws is simply not supported by the facts,” he said. “All I have on my side with regard to that is the facts and the law.”

With ACORN there is literally no “there there” since the organization has ceased to exist, so, yawn, yawn, what’s the point?  Furthermore, Holder can cite the fact that he amazingly was a tiger in fighting ACORN through appeals on their challenges to their funding cut offs as not having been an unconstitutional “bill of attainder.”  Other than physically showing up at an office and beating ACORN staff and members with a stick, he was all over this every other way in court.

Clearly there’s nothing to investigate.  This is just a Hail Mary press play.

And, of course pure politics.  Michael Gaynor, a right wing blogger has argued as recently as this week that “The Key to Beating Obama in 2012 Is Publicizing the Truth About Him and ACORN.”

It’s hard for some of these folks to climb off the old, high horse even when it’s clear that horse just doesn’t ride anymore.

Let’s really have a new year in 2011!