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Tilting at Windmills

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January 3, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

DISSING THE CAUCUSES....Time's Jay Carney explains why reporters don't like the Iowa caucuses:

Another reason to dislike the caucuses: we can't spend the whole day of the vote calling and emailing and texting each other to find out the latest (deeply flawed) exit poll numbers. Instead, we have to sit around and wait until Iowans finish their dinners and trudge to their local church basement or middle school gymnasium, where, after milling around for a while, they'll declare their presidential preference. We won't have any results until something like 9 pm EST for the Republicans, 10 or 11 pm for the Democrats. And then the results we do get will be accurate! I mean, where's the fun in that?

He's pretending to be joking. But I don't think he is.

Kevin Drum 2:16 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Comments

I am sick of hearing about the Iowans, I may never watch the Music Man again... when can I get even and bore them silly with my own blatherings about whom I may or may not vote for in MY PRIMARY?!? Jerks. Go away Iowa. Someone change this stupid system QUICK.

Posted by: * on January 3, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Carney's just bitter he doesn't have a regular teevee gig.

He just wants to break into the big league circle jerk where he can sit in a studio and blow hard with Wolf and Hannity and Tweety and Joek Lein, instead of talking with fat farmers who have shit on their boots.

Posted by: Roger Ailes on January 3, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

As far as I can tell, reporters love the Iowa caucuses.

A sampling of the most politically committed people in one small Midwestern state, to which nearly all Presidential candidates devote many months of time and hundreds of dollars per vote, each party's Iowa caucus draws a steadily increasing amount of media coverage, beginning in this cycle about a year ago. Large portions of newscasts and big front page stories are devoted to pondering whether one of several candidacies can survive if they don't do well in Iowa.

How many stories does one see on the nightly news or the front pages about what a dopey way this is to start choosing a President, and how all these months of campaigning are popular among Iowans mostly because of the out-of-state revenue the campaigns and attendant media bring in?

Posted by: Zathras on January 3, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

FWIW, Rush Limbaugh was dissing the Democratic caucuses because those present actually discuss what they think and try to persuade each other. There are many reasons why the Iowa caucuses are undemocratic, but that's not one of them.

Posted by: Grumpy on January 3, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Pity the poor MSM reporters, they have such a thankless job.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on January 3, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

They get to expense account everything. So fuck them and their bitching.

Posted by: DJ on January 3, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

DJ, my point exactly, if too sarcastically phrased.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on January 3, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Of course he's not kidding. After the 2000 elections, and their incessant "calls" for Florida (each negating the one before) the media discussed their behavior amongst themselves, and decided they were right to pull this nonsense. Do you think they really want to be forced to report only what they know?

Posted by: Mike B. on January 3, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

As I have pointed out on several occasions, wouldn't it be worth scrapping the entire primary scheme and have the Presidential candidates chosen at the parties' convention if it meant that snot nosed Ivy Leagued punks like Jay Carney and the rest of the Washington press corp were unemployed "political reporters"?

Posted by: Chicounsel on January 3, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I empathize.

Reporting is a job. Reporters, like anybody else, want their job to be interesting. From the reporter's point of view, even crappy reporting is better than just sitting around and doing nothing (even if you're doing nothing on an expense account). Covering Iowa involves a lot of sitting around and doing nothing. It can't be the greatest of jobs.

Posted by: mmy on January 3, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Why does anyone listen to the vacuous Jay Carney?

This is the guy who thought hiring Joke Line at TIME -- after the latter was summarily terminated at Newsweek for lying to his editotr and publisher about his authorship of the novel Primary Colors (by Anonymous) -- was somehow a great idea.

The once-great TIME magazine is now but a fleeting shadow of its former self, having long ago eschewed reasoned and sober political analysis in favor of groveling at the altar of pop culture.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 3, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK
The once-great TIME magazine is now but a fleeting shadow of its former self, having long ago eschewed reasoned and sober political analysis in favor of groveling at the altar of pop culture.

I blame AOL. Or, rather, the thinking that thought AOL/Time-Warner was such a smashing deal.

Posted by: idlemind on January 3, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Let's look @ the fundamental problems w/the Iowa caucuses, shall we?

* Small state, unrepresentative of the US as a whole
* Low participation (~10%, I've seen cited elsewhere)
* All votes are *not* counted equally from caucus location to caucus location
* Secret ballots? Surely you jest...

And *this* is the system we use to anoint an early Presidential favorite? Why not just give the incumbent a dartboard instead.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on January 3, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Grumpy wrote: "Rush Limbaugh was dissing the Democratic caucuses because ..."

Because Rush Limbaugh is paid millions of dollars to say bad things about Democrats to the legions of weak-minded, ignorant, neo-brownshirt dupes who listen to him.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 3, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if you're not getting results until everyone else is anyway...couldn't you just get them poolside somewhere?

Posted by: cazart on January 3, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

"I am sick of hearing about the Iowans, I may never watch the Music Man again... "

That's Indiana. But don't let that stop you from doing what you gotta do. Or not do. Whatever works.

Posted by: BTD Greg on January 3, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

The once-great TIME magazine is now but a fleeting shadow of its former self, having long ago eschewed reasoned and sober political analysis in favor of groveling at the altar of pop culture.

LOL, you need to do a little research into the Luce family if you think Time ever engaged in reasoned and sober political analysis.

Posted by: rea on January 3, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry BTD Greg, but Music Man is set in the fictional River City, Iowa.

Posted by: pine on January 3, 2008 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

That's Indiana. But don't let that stop you from doing what you gotta do. Or not do. Whatever works.

You are simply wrong here, BDT Greg. The Music Man is set in the fictional River City, Iowa. I would stake my mothers eyesight on it. I know that piece of musical theater backward and forward - I played the piano score for the drama club's production two different years when I was in high school.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 3, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Oops - refresh would be my friend, wouldn't it? Pine got there first. But that little bit of smart-assery at the end merits two corrections on principle, I suppose.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 3, 2008 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

You are simply wrong here, BDT Greg.

Oh well, it's not the first time. I got that song "Gary, Indiana" stuck in my head and it lead me astray.

Posted by: BTD Greg on January 3, 2008 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

There's more bitching about Iowa this time around because the nature of the campaign (with competitive races and no "incumbent" in either party) and the super-compressed primary schedule has meant that reporters had to get to Iowa earlier than ever before and spend more time there than ever before.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on January 3, 2008 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

I got that song "Gary, Indiana" stuck in my head and it lead me astray.

Thanks. now it's stuck in mine. At least you didn't have the notes on the page dancing in front of your eyes! :)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 3, 2008 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

But that little bit of smart-assery at the end merits two corrections on principle, I suppose.

Oh, I think he was being encouraging, not smart-assing. As in, "Don't stop not watching MM regardless of where it takes place."

Nevertheless, he now has "Gary, Indiana" on constant loop in my head, too, so you suck, Greg. (And that was a good-tempered barb.)

Posted by: shortstop on January 3, 2008 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK


Henry P. Wallace
is going to provide us his first person caucus experiences tonight at Watching Those We Chose. You might want to give him a look. Of course you could wait around for the jaded punditry. I am sure you can't go wrong waiting for Jay Carney and his ilk to tell you what you think. Your choice.

Posted by: corpus juris on January 3, 2008 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

I was kinda hoping the new year would bring less shameless blogwhoring around here. Oh, well...

Posted by: shortstop on January 3, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what's really wrong with this Iowa thing:
1. Heavily white population disenfranchises ethnic minorities.
2. Cold weather disenfranchises older and less-abled people.
3. The bastards grow corn for all that damn fattening HFCS, inappropriate but thereby politically mandated ethanol program.
I could go on, but that is bad enough.
It's an outrage. Can we stop it?

Posted by: Neil B. on January 3, 2008 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

sorry, shortstop. It wasn't shameless. It was shameful. I'll try to do better.

Posted by: corpus juris on January 3, 2008 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

It's an outrage. Can we stop it?

Probably not in the next two hours.

Posted by: shortstop on January 3, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

OT: h/t to firedoglake...

Biden, Dodd & Richardson to Iowans: Make your own decision
[Exclusive] -- Contrary to news reports from state and national media, three of Iowa's Democratic campaigns want their supporters to know that no blanket campaign directive has been issued, instructing supporters to throw support behind a different candidate during tonight's caucus.
"If Iowans are independent enough to have chosen me from the field of candidates, I'm quite sure they have the ability to make an independent second choice as well," said Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd.
The campaign for Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, offered similar sentiments.
"The rumor mill is hard at work," said Olivia Alair, a campaign spokeswoman. "We are encouraging our supporters to stand tall and stand tough and have every reason to expect that they will."
Robert Becker, Iowa director of the Bill Richardson for President campaign, took particular offense with reports circulated this morning that his campaign was encouraging non-viable supporters to switch to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
"Here we are the day of caucus and there are all these rumors about deals being made," he said. "I'm just sick of it. We have not directed our supporters to caucus for anyone other than Bill Richardson."
All the campaigns agree that in these final days, there have been internal discussions as to strategy. All are equally adamant that they have not and will not issue a blanket statement to their supporters to move to an opposing campaign.

One of the original reports has been corrected in the NYTimes...

Posted by: grape_crush on January 3, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'm in favor of any news event that breaks at a time that's inconvenient for east coasters, and convenient for West Coast people. If the easterners had any brains they'd live out here.

Posted by: Tom Hilton on January 3, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

"I am sick of hearing about the Iowans, I may never watch the Music Man again... "

"That's Indiana. But don't let that stop you from doing what you gotta do. Or not do. Whatever works."
Posted by: BTD Greg on January 3, 2008

--

Shhh, he's on a roll.

Every now and then America needs a good rant because there are real reasons for it. If we don't ever let ourselves feel and rant, then how are we ever gonna get government to fix things.

Look at the Vietnam war. How many people had to get throughly enraged to put a stop to that nightmare?

Look at George W. Bush & Co. How long do we have to put up with all his crap before somebody stands up and says, "Enough!"?

John Edwards is right!

Posted by: MarkH on January 3, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Not in the next two hours, of course - but for next time, everyone who cares about the national interest should push hard to stop the early Iowa primary.

Posted by: Neil B. on January 3, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Greenwald has a superb post illustrating the mentality of the campaign press corps.

They are truly silly people that have nary a rememberance of what actual journalism is about anymore.

Posted by: Simp on January 3, 2008 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Joshing you, Neil B.

I think what I like best about MarkH's Edwardsmercials is the almost total lack of segue--like, how to get from point A to "Edwards for Real Leadership--and Real Repetitious Supporters!" in as few tenuously related sentences as possible. Point A could be "Wildfires are dangerous," "I had a ham sandwich for lunch" or "I think we should see other people," and MarkH would bring it on home to Johnny in three easy steps.

Posted by: shortstop on January 3, 2008 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

This system is as close as it gets to participatory democracy in the old Greek fashion. People get to stand up and be counted. No dimpled chads here. Everything in the open. God Bless America.

Posted by: me on January 3, 2008 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK
…The once-great TIME magazine is now but a fleeting shadow ….Donald from Hawaii at 3:11 PM
Time was always a mouthpiece for the right wing loony Henry Luce. It was the last news media to give up on Nixon. Screw Time, Inc.
…Reporters, like anybody else, want their job to be interesting. From the reporter's point of view, even crappy reporting is better than just sitting around….mmy at 3:11 PM
Oh, please, these people are high school Heathers: snotty and elitist. Reporters Agree: Hillary Is A Cold Fish

... Hillary stepped onto the parked press bus in Indianola for about 90 seconds to deliver bagels and coffee, and I'm not sure what this says about Clinton and the press — the chill, I think, comes from both sides — but it was a strange moment. She expressed her sympathies that we're away from our families and "significant others," tried a joke at the expense of her press secretary, and paused. Nobody even shouted a question, whether because of the surprise, the assumption that she wouldn't actually answer, or the sheer desire to end the encounter.
One reporter compared the awkwardness to running unexpectedly into an ex-girlfriend...

After they spent the last 15 year lying about the Clintons, they still have no shame and no decency.

Posted by: Mike on January 3, 2008 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Complain about caucuses all you want. I get to run one on February 9th. By then, most likely, the nominations will all but be sewn up. Fuck Iowa, and to hell with the primary "system".

Posted by: bigcat on January 3, 2008 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

"LOL, you need to do a little research into the Luce family if you think Time ever engaged in reasoned and sober political analysis."

Excuse me, but news coverage and analysis shouldn't consist solely of just what you want to hear. The fact that you and I may not agree with a publisher's or editor's personal politics, doesn't necessarily invalidate their resultant product as a work of responsible journalism.

While Henry Luce was certainly Republican to the core, and his magazine's editorial content reflected that political bias, he nevertheless allowed his journalists considerable latitude in reporting the news as they saw fit.

For example, on 22 October 1951 -- fully two years before Edward R. Murrow and CBS News were to do so (see George Clooney's fascinating 2005 docudrama Good Night and Good Luck) -- TIME magazine publicly warned of the menace posed by Wisconsin GOP Sen. Joseph McCarthy, having taken issue with the senator's baseless contention that Johns Hopkins Prof. Owen Lattimore was a Soviet agent:

"Lattimore, in fact, had great influence in U.S. academic and journalistic circles dealing with the Far East. He was an important factor in leading the U.S. toward policies which many Americans regard as tragically wrong.

"But that was not what McCarthy said about Lattimore. He said that Lattimore was 'the top Soviet espionage agent' — and to this day McCarthy has not produced a scrap of evidence indicating that Lattimore was a spy or in any way disloyal. The question of whether Lattimore's analysis of the Far East was correct or incorrect — which is still a highly relevant and important question — does not interest Joe. Such questions have no appeal to demagogues."

There are those, such as writer Irving Wallace (A People's History of the United States) who charge that TIME has historically been the house organ of the GOP, just as there are those who complain about the supposed leftist content of Mother Jones and The Nation.

My answer to both charges: "So what?"

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 4, 2008 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

I think more and more reporters are becoming caricatures of themselves- intentionally or otherwise. Especially those that think they are being funny. Only, instead of becoming cartoonists, they end up being the cartoons...

Posted by: DesiPanchi on January 4, 2008 at 7:08 AM | PERMALINK
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