Roger L. Simon

Winning and Losing in Iraq and Iowa

By now we all know the surge is working to some degree – even the New York Times is admitting it. But we also know, if we have learned anything in the last few years, that no victories hold and that the beat of the global war on terror is likely to go on for a long time.

Still the electorate is fickle, all politics local, and parochial interests are rising in this election, which should be focussed on larger concerns. Yet we are back to the familiar world of Iowa and retail politics. I share Ron Rosenbaum’s frustration. Why them? Why are the Iowans so important in electing the leader of the Western World? Who gave them that right and permission?

Years ago, perhaps, this retail politics thing had its reasons but we are living in a very different society now, interconnected by cable television, satellites and the Internet. The globe is on the edge of exploding. How a potential President does pressing flesh in some barber shop in Wapello IA (population 2014) doesn’t seem relevant to the world of 2007. It is an old game and, I think, an outmoded one.

And it gives too much power to a small group of people. Watching the Iowans and New Hampshire-ites, you get the impression that what these people care most about in a Presidential candidate is how much time that person spends in their state. What a limited, self-centered view, when you think about it. Wouldn’t a better criterion be how much that person spends, say, studying what’s going in Pakistan? But no, the great game goes on – played just as it always has been. What’s that saying about a country getting the leaders it deserves?