Who says Iowa’s meaningless?
Rick Santorum is the race’s closest cognate to Zombie Bush, and his sudden rise to the top of the GOP heap reintroduces the painful Bush-era problem Republicans must now confront and resolve.
Helped along by the manic rise and fall of front-runner after front-runner, the candidates’ awkward conspiracy of silence surrounding the Bush years almost succeeded. Only Ron Paul dared remind Republicans of the unresolved issues not so neatly buried in their not-so-distant past. Even with his strong Iowa finish, however, Paul’s newsletters are a millstone around his campaign.
At the same time, Michele Bachmann’s deviance from establishment orthodoxy — on the debt ceiling, for instance — has done nothing to forestall her own cave-in.
And poor Rick Perry is left wondering how the longest-serving governor in America could be trounced by an ex-senator who endorsed Arlen Specter and lost his own re-election campaign by nearly 20 points.
The hard answer is that a lot of Republicans want to party like it’s 2006.
A lot of social conservatives are willing to hop in the time machine if it means a last-ditch effort at wresting the culture back through the application of law.
Watching Santorum’s performance over the last week or so, it’s chilling to see Iowans once again confirm Moderate America’s fear that the GOP is obsessed with sodomy and banning birth control. Trillion-dollar deficits and the globe teeters on the edge of another financial meltdown, and the SoCons are gathering themselves around a candidate the rest of us expect to start opining any minute now about doodies.
So it’s not that Iowa is meaningless, it’s that I sincerely wish it were.