Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 24, 2011

     On Monday I wrote a column about how calm and quiet Washington is in August.  Congress is away, the president is vacationing, lobbyists are yawning, etc.  I forgot one of the old rules:  "Never assume, it makes an ass of u and me."   Well, it was calm until we had an earthquake yesterday.
     And then, of course, it wasn't calm at all.  The apartment building I live in literally shook, quivered, moved.  We left, of course, we frightened residents. My little group perched outside a nearby cafe and sipped coffee.  After an hour or so, all seemed calm so we went back inside.  No major damage--broken glass from picture frames, one old wooden rocking horse I'm fond of had fallen off the wall and broken a hoof, but my friends think it can be mended.
     Usually excitement here is about a bill, a vote, a scandal.  Not this time.  No one was badly hurt, the papers say.  It's been a hundred thirty years since DC had one this big.  If they want to wait that long before the next one, it'll be fine with me.

Monday, August 15, 2011

August 14, 2011



     Well, the Iowa straw poll has come and gone.  It wasn't exactly a big turnout event.  More than sixteen thousand Iowans voted, more than four years ago but well short of the record of over 23,000 set in 1999.


     It's already thinned the field by one--former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has ended his campaign.  The winner, of course, was Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachman. This column wondered a few days ago whether she was real.  She was.  Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich got just 385 votes;  you have to wonder how long he'll stay in.


     Mitt Romney, the alleged front-runner, finished sixth with 587 votes.  He was behind both Texas Governor Rick Perry, a write-in, and former pizza magnate Herman Cain.  Hmmmm…


     The race goes on, of course. The real stuff in Iowa and New Hampshire starts early next year.  Was the straw poll a straw in the wind?  Maybe, yes;  maybe; no.  We'll see.      

Saturday, August 13, 2011

August 12, 2011

     There's a new Republican presidential candidate this weekend--Texas Governor Rick Perry-and he's different--different from some of his GOP competitors and very different from President Barack Obama.  For one, he likes to jog armed.
     He believes in low taxes and limited government.  He's been governor for eleven years. Texas, the Washington Post reports, has no income tax, ranks 46th in the taxes it collects per capita and has accounted for between 30% and half of the new jobs created in the country in the past two years.
     A quarter of the state's people lack health care coverage, the highest percent in the country.  Texas ranks 47th in spending on schools and highest in the country for levels of chemicals released into water and carcinogens released into air, the Post says.  So it's different, all right.  Very different.
     Is it what most Americans want?  I guess we'll find out. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 11, 2011

    Iowa, where they'll have the first real presidential action with those caucuses early next year, is having a straw poll this weekend.  Candidates and reporters are sure to be watching.
     The poll may answer some questions about the 2012 race.
     Why, for instance, do stories always describe former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as the front-runner?  In front of what?  Nobody's run anywhere real yet.  This column has always thought to paraphrase Gertrude Stein when it comes to Romney:  there's not much there there.   Nice hair but no there. 
     Or, is Michelle Bachman a contender or is she too conservative to actually be
elected?   She's pretty far right, but so is much of the GOP these days.  Can a woman win? Hillary Clinton didn't four years ago.  But could Bachman?  Sarah Palin?
 .   Is Rick Perry real?  Is he running?  Sure sounds as if he is.
     When I was still covering politics, I always liked going to Iowa.  Good, thoughtful people those Iowans seemed to me -- voters who really cared about politics.   I'm sure that's still true.
     So come on, Hawkeye State, give us a hint or two.   Please, Iowa, we could sure use a couple.