Monday, February 23, 2015

The Cardboard Cutout Campaign

The media hates a non-story, and the Democratic nomination (non) contest has been the dullest since at least 1999-2000 and more accurately the dullest in the modern post-reform era of nomination politics.

St writes, including me, have been stirring the pot for a Hillary alternative, backlashing against the "inevitability" argument.

Now the backlash to the backlash is underway - but the New York Times inadvertently sums up the contest in one photo.

This is from last fall's Harkin Steak Fry.  Clinton was actually at the event; it was her much ballyhooed first visit back to the state in - some crazy blogger counted -2446 days.  But while the speech was fine, the interaction was minimal.  Clinton held a brief press op while posing for the obligatory steak-flipping photos, but Bill did almost all of the talking.  And there was a brief ropeline scrum, so those who were willing and able to push forward got a handshake.

But by and large, the interaction with caucus goers was about as substantive as this cardboard cutout.

This picture says everything about the state of the game in Iowa.  It shows a retail-averse Hillary Clinton avoiding real people, limiting her own presence to speeches from a great distance.

Yes, I know the Hamburg Inn stop in October that I'd held out for years as the ur-caucus event And I'm glad she went. But the no warning nature of the event, crammed in between Cedar Rapids and Davenport stops - usually, such things are announced - meant that no one could show up with a tough question. (Such as: "Name one Middle East issue on which you disagree with AIPAC.")  The attendees were almost all Democratic campaign staff and core volunteers, herded to the Hamburg without any idea what was happening. 

And, by bizarre coincidence, the local REPUBLICAN chair.  No, I'm not making that up.

The photo also shows what polls show: Iowas way too accepting of the limited contact, willing to go along with a cardboard cutout campaign.

Be careful what you settle for, Iowa.  Republicans, too, because our fates are linked.  A caucus-unfriendly president may mean that in 2019, cardboard cutouts will be all Iowa sees.

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