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Hitchens On Iowa

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As usual, he is not pleased…

It is quite astonishing to see with what deadpan and neutral a tone our press and television report the open corruption—and the flagrantly anti-democratic character—of the Iowa caucuses. It’s not enough that we have to read of inducements openly offered to potential supporters—I almost said “voters”—even if these mini-bribes only take the form of “platters of sandwiches” and “novelty items” (I am quoting from Sunday’s New York Times). It’s also that campaign aides are showing up at Iowan homes “with DVD’s that [explain] how the caucuses work.” Nobody needs a DVD to understand one-person-one-vote, a level playing field, and a secret ballot. The DVD and the other gifts and goodies (Sen. Barack Obama is promising free baby-sitting on Thursday) are required precisely because none of those conditions applies in Iowa. In a genuine democratic process, these Tammany tactics would long ago have been declared illegal. But this is not a democratic process, and besides, as my old friend Michael Kinsley used to say about Washington, the scandal is never about what’s illegal. It’s about what’s legal.

I’m with Hitchens in spirit on this one, especially on the Democrat side. Why the complicated caucus rules? Why not just a simple up and down vote like the Republicans?

And even the Republicans have problems, but Hitch has more of an issue with Huckabee as a candidate (and Iowa frontrunner) than anything else.

Well Chris, welcome to the new Republican party. What, you thought that it was just neo-cons?

But back to the wonky Democratic caucuses, I have family in Iowa and they don’t even know how to do it. That’s a pretty undemocratic way to go about choosing the nominee, and it should change, period.