The Iowa Caucus: As Useless As Ever

Gene Lyons wonders if there’s any point to following the crazy Iowa caucus in his column, “Iowa Republicans: They Never Fail To Pick A Loser:”

Pardon me if I fail to join the crowd handicapping next week’s Iowa GOP caucuses like race track touts peddling betting tips on the Kentucky Derby.

To begin with, I have no clue. Except on the sports page, I normally skip articles speculating about what might happen tomorrow. Damned if I’m going to start writing them.

Also, who cares? History teaches that Iowa Republicans have a particularly poor record of supporting the eventual presidential winner. In six contested GOP primaries dating back to 1976, Iowans have gotten it right exactly once. They chose George W. Bush in 2000—definitely nothing to brag about.

In essence, the Iowa caucuses amount to a marketing device for cable TV news channels; it’s “American Idol” for the politically obsessed. Their secondary function is to introduce cosmopolitan news correspondents to the homespun wisdom of Real Americans in places like Ankeny, Iowa, a Des Moines suburb where John Deere tractors are manufactured.

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