But way back where I come from
we never mean to bother
we don’t like to make our passions other people’s concern
and we walk in the world of safe people
and at night we walk into our houses and burn.
-Dar Williams, “Iowa”

I neither come from Iowa nor the hyper-isolationist East Coast that Dar Williams is referring to in this song and I remember thinking when I first heard this song how emotionally broken those regions are. Not that the West Coast is probably much better, but it has a slightly higher portion of betterness, I would imagine – people willing to take risks or embrace their freedom to a certain extent. This isn’t meant to be a condemnation of other coasts or regions or my friends who come from them. Just a common critique I have of general tendencies, which becomes quite revealing when analyzing the two states which, in the next six days, will anoint the new so-called leader of the so-called United States.

Despite everybody’s dead-sprint to the front lines of the primary/caucus chronology in this young year, Iowa and New Hampshire will still have an insanely disproportionate impact on the election of the President, as they have for decades. A large portion of voters are undecided up until the day of the election, annually amazed at just how poor their choices are yet again in any given year. And almost all of America wants to back a winner more than they want the next President to be good, so those undecideds immediately bum-rush whoever seems to be the most likely winner.

Thus people like John Kerry come out of nowhere and get nominated to be President, despite having no personality and no chance of defeating George W. Bush, just based on a handful of people in Iowa. (And, perhaps, I must duly admit, the media’s willingness to sink someone who isn’t towing the party line by trumping up one small whoop to the level of certifiable insanity.)

My personal schizophrenia should also be noted here to provide context for my comments. I am well convinced that there are no viable choices in either party, and that it’s possible that Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul are actually being paid off by the establishment to seem far crazier than they are to make their reasonable perspectives seem like unthinkable lunacy to the mainstream of America. Once again, as in 2004, we will have an incredibly unpopular ongoing war with no actually anti-war candidate. No one willing to go any further than saying it wasn’t an ideal choice to start the war, but hey, now that we’re in it we might as well stay till 2025 or so.

But (the other half of my schizophrenia here) I also have an insatiable interest in the machinations of politics, and am always drawn back to political analysis despite my confidence that it’s all rigged, irrelevant, and incredibly depressing. I will inevitably watch hours of political television coverage tonight, despite the fact that the candidates are functionally interchangeable and all will continue to run the country into the moral and economic ground.

So back to the show. Regardless of which side of the schizophrenia I’m on at a particular moment, it’s abundantly clear that Hillary Clinton is the inevitable winner of both the Democratic nomination and the Presidency. The name-brand recognition, the rose-colored memories of Bill’s eight-year reign (which only looks good when comparing it pound-for-pound to the reign of King George II), the utter lack of experience of any rivals (not that she actually has much political experience beyond a marriage), and the fact that she has seemed to be a front-runner from the outset (remember the back-a-winner psychology of the American voter!) will all combine to propel her to relative landslides in both races.

I’m still on vacation in Shaver Lake till the weekend (and we’re finally getting snow today!), but were I to have access to write a Duck and Cover today, it might go something like this:

Duck: Are you ready for the coronation of Queen Hillary I today?
Turtle: Don’t you mean caucus?

Duck: A ceremony by any other name would appoint just as well.

Turtle: Could you get any more cynical?
Duck: Just wait.

The real question is who she’ll beat and whether Iowa and New Hampshire will combine to create a Republican front-runner who is chosen by tiny states to become unstoppable, or whether the party’s complete disarray will lead to the first watchable convention since 1968. I realize I’m reviewing things I discussed in my last post of 2007, but when I logged into Facebook this morning, so many of my friends were listing statuses that showed baited-breath anticipation of hope and optimism related to this race. And here in the extremely Republican Garin Clan, there is slightly less interested interest in a variety of candidates on that side. So I feel compelled to spend today reviewing why I don’t share the enthusiasm and any more than politically academic interest in today’s events.

But we started this with Dar Williams and her discussion of how emotions in the Midwest and Northeast lead to people not taking risks. I’m not saying that we could guarantee that if Nevada or New Mexico carried the opening primary with as much respect and homage as people currently confer to Iowa and NH, results would be a lot different. After all, my favorite case that Steve Rabin and I used to run was that we should have a one-day national primary (a case which debuted with a 4-1 win in the semifinals of a tournament in New Hampshire). The whole progressive drag of small state primaries deciding for the nation is a completely busted system. But we still have people in especially low-risk states trying to evaluate how they can best go back to their friends and say they backed a winner.

I feel like this post is rolling around a lot of things I’ve said in the past and I keep flitting wildly between the two sides of my schizophrenia. At this point, I’m just going to go ahead and bank my predictions and move on…

HClinton – 36%
JEdwards – 29%
BObama – 27%
JBiden – 3%
BRichardson – 2%
Others – 3%

MHuckabee – 27%
MRomney – 24%
RGiuliani – 20%
JMcCain – 13%
FThompson – 10%
RPaul – 4%
Others – 2%