Silly me. Frank Myers, a former designer/copy editor for the Globe Gazette, once chided me for using the word "irony" too often in stories.

"When the firehouse burns down, that's an irony," said Myers. "There are no other ironies."

Well, Frank, my friend, I think I found another one.

Media from other parts of the country love to criticize the Iowa caucuses and wonder how they get so much national attention.

And they're rather snooty about it.

Walter Shapiro, writing for USA Today, once called Iowa the "hot-diggety-corn dog" state.

CNN political commentator Jeff Greenfield said the Iowa caucuses "violate the most elemental values of a vibrant and open political process."

Columnist Richard Cohen in The Washington Post last week described how some members of the British Parliament used to be elected from districts that had very few people. They came to be known as "rotten boroughs."

He said rotten boroughs do not exist in England any more but "at least one exists in the United States. It is called Iowa."

Cohen commented on how a small percentage of voters in a small state have enormous influence.

"If the next president is a Republican, there's a pretty good chance several dozen people in Iowa will have been instrumental in choosing him or her," he wrote.

Here's how Cohen describes the situation in Iowa from his perch in Washington, D.C.:

"Iowa Republicans are a pretty conservative lot. In general, they abhor abortion, gay marriage, Obamacare, The Departments of Education, Energy and Commerce, NPR, support for the arts, the East Coast, the West Coast, strictly secular education, illegal immigrants and their children, the main-stream media ..."

But, he said, because conservatives dominate the Iowa GOP and because the caucuses are the first-in-the-nation test, they enjoy disproportionate influence over the national party. "This happens with rotten boroughs," he wrote.

Forgive me, Frank Myers, but there's an irony here.

Eastern establishment columnists pay an inordinate amount of attention to the Iowa caucuses - and then complain about the inordinate amount of attention the Iowa caucuses get.

There's less than 40 days until the caucuses, and that means they'll all be coming soon: The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox ... all making a stampede to "the rotten borough."

The firehouse is burning.

Silly me.

Reach John Skipper at 421-0537 or

(5) comments


And Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Burn, baby, burn. Sigh.


Richard Cohen has it so right.


It's understandable that other states want to be able to participate in selecting a party candidate before things get locked up. Tradition aside, I'm not certain that Iowa retains that "every voter, USA" persona it may have had in the past. I feel that the disparity of how Iowa Republicans look at issues, vis-à-vis their national counterparts is producing a bigger chasm, due to the heavy evangelical influence here.


I agree with Scotsman. When Iowa was the "every American", it made sense. Now look what Iowa has produced, Michelle Bachman. Religion has no place in government and Iowa GOP'ers are making it their number one priority.
Only if everyone (Dems & Reps alike) put that wasted energy on real issues, like the economy and education, perhaps we wouldn't be in such a mess.

Another Day Older

Cohen nailed the conservatives, IMHO.

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