The Big Story Blog

Iowa: Caucus commentary

Posted at 11:15 AM on January 3, 2012 by Michael Olson
Filed under: Iowa, Politics

A roundup of opinion pieces and editorials about the Iowa caucuses:

New York Times: The slush funds of Iowa
"To influence the small fraction of Iowa voters who will participate in Tuesday's caucuses, the candidates and their supporters will have spent $12.5 million, an unprecedented amount. Only a third of that was spent by the candidates themselves; the rest comes from the 'super PACs' that most of the candidates have allowed to be established. These political action committees are essentially septic tanks into which wealthy individuals and corporations can drop unlimited amounts of money, which is then processed into ads that are theoretically made independently of the candidates."

Rick Santorum's curious closing argument
Dana Milbank writes in the Washington Post: "The 'Santorum surge' in recent days has little to do with the candidate himself and everything to do with the fact that he is the last man standing after voters discarded all the rest. There's little time left to scrutinize Santorum before the Iowa vote -- and in his case, that's an exceedingly lucky thing. Given more time in the spotlight, he would reveal himself as a hard-edged Dan Quayle."

Working-class hero
In the New York Times, David Brooks pans Santorum detractors and those in the GOP who are supporting Romney. "I suspect [Santorum] will do better post-Iowa than most people think -- before being buried under a wave of money and negative ads. And I do believe that he represents sensibility and a viewpoint that is being suppressed by the political system. Perhaps, in less rigid and ideological form, this working-class experience will someday find a champion. If you took a working-class candidate from the right, like Santorum, and a working-class candidate from the left, like Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and you found a few islands of common ground, you could win this election by a landslide. The country doesn't want an election that is Harvard Law versus Harvard Law."

Light duty for journalists
George Packer in the New Yorker writes: "Once demagogy and falsehoods become routine, there isn't much for the political journalist to do except handicap the race and report on the candidate's mood."

And this special message to Iowa voters from the Des Moines Register's Kathie Obradovitch: "If you show up and cast your vote, then you will have done what mattered. Don't let some talking head in the Beltway or in New York City tell you otherwise. They're invited to watch, and they'll say what they will. But they don't get to make a choice in Iowa tonight. You do."


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.