Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Win, Place, and Show

Post-Gazette -- Res Publica
Win, Place, and Show
by David Trumbull -- December 30, 2011

On the elevator this morning someone asked me who I thought would win in Iowa; I responded that I don't really follow sports. Friend Sharon H. responded: "If it's a race, the handicappers must be beside themselves with the best challenge that they've ever had."

"Horse race" coverage -- who's ahead in the opinion polls, who's trailing in the polls -- is how the media reporting on the Republican presidential nomination contest is disparaged. You can just hear the typical news reporting, "They're off and it's Romney in the lead. And now they're at the first turn and Newt is pulling ahead. And now they're in the straight-away and Mitt is back in the lead again followed by Ron Paul with Perry nagging in the rear."

Actually, it is a nasty slur on the racing industry, handicappers, and the wagering public to compare, to a horse race, the national press coverage of a presidential election. You'll learn a great deal more about the condition of the entries and their history on the track by reading the Daily Racing Form than you'll ever learn about any candidate in the January 3rd Iowa caucus by reading the Boston Globe or the New York Times.

I was thinking more "roller derby" than "horse race," but perhaps friend Kevin R. nailed it when he replied: "Does it matter? The Iowa caucus looks to me like a very formal game of musical chairs." Libertarian friend, Alan C., commented: "It's a real test of endurance, following a sport where it usually seems like all the contenders are losers."

My West Coast liberal friend Dave S. pointed out that "the successful presidencies of Tom Harkin and Mike Huckabee tell us all we need to know about the caucuses." And old high school buddy Carl P. reminded me that "The Iowa caucus, another legacy of Jimmy Carter."

The latest news regarding the Republican contenders is that two entries, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich have been disqualified from the March 6th meet in Virginia for failure to satisfy rules regarding nomination signature. Virginia voters have their ballot choices limited to Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.

Rick Perry, this past Tuesday, filed suit in U.S. District Court challenging, based on First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, Virginia's requirement that nomination petition circulators be eligible to vote in Virginia. The Supreme Court in the past (in a 1999 case relating to Colorado) ruled a similar rule to be in violation of the First Amendment right of free speech. So Virginia voters may yet get another choice on the ballot.

Here in Massachusetts the certifying of candidates' nomination signatures for our March 6th election has not been completed. We'll know in a few days who will be the entries in that race. Given my person history of voting for losing candidates, I'm more interested in the opening of the live racing season at Suffolk Downs in May. At least at the track I win once in a while. And even when I lose I'm down but a few dollars, which better than I can say about the administration of the current President.

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