Mr. Cope's Cave: Much Ado About Iowa 

What do you think we learned from the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Cope?

Damn, Junior. I don't want to talk about the Iowa caucuses. They're over, and that's the best thing to be said about them. I'm hoping to get through at least three years without hearing that f***ing word again.

What word?

"Iowa"

But, gosh. After all those months of... of...

"Folderol?"

Is that a word?

You bet. It means a big fuss. Much ado about nothing. A pother, a hurly-burly and hustle-bustle, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying totally useless crap. Fol. Der. Ol.

Um, OK. I see. So after all those months of folderol, you don't think there's anything conclusive to take away from it? Other than it's over?

You know what they say, Opie. "What happens in Iowa, stays in Iowa."

It's Las Vegas they say that about, Mr. Cope. Not Iowa.

Well excuuuuzzze me for adapting existing material to new uses! The point is, if there is any consistency or predictability to the outcomes of Iowa caucuses, either in terms of who goes on to win the nomination, the presidency or even who might do well the next time, it's hardly worth bringing up. Seriously, one year Huckabee or Santorum wins that damn thing and four years later, they can't get enough votes to qualify as currently-living Earthlings. So what's that tell you about Iowa?

That they can be a little fickle there?

Fickle!? I'd say they're more like cows muddling around in a big pasture, and whoever drives by blowing the loudest car horn gets them muddling in the same direction.

Is that some kind of Iowa-specific insult?

OK... not much of a metaphor, I admit. But I couldn't think of a concise word for muddling cow behavior. Besides, if you'd grown up in Meridian 50... 60 years ago, you'd know exactly what I mean.

You mean when there were cows in Meridian.

And pastures.

But anyway, that's something we learned about the Iowa caucuses, isn't it?... that no one can predict what Iowa voters will do from one caucus to another?

Barney, that's the same as saying the only thing to be learned from the Iowa caucuses is that there is nothing to be learned from the Iowa caucuses.

There must be trends, though, Mr. Cope. There're always trends.

OK then, you tell me where the trend is. For instance, four years ago, libertarianism was all the rage. Ron Paul came in third by a whisker. Got over 20 percent of the Republican vote. Monday, his irritating weenie of a kid pulled in a whopping 4 percent, while the first lifelong democratic socialist to ever run a major presidential campaign got 50 percent on the other side. Does that mean libertarianism is dead and socialism is the future? Does the fact that Hillary is the first woman to ever win the Iowa caucuses mean the tracks are now greased for other women to get into presidential politics? Does Bernie Sanders' appeal to millennial voters mean that there are bright days ahead for 74-year-old Jewish politicians? Huh? Where do you see a trend in any of that?

Gosh, Mr. Cope. You make it sound like the Iowa caucuses are no more than... than...

"Bupkis?"

Is that a word?

You bet. It means worthless. Bush league. Of little consequence. Niggling, pettifogging, picayune and paltry. More ado about nothing. A vote, full of sound and fury, by 20 percent of the registered voters in a state with 0.08 percent of the registered voters in the whole country, signifying a whopping 0.016-percent of the people who will ultimately decide the presidential race. Bup. Kis.

I just can't believe it's all bupkis, Mr. Cope. After all, it's the first.

That much is true, Aunt Bea. It is the first. And Iowa never lets us forget it.

So what's wrong with that? Somebody has to be the first.

Why can't the first be several states, all on the same day? Why can't the first be a broader, more inclusive representation of the American electorate? Why does this one, dippy, dull, flat splat of a state get to make such a big splash every four years for no other reason than they are the one and only first?

Because... because...

I'll tell you why. Because this dippy, dull, flat splat of a state insists it be that way, that's why. No other reason than they say so.

So you don't believe Iowa really deserves it.

Well, now... when you put it like that... maybe they do.
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