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The Iowa carcasses.

Just back from Iowa where the locals are referring to the caucuses as the carcasses since the same old ones keep getting dragged out. With some starting to get gamey, there's talk of moving the thing up from February. Given the large field of Republican hopefuls, the fourteen million hogs on standby should prove barely adequate for photo opportunities for each, although the chronic shortage of Iowans (only three million) means that it may be a struggle to maintain the tradition of each candidate shaking each citizen's hand three times.

Dole, Buchanan, Gramm, and Wilson have large operations there, while the coy Newt has sashayed through a la New Hampshire (only hoping for a glimpse of the mythical white boar in lieu of a moose). It's fair to say, after defending the Swine Institute, farm subsidies, and Medicare, most of the hopefuls will be deemed hopeless and not walk off with the heart of Francesca Johnson. Who will prove to be Kincaid and who will be burning their covered bridges behind them? Don't know, but let's talk about it anyway:

Bob Dole: Dole remains the odds-on favorite in Iowa, which is what you would expect from the man who looks like he might have long ago been the son not pictured in American Gothic. You're never too old to stake out a moral position, and nobody minds Hollywood being trashed despite the fact that most of its movies are now being made in Iowa. Running his campaign hard to the right on instructions channeled from Richard Nixon, Dole the Avenger has yet to appear; look for him to eventually break the leash and go for Gramm's fieshy wattles.

Pat Buchanan: Remembered primarily for giving a convention address so vicious and negative that it set back hate speech a full six months, Buchanan steadfastly refuses to compromise his lack of ideals, seeking the Presidency as a Pit Bully pulpit. A possible number two in Iowa, although many still think he's number two anywhere. Buchanan thinks his time has come; revelations that he dresses like Margaret Thatcher around the house could chill his bid.

Newt Gingrich: Danger: if Newt doesn't run now, and doesn't run often enough (and if he puts on only another four or five pounds), he may establish himself as the Ted Kennedy of the right.

Arlen Specter: Single-bullet theory now transmuted into the single-vote theory, Specter is trying hard to make up to women after Anita Hill: fat chance. Has antique value as the last living Republican moderate: if Scranton were Jewish.

Phil Gramm: Upside: "Debbie Does Quad Cities" never got made. Downside: as President might throw government contracts his brother-in-law's way. Suspicions linger of the former Texas Democrat who could backslide - "Debbie Does the Great Society?" The lack of enthusiasm for Gramm indicates he could have been right - he may be too ugly to be President.

Richard Lugar: Pretty savvy in foreign relations for a guy from Indiana. Can spell "potatoes." Lugar is running hard on the character issue, going so far as to claim he has one. Personality is apparently sold separately. He has, nonetheless, gotten a good response in Iowa and may want to think about retiring on a few acres around Newton.

Lamar Alexander: While generally well-received, Alexander carries a problem not of his making: most Americans outside the South confuse "Lamar" with the form between "lame" and "lamest." Upside: the former Education Secretary neglected to preside over the dismantling of Education, and he has shown a fearless propensity to wedge himself into tiny desks and talk to third graders, boding well for relations with Congress. Mild demeanor masks surprisingly regressive social attitudes: needs to openly denigrate more.

Colin Powell: Highly regarded by the Republican guard (unfortunately in Iraq), General Powell has unquestioned integrity, inasmuch as it has never been questioned. Generally speaking, not up to Eisenhower (after all, Hitler's not still in power), but better than Westmoreland. Refuses to say which party he belongs to, although surprisingly few Democrats have referred to Reagan as a "genius."

Pete Wilson: Widely regarded as Bush-Lite, as if it were possible, Wilson's courageous stand against immigration (domestic help aside) and affirmative action threatens to make the world safe again for white construction companies.

Bob Dornan: Driven as only a combat pilot who's never seen combat could be, Dornan has seized the moral high ground in an attempt to level it. Appears strongest in domestic issues, at least according to police reports. While he could be the George Washington of the militia movement, his Presidential candidacy appears to be dead as a Dornan.

Alan Keyes: Keyes is seeking to reverse the trend of failed candidates becoming talk-show hosts while proving that being a lunkhead transcends race.
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Title Annotation:political caucuses
Author:Feldman, Michael
Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Column
Date:Aug 1, 1995
Words:788
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