Wednesday, 14 January 2004

This is what Deliberation Day would look like: hell

Marybeth links a Joel Klein piece on the fun and excitement that is the Iowa caucuses. Classic quotes:

To explain how it all works, Iowa Secretary of State Chet Culver is going around the state holding practice caucuses. At his workshop last Tuesday at the library in Clive, a suburb seven miles west of Des Moines, about 50 people showed up, several of them young enough to be my parents. Most of these folks already knew how caucuses work and just wanted a refresher course. Clive needs to get itself a bowling alley.

As Culver, 37, a former history teacher, began with an hour-long PowerPoint presentation on the history of the caucus going back to 1846, a sign-language interpreter flashed signs — even though not a single person in the room was deaf. It hit me about 15 minutes into the speech that the sign-language guy must have realized no one there was deaf, but by that time it was too embarrassing to just stop. So he kept going, his bravery a further testimony to the lengths Iowans go through just to get David Broder to visit.

At least Bob Putnam would approve!

For the second hour, Culver had the audience stage a fake caucus. It turns out the Republican caucus is really simple. They pass around ballots, count them and go home to watch Everybody Loves Raymond while the Democrats are still reading their rules. I predict the state will eventually be 100% Republican.

Once all the candidates have at least 15%, a formula Culver describes as “needing a Ph.D. in math to understand” is used to determine how many delegates each candidate gets. The percentage of delegates each candidate gets is the number reported in the media. Then the media, for reasons that are unclear, pretend that has something to do with whom the country wants to be President.

Yes, this is exactly the sort of shit Ackerman and Fishkin want to foist on America. Thanks—but no thanks.