What to do during the Iowa caucuses

Scan old photos.

Write letters.

Watch Jon Stewart.

Try not to look at Twitter feed.

Look at Twitter feed.

The line-up is Paul, Romney, Santorum.

That was five minutes ago. Now the line-up is Romney, Santorum, Paul.

No. Now it’s Santorum, Romney, Paul.

Tweedle-dee, Tweedle-dum, Tweedle-dumber.

The most interesting thing I read about Iowa tonight was written by Joan Didion in 1988, about another presidential campaign, and came to me via Jay Rosen’s A Viewer’s Guide to Iowa Caucus Coverage. Didion wrote:

They tend to speak a language common in Washington but not specifically shared by the rest of us. They talk about “programs,” and “policy,” and how to “implement” them or it, about “trade-offs” and constituencies and positioning the candidate and distancing the candidate, about the “story,” and how it will “play.” They speak of a candidate’s performance, by which they usually mean his skill at circumventing questions, not as citizens but as professional insiders, attuned to signals pitched beyond the range of normal hearing: “I hear he did all right this afternoon,” they were saying to one another in the press section of the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans on the evening Dan Quayle was or was not to be nominated for the vice-presidency. “I hear he did OK with Brinkley.” By the time the balloons fell that night the narrative had changed: “Quayle, zip,” the professionals were saying as they brushed the confetti off their laptops. …

These are people who speak of the process as an end in itself, connected only nominally, and vestigially, to the electorate and its possible concerns.

 

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