T-Paw, We Didn’t Know Ye

Yesterday, the nation waited breathlessly for the results from the Republican straw poll in Ames, Iowa.

We wanted to know which of the host of candidates would receive the most votes from the tiny fraction of Iowans attending the event — many of whom were bussed there, fed, clad in t-shirts, entertained, and even had their entrance fee paid by one candidate or another.  The suspense was so great it took a herculean effort to go about our daily lives.  And then, this morning, we learned that Representative Michele Bachmann scored a victory for the ages by collecting 4,823 straw poll votes, barely edging out Representative Ron Paul, who tallied 4,671 votes.  Former Governor Tim Pawlenty finished third with 2,293 votes — and he found his performance so disappointing that he promptly dropped out the race, before most of us even had a chance to figure out who in the heck he was.

The endless drum-beating about the significance of the Iowa straw poll, with its paid admission, its miniscule sample of voters, and its wholly non-binding results, is so stunningly absurd that it somehow makes perverse sense that the results would convince a largely unknown candidate to leave the “race” for the Republican presidential nomination before the “race” has even begun.  It is hard to believe that a major party would use something as phony and contrived as the Iowa straw poll as part of its process of selecting a serious presidential candidate.  I think it makes Republicans look ridiculous.

Anyone who wonders why middle America thinks the national media and party establishments are out of touch need look no further than this weekend’s Iowa straw poll, which drew political journalists and party bigwigs like flies — but was ignored by everyone else.

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Time To Shuck The Titles

Now that we are heading squarely into the 2012 campaign — did a hear a collective groan? — I need to unburden myself about one thing that I just hate:  when politicians who no longer occupy an office still are addressed by the title they once held.

If you see Sarah Palin being interviewed, you’re likely to hear her addressed as “Governor Palin.”  Alan Simpson, once a Senator from Wyoming, still gets called “Senator Simpson.”  Why?  This is America, where we don’t have hereditary titles.  If you occupy an office, of course you should be addressed by the appropriate title.  But if you’ve left the job, in my book you’ve left the title, too.  It’s like the scene in the John Adams mini-series where Adams, having been defeated in his bid for reelection, boards a common coach and tells the surprised fellow passengers that he is just “Mr. Adams” now.  If only the less accomplished members of the modern political class were as willing to assume the role of a mere American citizen again!

So as this campaign season rolls onward, don’t expect to hear me referring to “Governor Romney” or “Governor Pawlenty” or “Governor Huntsman” (or for that matter “Ambassador Huntsman”).  In the land of the free, “Mr.” is what they are, and “Mr.” is what they should be called.