Monday, February 1, 2016

THE IOWA CAUCUSES: THE GOLDEN GLOBES OF POLITICS



The Iowa caucuses are to the Presidential race what the Golden Globes are to the Oscar Awards—contrived frippery. In tandem, they are the tails of the horses’ asses they aspire to emulate. For all the fuss and ballyhoo both create, they are pie-in-the-sky burlesques with no significance other than the misplaced importance naively or tipsily attributed to them. Not even Shakespeare, with all his uncanny insight, could have foreseen the much-ado-about-mostly-mainstream-nothing histrionics of American political theater, but he certainly anticipated this year’s dime a dozen clump of crass, craven GOP presidential candidates when he likened life to “a poor player… full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” (Forget, for the moment, that he called him an idiot.) Or the measure for measure my-experience-is-bigger-than-yours two-horse trotter race on the Democratic side.

Why does all this matter now? For those who take politics as seriously as they take show business, it matters bigtime.* It’s politics and show biz, song and dance, drama and more drama. It’s “Trumpo,” a spectacular cast of one, vying for glory with “Mad Max: Fury Road” featuring the tireless/tiresome Cruz the Choleric. It’s “The Revenant,” introducing the hovering specter of George W. It’s “The Hateful Eight”… or ten… or dozen. If it adds up at all, it’s the cynically calculated math of press agents and political consultants, of flaks and spinmeisters.

Springing from the star-besotted minds of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, The Golden Globes could only have been created in Hollywood. Where else could a mere 80-plus men and women from around the world, many of whom are purportedly neither foreign nor press, influence America’s number one awards show—likely, one with a vastly larger international viewing audience than our presidential elections—the Academy Awards? Where else could 80-plus would-be foreign journalists take the lead in swaying 5,765 active voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, qualified professionals all, to think as they do and vote as they have?

Where else? In Iowa, where 12 would-be candidates have spent incalculable amounts of time, effort and money to influence all of 5.4 eligible Iowa voters to write one of their names on a slip of paper—with grand dreams of ultimately impressing on 50.1% of the 125 to 130 million Americans who may go to the polls (weather permitting) that he or she is the heaven-sent one to lead the country from the chasm they see themselves in to a far better chasm than they have ever known. Where an Iowa voter has to belong to a party only for as long as it takes to vote, and can switch parties or switch back to "undeclared" immediately after. Or a Globes voter doesn’t have to speak English to love a performance. Imagine! Almost rubbing elbows with George Clooney on the Red Carpet and writing home to Liechtenstein that you voted for anyone else. Standing in line for the Ladies’ Room three bodies behind Cate Blanchett and letting the folks in Lower Silesia know “she has to go, too!”

Emerging from the smoke and mirrors unreality in both lands of Oz is the spectacle of a quinella of Republicans nobody seems to want and a duo of Democrats few seem able to differentiate or choose between, en route to being anointed to lead his or her party up or down the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City, more smoke and mirrors. In both lands of Oz, Caucusville and Stardust Fields, it’s as if a stickball game observed by three neighborhood kids determines who goes to the World Series. As Shakespeare might have said: My kingdom for a pair of ruby slippers!

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*It is noteworthy that “big time,” originally a term to describe the ultimate “White House” for vaudeville acts, was introduced as a synonym for “important” or “major” on radio, July 7, 1950, by the preeminent newscaster Lowell Thomas, in reference to the Korean War.
 

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