The biggest beneficiary of Democrats in Iowa totally f-ing up is the person who most directly benefits from spreading a message that elections are totally f-ed up…
At least until he’s comfortably won. And that’s Trump.
And in that sense, the abject mess in Iowa is yet another example of the President’s uncanny good luck. Promoting his preferred narrative that elections are a mess, and the Democratic Party is a mess. The only thing perhaps not totally fortuitous for Trump in the Democrats’ blunder in Iowa is it’s happening very early in the campaign, so Democrats–and the Democratic process–should have time to recover. Still, Trump and his pals have something real solid to hang on to already, and they’re not going to let go of it easily. As we saw in endless Tweets and comments from Trump’s allies: “sloppiest train wreck in history. It would be natural for people to doubt the fairness of the process”, and more than a handful from Trump himself: “It is not the fault of Iowa, it is the Do Nothing Democrats fault”.
The President seems in a good mood these days, recovered from the doldrums of impeachment, and buoyed by a new Gallup poll showing his level of support among the American public being higher than it’s ever been at 49% (lower among Democrats, but higher among Independents and even higher among Republicans). And we all know how Trump loves a good poll.
His State of the Union speech last night was highly confrontational, and highly disparaging of Democrats, for all kinds of reasons. Describing President Obama’s economy as a wreck when actually Obama successfully engineered America emerging from one of the worst Recessions ever.
We’ve said before—even of Trump—that we have no problem with Presidents taking credit for things they’re not fully responsible for, because they’re always going to be blamed for stuff they’re not really responsible for. But that doesn’t seem to happen with Trump: he takes absolute, full credit for EVERYTHING, and casts off all blame without question, whether righteously placed or not. So we’re starting to rethink our position. (We also wonder how and why so many people can seemingly gladly work for a boss who never shares credit; steals every good or at least executable idea as his own).
During the just shy of 90-minute address, Trump also gave out little gifts to a variety of invited guests and heroes sitting in the gallery, which we don’t think we’ve really seen before, or at least not to this extent. And lots to his evangelical allies, including a promise to bring prayer into public schools.
And of course no mention of impeachment at all.
Nor of Medicaid, which used to be part of a 3-part pledge to never touch Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. Now all of a sudden in last night’s speech we’re down to: “We will always protect your Medicare and we will always protect your Social Security. Always.” So what disappears next?
Anyway, to wrap up State of the Union: no message of unity beyond LINE UP BEHIND ME.
The State of the Union is Trump.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is going to take a lot of crap for this, but no wonder she promptly ripped up her copy of the President’s address as soon as it was all over, which you can see here or by clicking on the photo:
Back to Iowa, which sure maybe benefits Bernie and Buttigieg because it looks like they actually did well. And sure it maybe benefits Bloomberg because his strategy of keeping away from Iowa now makes him look like a genius. (Politico reports he’s leveraging that by doubling ad buys in Super Tuesday states in which he is competing).
But those may be small and fleeting advantages. Meanwhile, problematic, if not rigged elections, is Trump’s whole schtick when it comes to voting, and this feeds right into that in a big way. And all the conspiracy theorizing by Democrats and lies and/or ridiculous CYA excuses by Iowa Democrats and the tech company they hired, doesn’t really help any Democrat. But it all–every bit of it–helps Trump.
He and Republicans are working really hard to kick people off voting rolls and suppress voting by closing polling sites, passing strict voter ID laws, etc., all of which disproportionately disenfranchise people who most likely won’t vote for him if they have the chance to vote. But equally, or maybe even more powerful than those efforts, is establishing a message that his opposition is so bungling and wrong that he can’t possibly legitimately lose.
The people who did vote for Trump will all vote for him again (unless they’ve died in the last 4 years). So in order to have a shot at beating him, Democrats will have to vastly increase voter turnout. And resist turning against each other. And in order to do that, people have to believe in the electoral process. That their vote is valued, and their vote will count. Iowa undermines that. No way around that. And it hands Trump an invaluable early gift in his drive toward reelection.
Because if you’re not going to vote for Trump, he’d prefer you stay home. People staying home is how he won last time. And it’s maybe even more crucial to him this time around because he needs to win back the House and hang on to the Senate too, to make his power completely unchallengeable.