Iowa straw poll is not as important as some commentators believe

Did you miss me?

I didn’t think so.

Truth be told, I didn’t miss you either while taking a week off from imposing my opinions on the eyeballs of Sentinel readers. Like the Herzogs, as Denny outlined in his Sunday column, the Spehars were off doing things of greater import.

Writing a column is an easy casualty when both your kids are back home at the same time, when there’s a wedding accompanying the annual family reunion in the high country, when there’s a chance to gaze into a campfire while guitars are strummed, songs are sung, and you’re being surprised by a feisty little red poured by some Republican lawyer in a Bentley who showed up at the invitation of a semi-distant-but-now-newly-appreciated relative.

Kinda made me wish I’d washed the accumulated bovine fecal matter off the ‘94 Ford ex-U.S. government ranch truck and sent my son into town for something a tad more upscale than Coors and Tecate.

All in all, it was a good reminder that some things we become engrossed in may not be that important after all.

Take the Iowa GOP preference poll for example. Anyone with an IQ above room temperature knows Hades will be festooned with icicles before Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul or Herman Cain hear “Hail to the Chief” played for any of them.

Still, national political pundits apparently thought it was a big deal.

At least Tim Pawlenty had the good sense to pull the plug after losing a “contest” where candidates needed less than 5,000 votes to finish first and they could buy those votes for $30 bucks and a plate of food each.

Pawlenty finished a distant third behind this election cycle’s version of Sarah Palin and the anti-war GOP/Libertarian candidate. And just ahead of a former pizza executive whom most of us wouldn’t care about unless he delivered a truckload of thin-crust, sausage-pepperoni combos to our doors.

Pawlenty must have served the walleye-fried cheese curds combo we “enjoyed” during a lunch stop as we passed through Iowa last March, nourishment certainly worthy of a “thanks but no thanks” response from most sentient humans, except for the Midwest transplant who edits this very page.

If the current GOP field looks a little lacking, prepare to enjoy the newest entrant. A while back, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was talking about secession. Now he wants to succeed the current president of the country he suggested his state should exit.

No wonder Perry has been described by one pundit as the candidate for “those who considered George W. Bush too cerebral.”

Just because I skipped pulling together some written words last week doesn’t mean opportunities to opine were lacking. Like docs and lawyers, columnists get asked for their opinions in social settings.

My chance came last Saturday at the 60th birthday party for a friend. Here, in no particular order and perhaps informed by a beverage or two, are answers to some of the questions posed:

No, I don’t think District 51 ought to place a financial issue on the November ballot. Necessity aside, given the national political climate and with polling positives only slightly above 50 percent and just six weeks to sell the issue prior to mail ballots going out, that’s not a recipe for success.

There’s lemonade being made out of the lemons of the debate about spending/revenue/debt limits. It’s the growing dissatisfaction that most Americans have with our elected representatives of all stripes — those who seem to delight in shooting us all in the foot while talking at, instead of with, each other and who seem more interested in assigning blame than solving problems.

And, yes, there is good news.

All this, too, shall pass, just as it has for the past 235 years.

We’ve survived revolution, a civil war, world wars and Korea and Vietnam as well as the Great Depression. We learned to set aside archaic precedents and let women vote and people of color ride in the front of the bus.

And, along the way, we found time to set real and imagined problems aside occasionally in order to enjoy family and friends and celebrate both new beginnings and old traditions.

Jim Spehar welcomes your thoughts at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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