10 Things Presidential Campaigns Could Do Without Edition
As you may have heard, the Iowa Straw Poll -- one of the primary season's famed mettle testers for GOP presidential candidates -- is no more. Four years after the Straw Poll title was claimed by then-Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and she subsequently failed to capitalize on her victory, state GOP officials pulled the plug on the event that Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) declared had "outlived its usefulness." Indeed, by the time the Straw Poll had been consigned to memory, it loomed as an event that was more likely to kneecap a candidacy than to elevate one. Pour one out for its final victim, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
But while it's understandable that the Iowa Straw Poll may continue to be thought of fondly by election year nostalgists, one can't help but liken the removal of this pseudo-event to 15,000 lobbyists left in a desert buried up to their necks in sand -- that is: a "good start," as they say. If there's anything we need more of in our presidential primary season, it's less. Less bloat, less pomp, less nonsense. The demise of the Iowa Straw Poll should be something that touches off a trend toward a leaner, cleaner primary process. What else would we get rid of? That's what we tackle in this week's Trail To The Chief.
|RANK||THINGS WE COULD DO WITHOUT|
|1||ALL THE OTHER STRAW POLLSNo, Iowa isn’t the only one. There's still the CPAC Straw Poll, the Texas GOP Straw Poll, the Florida P5 Straw Poll... These are all "high-risk/no-reward" affairs, and are predictive of nothing. Past winners of these straw polls include such presidents as Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, George Allen, Gary Bauer and Steve Forbes.|
|2||REVERENT DISCUSSIONS OF BILLIONAIRE DONOR CONFABSLook: Any event at which Mark Halperin leads a sunrise Pilates class is immediately suspect. But these anti-democratic exercises -- featuring feudalistic, ring-kissing audiences with dotty robber barons and prostrate presidential candidates -- are Exhibit A in the case against American exceptionalism.|
|3||CANDIDATE PLEDGESThe first thing any candidate declares is that they are their own, unique person. The next thing they do is start conforming. Leading the charge against individual identity are the pledge mongers. We are talking primarily about Grover Norquist, who sort of invented this concept from atop his Iron Throne Of Anti-Tax Zealotry. His "no new tax" pledge is something that most GOP candidates since the '80s have agreed to -- because they have to agree to it. Others have followed suit, with pledge topics of their own, including the "cut, cap and balance" of Jim DeMint and Susan B. Anthony List for pro-life purity. Politicians already lie and dissemble -- why force them to do it more often?|
|4||SUPERDELEGATESThe Democrats maintain this meaningless appendage to their primaries and caucuses, and wow, is it ever off-brand for them! See, way back when, party leaders decided to turn over the process of picking nominees to actual voters. But then they tried to take back some control by creating "superdelegates." These are party grandees and officials who cherish the perk of being allowed to be counted in the candidates' delegate haul. But "superdels" are thought of as so anti-democratic by definition that they dare not be the deciding factor in a nomination race -- mayhem would ensue, as it did in 2008.|
|5||LENGTHY ANNOUNCEMENT PAGEANTSThese are the ne plus ultra of anti-climaxes. Some of these candidates have been "running" for months or years, so when it comes time to make things official, just get to the point! No one wants to hear from local officials, campaign chairs, candidates relatives or any of the other flotsam and jetsam of the campaign endlessly introducing each other for an hour before the candidate tells us what we already know.|
|6||REFERRING TO THE LEADER OF A TIGHT RACE AS "THE FRONTRUNNER"The candidate who has a substantial lead in the polls and has held it stably for many weeks? That's the "frontrunner." It's not "Candidate B" whose managed to take a two-point lead on the field. Stop calling that person the "frontrunner." Even legit frontrunners don’t like this! In the GOP race so far, no one is the frontrunner because everybody is currently in a peloton (look it up).|
|7||INTERRUPTING THE MEALS OF EARLY STATE PRIMARY RESIDENTSMemo to candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire: Can you let the people who are out to dinner with their friends and family live? Can you please let people dine on their colorful local repast in peace? As a candidate, you've got a gaggle of reporters and cameras trailing behind you, which makes restaurant patrons even more uncomfortable. If you live in Des Moines or Manchester, please accept our sympathies. But do you have a minute to answer HuffPost’s questions? :)|
|8||HOT-TAKE DEBATES OVER CAMPAIGN LOGOSGraphics, fonts, kerning and punctuation: all things that have never tipped the balance in an election. We could do with a 50 percent reduction in people writing articles opining about Jeb's exclamation point and/or Hillary's arrow. Won't you volunteer?|
|9||STORIES ABOUT CANDIDATES DIETS AND FAST FOOD PREFERENCESMemo to reporters: If you are contemplating writing a piece about a candidate's gastronomical minutiae, can you not? Who told you that there was a special providence in a Chipotle order? Please stop. Your readers won’t miss it. You won’t miss it.|
|10||DONALD TRUMPYep, it's still "nope."|
Photos: Getty, Associated Press