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Discerning the Paradox, Puzzle and Poetry of Iowa Results 2012

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Jacob Bohme (1575-1624), Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), William Blake (1757-1827), and Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) never participated in a robust fascinating Republican caucus in Iowa. At least none that we are aware of. Such matters, at least in January 2012 have been left to our new emerging American sages: Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Willard 'Mitt' Romney. They are all hoping to be the fresh new able challenger facing President Barack Obama in November. One of these named seven will be elected President of the United States in 2012, and serve a new four-year term as the leader of the free world. The fascinating process started in Iowa Monday night. What can be of value here is the wisdom Huxley, Blake, Swedenborg, and Bohme shared often with their respective generation, and now ours. A perennial insight that says, "Be ever conscious and aware of how we cleanse, and how we angle, the lens of perception of what we see." In short, concentrate attention on how we perceive the seen and the invisible -- what is authentic, and what is most real.

Gilbert and Sullivan (1871-1896) expressed it this way. They were comic opera sages, who wrote about fanciful "topsy-turvy" worlds, where each absurdity is taken to its logical conclusion (much like Iowa sometimes), fairies and fairy tales rub elbows with Lords, and pirates turn out to be noblemen (i.e., The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado.) Their repeated constant motif, lesson, and endearing warning comes to mind: "Things are seldom what they seem." Albert Einstein (1879-1955), after observing and studying gravitational fields, motion of molecules, particle theory, rising and falling stars, white dwarfs, black holes, cosmic voids, and quantum relativity, for his whole life, of both physics and politics, said: "Compared to politics, physics is simple."

History, physics, politics and the perennial occurrence of Iowa. Here is a definition of a white dwarf: "All stars burn at some point in their lives, and eventually a star stops burning. When stars stop burning, their mass shrink in size. As they shrink in size, they start to grow faint..." This degeneracy contracts and compresses the gas of the star, and the star then becomes incredibly dense. These are called white dwarfs. "[When] a [white dwarf] star ultimately ends its [nuclear-]burning lifetime... it must become either a neutron star or a black hole." Pretty good description. This is what happens in Iowa, almost precisely, almost every time and every cycle. One year it was referred to as "The Seven Dwarfs." Remember that. All but one, burned out, shrank and faded that season. It will be much the same this time. History continuously repeats itself if we remember the events, the lessons and what we learned every four years.

Center of gravity. For seven months this race has been about Romney and non-Romney. Willard 'Mitt' Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts (2003-2007) is capable, poised, prepared and a skilled refined Republican presidential candidate. Notice he rarely makes a verbal mistake, or any kind of obvious mistake, at least on camera (the non-Rick Perry). He learned this early from his father, George Romney the former governor of Michigan (1963-1969) who was a Republican presidential candidate in 1968 challenging Richard Nixon, Nelson Rockefeller and Ronald Reagan. Both father and son were successful businessmen, Republican and Mormon, and were elected governors in solid traditional Democratic states, where few Republicans made it. That takes talent, a lot of effective strategic planning, solid organizational infrastructure, and all the money needed to finance it. Mitt Romney has all those. He also has a consistent base of 25 percent support in the Republican Party, both in 2008 and 2012. What he does not have, at least not yet, is the other very substantial 75 percent. And in truth, if history repeats itself: "They will never fall in love with him, but they may fall in line with him."

His situation is not at all new. In 1976, Jimmy Carter faced almost an identical situation. In 1976, Carter was a one-term state senator, and a one-term governor from the southern state of Georgia. The national party was not embracing him or warming up to him much. His support base in the early 1976 Democratic caucuses and primaries remained forever in the 25 percent range. He was the only serious moderate conservative in the race, thus the consistent 25 percent. Most of the remaining 75 percent, were far more liberal, however divided themselves up in a least five different piles and five different candidates, fragmenting their strength and money in five different ways. Example: New Hampshire hard data 2/24/1976 -- Jimmy Carter: 28 percent, Morris Udall: 23 percent, Birch Bayh: 15 percent, Fred Harris: 11 percent, Sargent Shriver: 8 percent, Other: 4 percent. Notice the Carter vote is 28 percent, and the non-Carter vote is 61% percent. By the time the non-Carter vote came down to one candidate later in the season (Jerry Brown's impressive victories), it was too late. Carter was well on his way to the nomination and could not be caught. And what was Carter's vote total in Iowa on Jan. 27, 1976. You guessed correctly. It was 28 percent (sound familiar to Romney and non-Romney 2012).

Iowa hard data from Monday night, Jan. 3 2012 -- Mitt Romney: 25 percent, Rick Santorum: 25 percent, Ron Paul: 21 percent, Newt Gingrich: 13 percent, Rick Perry: 10 percent, Michele Bachmann: 5 percent. Unless the non-Romney vote (which is substantial) coalesces around one candidate fast and soon, which is not at all likely at this writing, Romney will be the Republican nominee. All that remains is -- will it take him 14 days or 14 weeks? Rick Santorum had an impressive rise in the final weeks of Iowa -- hard fought and earned. However, it will be hard for him to repeat it, in equal proportions and, (key phrase) national delegate strength elsewhere.

60 percent of Iowa Republican caucus voters are rural, religious, evangelical, agrarian and conservative. Data says they are far more concerned with pure ideology than November electability. And to use their terms, "a timid Massachusetts moderate" was not their first caucus choice. So they ended up with a very conservative, blue collar, devout Roman Catholic Republican from western Pennsylvania that lost his recent U.S Senate race. The day before the Iowa caucus, 41 percent said they were still undecided. There is no mystery there. Pat Robertson won Iowa in 1988 (with the above mentioned evangelical constituency) defeating Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush. And Mike Huckabee won Iowa in 2008 (with this same constituency) defeating John McCain and Mitt Romney. Rick Santorum won these identical Iowa counties and regions of Huckabee and Robertson -- but only because he was the last one standing. Bachmann, Perry, and Gingrich had already faded. Santorum was all that remained.

Romney is prepared and ready and on the ballot in 50 states, staffed and fully financed in 30, media buys running in Florida, Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina daily at his side. The national armada is full, on the ground, and moving. The three Johns -- Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, and former Gov. John Sununu of New Hampshire are in the constant Romney inner circle of advisers, planners, surrogate speakers and protectors. It will be very hard to take this ship down. It will take hits. Newt Gingrich is a skilled veteran bomb thrower from way back. And the kamikaze Gingrich plane is headed for the SS Romney full throttle. Gingrich does not mind blowing himself up, so long as he takes down a few others with him. "When stars stop burning, their mass shrink in size. As they shrink in size, they start to grow faint. This degeneracy contracts and compresses the gas of the star, and the star then becomes incredibly dense."

Bohme, Swedenborg, Blake, Huxley, and Einstein are blessed sages in the human story that spoke to us and showed us, how to see deeper into all that is. And to remember a lesson, one that often plays out in American presidential politics: "Be ever conscious and aware of how we cleanse, and how we angle, the lens of perception of what we see."

Ken Dean of Vermont served on the National Staff of Senator Gary Hart of Colorado (1984, 1988), and Governor Jerry Brown of California (1980,1992). He successfully managed some primary and caucus victories for both in 1984 and 1992, against Walter Mondale and Bill Clinton.